None of us will be secure until we are all secure. The coronavirus is a common enemy and no one can breathe easily until everyone can. It is in the interests of all of us in the rich countries to support efforts as much as we can to mitigate and eradicate the novel coronavirus in the poorest ones.
The challenge facing the poorest countries is truly intractable. Extended families of up to ten and even more live in one or two rooms, making social distancing impossible. Poor people without electricity must shop for food almost every day and must often walk down crowded narrow alleys which make things even worse. Hospital capacity is severely limited.
Of course the rich countries should help, partly because we are all in this together, and cannot insulate ourselves from what happens elsewhere, and partly because it is the humanitarian thing to do. Even though the virus is new we have already learned much. A principal lesson is that acting sooner is far less costly than later efforts. An investment now will yield more than efforts at a later date.
Anne O. Krueger
Anne O. Krueger, a former World Bank chief economist and former first deputy managing director of the International Monetary Fund, is Senior Research Professor of International Economics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies and Senior Fellow at the Center for International Development at Stanford University.