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Why the countries best positioned to deal with the pandemic are performing the worst

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During the first year of the pandemic, it was the wealthiest countries, with comparatively strong health systems, civil services, legal systems and other public services, that suffered the highest rates of COVID-19. In fact, those countries are rated as best prepared to respond to public health threats such as pandemics – they are the biggest “global health security“- Had the highest number of COVID-related fatalities.

On the face of it, this makes no sense. Poorer countries with weaker, less effective state institutions would not be expected to do better in the pandemic. so in one recent working paperIn this article, we took a deep dive into the statistics to find out what might explain this unusual condition.

we saw three main dimensions Which describe how effective the states are in getting things done. If states are dominant, they generally have more authority to provide order and security, greater ability to provide public services, and greater legitimacy (which is a measure of the extent to which citizens have the authority of the state to govern them). How to accept the Fundamental Right). So when preventing or dealing with COVID-19, we expected states with high authority (such as China), high potential (Finland) and high legitimacy (Canada) to be transferred to states with low authority (Honduras), low capacity (Liberia) would benefit. ) and low validity (Uzbekistan).

But it was not so. The simple correlations between these three main dimensions of state and COVID-19 health outcomes are puzzling: Countries with high state effectiveness – no matter the dimension used to measure it – have high rates of COVID-19 infection and mortality. is the rate. and a preliminary look national policies Controlling disease similarly reveals the unexpected: greater state effectiveness, weak but nonetheless, appears to be associated with mild restrictions.

Furthermore, countries with high authority and high potential have also been slower than countries with low assessments to implement containment policies. some “weak” states – for example, central african republic, Somalia and Yemen – More rapid closure and cancellation of public events than states considered more effective.

Data can be misleading

At first glance, the data confirm that the more dominant states were generally atleast effective in their pandemic response. However, drawing such conclusions from simple correlations is misleading.

There are a number of factors that may explain the difference in pandemic outcomes. For example, borders with other countries with high infection rates are at greater risk. This made southern Europe, which is usually made up of highly dominant states, a high-risk area during the first wave of the pandemic, as it was an early place where the virus took hold.

Despite a weak health system and relying on volunteers to combat COVID-19, Myanmar has kept deaths down.
Lin Bo Bo / EPA-EFE

And since the elderly are more vulnerable to the virus, countries with older populations are also more vulnerable to COVID-19. In some countries with highly effective state institutions, such as Japan and Germany, more than 20% of the population 65 and up. For example, in Uganda or Mali, it is only around 2%.

We also know that with higher rates of COVID-19 testing, more infections and deaths are detected – and that detection is usually higher in countries with stronger health systems and public services. To get an accurate picture of the relationship between the state and COVID-19, such factors must be controlled.

Once economic growth, age structure of the population, population density, testing rates and proximity to the worst-affected countries are taken into account, an entirely different picture emerges. When these relevant factors are analyzed, it appears to be the more dominant state. is Mounted more effective pandemic responses. However, there are some differences in the results according to the three different dimensions of the state that we mentioned earlier.

When controlling for the above factors, states with greater ability to provide public services have had fewer COVID-19 infections and deaths, as well as a lower proportion of infections leading to death (known as the case-mortality rate). . States with greater authority also have lower case-mortality rates – in line with our expectations – although infections and deaths do not. On the other hand, there is no clear link between state legitimacy and the consequences of the pandemic.

A Polish woman being vaccinated for COVID-19.
Robust health systems and other public services will become more of an advantage as vaccines are introduced.
Maciej Kulczynski / EPA-EFE

Weak states remain vulnerable

Findings like these remind us that having strong state institutions is what really matters – even if on the surface these institutions seem to have failed.

This is not to say that many countries with “weak” and under-funded state institutions have not performed admirably in the pandemic. prior experience with infectious diseases, public support For sanctions, and strong community action, among other factors, have all been important.

But admiring the resilience of communities and the skill and resourcefulness of (some) government officials should not deter us from the fact that people who live in vulnerable states are on average more vulnerable to the pandemic in health and economic terms. As the COVID-19 crisis continues, we must not let misleading data hide the fact that people living in countries with less effective state institutions remain at a major disadvantage, and are in fact both in the pandemic reflected and amplified existing inequalities.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of knews.uk and knews.uk does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.

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