While much of Europe and Asia has relaxed lockdown measures after overcoming the pandemic’s first wave, the United States has moved firmly into its second surge. With more than 4 million confirmed coronavirus cases and upwards of 150,000 deaths, the country that was supposed to be the most prepared to handle a public-health crisis is proving itself to be among the worst at it.
To focus solely on the U.S., however, would be to miss the even more alarming situation occurring in much of the developing world. Brazil, second only to the U.S. in confirmed cases and deaths, has recorded more than 2 million infections. India, the world’s second-most populous country with the third-highest number of cases, is approaching the same grim milestone. Similar increases are occurring in South Africa, Mexico, Peru, Chile, and Colombia. Taken collectively, these countries account for more than a third of the world’s confirmed infections. And such figures only reflect the cases we know about.
While the U.S. can look to the experience of its fellow rich nations to help guide it out of this pandemic, and has relatively more resources to do so, many low-to-middle-income countries do not. The remedies that have proved effective in wealthy nations haven’t necessarily been possible in poorer ones—particularly those with inadequate testing capacity, strained health-care systems, and limited social safety nets.