GZERO Media logo

Ian Bremmer: America's Average Coronavirus Response

How is the United States doing so far? We're not the best; we're far from the worst. Overall, about average.

To understand how countries are responding to COVID-19, look at the whole government: federal, state, local. Is the government working effectively with the private sector? Look at the healthcare response; fiscal; monetary. Ensure that the virus is contained and people are treated. Make sure the economy continues to function. Finally, are people listening. Given a strong government response, people aren't paying attention, it gets worse. You need alignment & compliance.


The US response on the healthcare side has been late and comparatively ineffective. US already underinvested in healthcare infrastructure, particularly Red States and rural areas with under-served populations. Lack of testing, wasted time, inability to understand the level of spread - real potential of healthcare systems in the US to get overwhelmed.

When Dr. Fauci suggested 100,000 or 200,000 deaths in the United States - an extraordinary number (context of a normal flu season: about 2-4 times vs last year) - it implies that healthcare systems don't get overwhelmed. It implies 20 to 50 million total cases in the US; people who need ICU treatment get it; they have personnel to provide ICU treatment. That may not happen in New York, New Orleans. Compared to most developed countries, the US healthcare response has been substandard.

The private sector response has been strong, ensuring active efforts to develop a vaccine, drugs, to get testing up to speed quickly. The American corporates have done better than the European corporates.

On the monetary and fiscal side, the US has outperformed the scale, scope, and immediacy of the bipartisan 2008-2009 response. Also well-beyond Europe, Japan or South Korea. It's necessary - shutdown of global supply and demand will last at least 3 months. That's a big deal.

All together the Americans are responding slightly better than average. It's not Italy on the bad side, not Germany on the good side. Not South Korea on the good side. Closer to France, the United Kingdom. The UK was late in talking about shutdowns, lockdowns and social distancing. Put the US in context of other rich states.

Put the US in the context of poorer states, which can't afford economic shutdowns like the wealthy world. They can't physically social distance because the average citizen doesn't have space to keep other people distant. The governments don't have the healthcare system to take care of those who will need treatment. The good news: most emerging markets have had comparatively limited explosions of cases so far. In part because they don't have the same level of globalization, people transiting from all over the world, China, Europe, the US. One of the reasons for limited African cases is because they're comparatively deglobalized. But they're not testing much. The exponential rise of cases will be on the same path as the US and in Europe. Turkey, Brazil, Mexico.

International support for those countries isn't there. 3 weeks ago, we got $50 billion in support from the IMF for emergency funding, expecting 3-5 countries to ask for it. It was 81 countries, as of this weekend. Expecting 100+ this week. The money won't be enough. They'll need 10% of GDP in fiscal relief. It's not going to come domestically. It's probably not coming internationally.

Criticize the US response for lack of international leadership. The US has done virtually nothing. No coordination with other countries in data, responsive communications. No good advance information to allies. No good coordination with China. Historically, in major crises, the US takes a leadership role, not always in a productive way. After 9/11, the Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq - money spent, human consequences, failed wars. But the Americans took a leadership role. 08-09, as well. Today, complete absence of American leadership internationally. That's where the Americans fail.

The response from the US has been slightly better than average. If you focus on Trump, the response has been lousy.

Carbon has a bad rep, but did you know it's a building block of life? As atoms evolved, carbon trapped in CO2 was freed, giving way to the creation of complex molecules that use photosynthesis to convert carbon to food. Soon after, plants, herbivores, and carnivores began populating the earth and the cycle of life began.

Learn more about how carbon created life on Earth in the second episode of Eni's Story of CO2 series.

On Tuesday night, you can finally watch Trump and Biden tangle on the debate stage. But you TOO can go head to head on debate night .. with your fellow US politics junkies.

Print out GZERO's handy debate BINGO cards and get ready to rumble. There are four different cards so that each player may have a unique board. Every time one of the candidates says one of these words or terms, X it on your card. First player to get five across wins. And if you really want to jazz it up, you can mark each of your words by taking a swig of your drink, or doing five burpees, or donating to your favorite charity or political candidate. Whatever gets you tipsy, in shape, or motivated, get the bingo cards here. It's fight night!

More Show less

GZERO Media, in partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Eurasia Group, today hosted its second virtual town hall on the hunt for a COVID-19 vaccine and the challenges of its distribution.

The panel was moderated by New York Times science and health reporter Apoorva Mandavilli and featured Gates Foundation's Deputy Director of Vaccines & Human Immunobiology, Lynda Stuart; Eurasia Group's Rohitesh Dhawan, Managing Director of Energy, Climate & Resources; Gates Foundation CEO Mark Suzman; and Gayle E. Smith, the president & CEO of ONE Campaign and former Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Watch the full video above.

Join us today, September 29th, at 11 am ET for a GZERO Town Hall livestream event, Ending the COVID-19 Pandemic, to learn about the latest in the global hunt for a COVID-19 vaccine.

Watch here at 11am ET: https://www.gzeromedia.com/events/town-hall-ending-the-covid-19-pandemic-livestream/

Our panel will discuss where things really stand on vaccine development, the political and economic challenges of distribution, and what societies need to be focused on until vaccine arrives in large scale. This event is the second in a series presented by GZERO Media in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Eurasia Group.

Apoorva Mandavilli, science & global health reporter for the New York Times, will moderate a conversation with:

  • Lynda Stuart, Deputy Director, Vaccines & Human Immunobiology, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  • Rohitesh Dhawan, Managing Director, Energy, Climate & Resources, Eurasia Group
  • Mark Suzman, CEO, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  • Gayle E. Smith, President & CEO, ONE Campaign and former Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development

Add to Calendar


Sign up here to get alerts about future GZERO Media events.

700,000: An additional 700,000 Syrian children may go hungry this year due to the combined effects of the war-ravaged country's economic implosion, as well as coronavirus restrictions, pushing the total number of food-insecure kids in Syria to over 4.6 million, according to Save the Children. Two thirds of surveyed children have not eaten any fresh fruit in three months.

More Show less
UNGA banner

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's Newsletter: Signal