Indicators such as the level of poverty, healthcare capacity, access to internet and social protection can portray how severe the effects of the COVID-19 crisis might be in each of 189 countries.
The pandemic has become more than a global health emergency, but a systemic human development crisis, already affecting the economic and social dimensions of development in unprecedented ways. Policies to reduce vulnerabilities and build capacities to tackle crises, both in the short and long term, are vital if individuals and societies are to better weather and recover from shocks like this.
Preparedness of countries to respond to COVID-19
The level of preparedness among countries depend on the level of development, inequalities, the capacity of a healthcare system and internet connectivity– to assess how well a nation can respond to the multiple impacts of a crisis like COVID-19.
While every society is vulnerable to crises, their abilities to respond differs significantly around the world. For instance, the most developed countries – those in the very high human development category- have on average 55 hospital beds, over 30 physicians, and 81 nurses per 10,000 people, compared to 7 hospital beds, 2.5 physicians, and 6 nurses in a least developed country.
And with widespread lockdowns, the digital divide has become more significant than ever. With 6.5 billion people around the globe, 85.5 percent of the global population still do not have access to reliable broadband internet, which limits their ability to work and continue their education.
Vulnerabilities of countries in crisis like COVID-19
Preparedness is one thing. But, once a crisis hits, how vulnerable are countries to the fallout? Those already living in poverty are particularly at risk. Despite recent progress in poverty reduction, about one in four people still live in multidimensional poverty or are vulnerable to it, and more than 40 percent of the global population does not have any social protection.
The COVID-19 pandemic has reminded the world at large that disruptions in one place are contagious, triggering problems elsewhere. For instance, some countries depend majorly in remittances whilst others depend on tourism which injects a bigger chunk to their GDP, hence the need for a collaborative approach towards containing and totally eradicating the virus.