Unprecedented times. Over the course of the pandemic, these words have been used again and again. Our lives have drastically changed in a myriad of ways for better and for worse. Although the number of new cases in the US is far lower than before, we are nowhere close to regaining a sense of normalcy. As the epicenter of the pandemic shifts between continents, some countries have eradicated the Coronavirus altogether, while others are still in the midst of the pandemic.
- United States
- As of September, more than 200,000 people have died from the virus and 3 million cases have been counted so far. These numbers are just estimates–the actual toll could be higher. The reason why the US is doing so poorly is because in the beginning many states ignored federal shutdown guidelines. Despite many warnings, the US has missed many opportunity to slow this virus. A pandemic can be stopped in two ways: either prevent it from arising, or stop it from rapidly spreading. In February, lives could have been saved if tests were readily available and public spaces were shut down. Instead, the government instituted a travel ban. While it restricted population movement to an extent, it did nothing to prevent asymptomatic people from coming in and spreading the virus
- On the other end of the spectrum, Taiwan has had a mere total of seven deaths. With a population of 23 million, this is a monumental achievement. The reason? Speed. When Taiwanese officials heard that Wuhan, China had contacted the Coronavirus, they quickly set up travel restrictions and screened all foreign visitors even before Beijing assessed the situation. Rather than shutting down their economy for weeks, they chose to close their borders to foreigners and used contact tracing and mobile Sim-tracking to determine if people in quarantine were actually abiding by the rules. This rapid response has possibly saved thousands of lives.
- New Zealand
- When the first case hit New Zealand, the government moved promptly to shut down the entire country and instituted a “level 4” lockdown–people could only interact with other people living in their homes. With a total of 22 deaths, New Zealand is now currently Covid-free. One study shows that 88% of New Zealanders trusted that their government would handle the pandemic perfectly.
- The epicenter of the pandemic has once again moved, this time from the U.S. to India. Cases are spiking, and everyday the death count surges higher. Although India was initially successful in containing the virus, it has spread quickly in a number of weeks. The lockdown plan did not account for the millions of migrants working in cities and living paycheck-to-paycheck. They had to travel long distances, which contributed to the spread. Now, India even surpasses the US in the number of Coronavirus deaths.
- United States
Graphic: Tarun Kalyanaraman