The strength of global democracy was tested by the coronavirus in 2020 — and COVID mostly won. The Economist Intelligence Unit's Global Democracy Index fell last year by an average 0.07 points, the biggest drop since the annual ranking was first compiled in 2006. Government-imposed restrictions on individual freedoms and civil liberties due to the pandemic are partly responsible for the decline, and this is true for a majority of countries regardless of how well they managed the pandemic. We take a look at how democracy performed in 2020 in the 10 countries that handled the pandemic best and in the 10 with the worst responses, as measured by the Lowy Institute.
China is the world's most populous country, with a whopping 1.4 billion people. In fact, many individual Chinese provinces would rank among the most populous nations on Earth in their own right. The economic powerhouse of southeastern Guangdong, China's most populous province, is home to as many people as Ethiopia. Up north, Heilongjiang's population is the roughly the same as Australia's. Even the island of Hainan, China's least populous province, is equal in population size to the Eastern European nation of Belarus. Here's a map of China, in which each province is tagged as a country with a similar population size.
Since Martin Luther King Jr delivered his iconic "I have a dream" speech in August 1963, the number of Black Americans elected to the United States Congress has dramatically increased. Still, it wasn't until 2019, more than half a century later, that the share of Black members serving in the House of Representatives reflected the percentage of Black Americans in the broader population —12 percent. To date, only six states have sent a Black representative to serve in the US Senate (recent runoff elections will make Georgia the seventh state), and many states have never elected a Black representative to either house of Congress. Here's a look at Black representation in every US Congress since 1963.
When will we return to a pre-pandemic normal by achieving COVID-19 herd immunity? Well, that depends where you live. While a host of wealthy nations that stockpiled vaccines and have already started rolling them out are planning for a post-COVID recovery in the near-term, the bulk of middle-income states will have to wait many months until the vaccine is rolled out to large swaths of the population. Most developing nations, meanwhile, as well as countries that will only get drugs through the global COVAX facility, may still be living with the coronavirus for three more years, according to predictions by The Economist Intelligence Unit. We compare when the pandemic is likely to end in different groups of countries, based on their access to vaccines and rollout plans.
Earlier this week, much of the world went to sleep — or woke up — to news of an armed insurrection in the US capital. Around the globe, people saw surreal images of rioters, egged on by the president himself, ransacking the seat of government in a country that has long styled itself as both an example and an advocate of democracy. What did the newspapers around the world have to say about it? Here are a few front pages that we particularly liked.
The United States and the European Union have comparable population sizes, but the trajectories of their COVID-19 outbreaks in recent months have been quite different. The US is experiencing a full-blown third wave of the pandemic, which health experts fear will get even worse after millions of Americans ignored CDC warnings to not visit their families for Thanksgiving. In Europe, strict restrictions have brought down the number of daily cases, but mortality rates are still rising and approaching those of the US. The current situation is a sharp contrast to the disparity seen over the summer, when the US suffered a second wave of cases in the Midwest and South while European countries seemed to have kept the coronavirus (mostly) in check due to stricter adherence to social distancing and mask-wearing. Here's a look at the seven-day rolling average of new COVID-19 cases, and three-day rolling averages of new deaths and new deaths per capita in the EU vs the US since March.
While recent news from Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca on the efficacy of their respective COVID vaccines is encouraging, it has also given rise to bidding wars between wealthy countries trying to secure the largest supply of the new drugs for their citizens. Meanwhile, many governments in emerging market economies, where healthcare infrastructure is generally weaker, are worried they'll be kicked to the back of the line in the global distribution process. Indeed, history bears out their concerns: while a lifesaving HIV treatment hit shelves in the West in the mid-1990s, for example, it took years to become widely available in Africa, which saw some of the worst HIV outbreaks in the world. But here's the catch: even if wealthy countries manage to obtain large supplies of vaccines to immunize their populations, the interconnected nature of the global economy means that no one will really be out of the woods until we all are. Here's a snapshot of how many COVID vaccines select countries have already purchased.
Although the United States and the European Union have comparable population sizes, until recently the trajectories of their COVID-19 outbreaks have been vastly different, with the EU seeming to have kept the pandemic mostly in check during the summer months. The US has now surpassed twelve million total infections as most states, particularly in the Midwest, are fighting massive outbreaks. But now Europe is doing even worse: states across the continent are seeing an uptick in average infection and mortality rates that dwarf those of the US, leading several European countries to implement fresh national lockdowns. Here's a look at the seven-day rolling average of new COVID-19 cases, and three-day rolling averages of new deaths and new deaths per capita in the EU vs the US since March.