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Internationalizing the Crisis

The public-health effects and economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in developing and emerging economies are only just becoming apparent, but it is already clear that the toll will be devastating. If the international community wants to avoid a wave of defaults, it must start developing a rescue plan immediately.

NEW YORK – As it spread from one country to another, the novel coronavirus paid no attention to national frontiers or “big, beautiful” border walls. Nor were the ensuing economic effects contained. As has been obvious since the outset, the COVID-19 pandemic is a global problem that demands a global solution.

In the world’s advanced economies, compassion should be sufficient motivation to support a multilateral response. But global action is also a matter of self-interest. As long as the pandemic is still raging anywhere, it will pose a threat – both epidemiological and economic – everywhere.

The impact of COVID-19 on developing and emerging economies has only begun to reveal itself. There are good reasons to believe that these countries will ravaged far more by the pandemic than the advanced economies have been. After all, people in lower-income countries tend to live in closer proximity to one another. A higher share of the population suffers from pre-existing health problems that render them more vulnerable to the disease. And these countries’ health systems are even less prepared to manage an epidemic than those of the advanced economies (which have hardly functioned smoothly).

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