It's been more than six months since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. Cases and deaths have continued to surge around the world — with new hotspots emerging in Latin America and South Asia. A robust global conversation has unfolded in recent months about how politicians in different countries have handled the once-in-a-generation global health crisis, and whether the anti-science views of some populist leaders — like Brazil's Jair Bolsonaro and President Donald Trump in the US —have led to worse outcomes. Here's a look at states with the highest COVID-19 deaths tolls per capita — with highlights for those governed by overtly populist/anti-establishment leaders.
You might think that a global public health crisis would boost public trust in experts, reinforce support for international cooperation, and restore faith in the multilateral institutions leading the response. You might, therefore, assume that the coronavirus pandemic wouldn't play in favor of the largely expert-blasting, populist nationalists who have swept to power in recent years. In truth, the picture is more mixed, and populists may ultimately benefit from the pandemic upheaval. A few thoughts:
'Regeneration' is a mind set and collection of practices which bring a different framing to the moment we find ourselves in. Rather than asking how can we bounce back from the crisis, this approach asks how we might create a system that can evolve, learn, and respond more effectively to the complex challenges that we face now and in the future.
Elections continue despite pandemic: Nearly two-thirds of Americans disapprove of President Donald Trump's handling of the coronavirus crisis. Americans, like voters everywhere, are at odds on many issues these days. But a Trump victory in November would signal that voters aren't ready to blame political leaders for the coronavirus' impact while a loss would make him the world's first COVID-19 political casualty. There are more upcoming coronavirus election tests. Regional elections in Italy later this month will test the strength of that country's wobbly coalition government. Hard-hit Iran will hold a presidential election next June—though it's not clear how far the clerical establishment will go to limit voter choices—and the government's pandemic response will shape broader views of its competence. Voters in virus-ravaged Peru will have their say in April 2021, and Mexico will hold congressional elections in July. A power transition in Germany next year will allow voters angry over COVID-19 restrictions to air their grievances.
Before the coronavirus hit Europe in March, mainstream political parties were struggling to contain the rise of populist and anti-establishment forces. Did COVID-19 change that trend? While a handful of major populist parties have lost some support and a few others have gained in the polls, voter intention for most of these forces has not in fact changed significantly. We take a look a how ten EU populist parties have polled over the past six months.
Hard Numbers: Nicaragua’s (unofficial) COVID death toll, economic pessimism, social media infodemic, pandemic "denialists"
2,707: Nicaragua's (unofficial) COVID-19 death toll has risen to 2,707, according to the Citizen Observatory, an independent body that disputes the official government figure of only 137 fatalities. Daniel Ortega — the country's authoritarian populist president and one of very few world leaders who initially refused to impose a lockdown — has been widely criticized for his handling of the pandemic.
How does Europe fit in? Even before the pandemic struck, Europe was struggling to redefine its role in a world where the US is a more fickle ally and China is a more assertive challenger. In particular, Brussels has been trying to style itself as a global leader in the responsible regulation of tech companies. In some ways, the pandemic has boosted those ambitions: as governments use contact tracing apps and facial recognition to help stop the spread, Brussels regulators are paying close attention. They're also cracking down on misinformation about the coronavirus. But first the EU has a bigger challenge to address. Faced with the worst economic crisis in its history, it has to prove to a rising chorus of (euro)skeptics that it is capable of cushioning the blow, and equitably rebooting economic growth across the Union. The European Commission, fearing an economic and even political fragmentation of the bloc, has unveiled an unprecedented 750 billion euro coronavirus rescue plan -- but not all member states are in favor.
The global race is on to develop a vaccine against COVID-19. While it usually takes many years to develop and widely distribute vaccines, scientists around the world are now trying to get one ready within the next year — an unprecedented time frame. The race has generated fierce competition among countries, as everyone wants to develop a vaccine on their home turf first, not only for prestige, but also to get their citizens at the front of the line for the shots when they are available. Still, while the scientific world is now rife with geopolitical rivalries over the COVID-19 vaccine, there's also a lot of international collaboration going on behind the scenes. Here's a look at the vaccines currently in Phase II of the clinical trial process, meaning they are being tested on hundreds of people of various age groups to determine their effectiveness and safety. If they pass this stage they move to wider testing in Phase III, the final step before approval.