Are We Prepared for COVID-19 Hitting the Southern Hemisphere?

Maybe we'll get lucky and avoid big coronavirus outbreaks in the red areas, but I wouldn't count on it. We need to be prepared for ongoing large breakouts as the southern hemisphere enters fall and winter and starts to cool off.

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.

I’m not sure I agree with everything Adam Tooze said in his recent interview with Ezra Klein about the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, but I agree with this:

I think the third element is the crisis that is hitting the big emerging markets: the South Africas, the Brazils, the Nigerias, and potentially the Algerians, the Indias, the Indonesias. These are huge countries with big economies, with large American interests in them, and big geopolitical ramifications. And they are in harm’s way. Their currencies are plunging, they have large debts, and they’re going to be hit by the public health crisis on a really epic scale — especially in South Africa, where they have a big immunocompromised HIV[-positive] population.

We don’t have a handle yet on whether COVID-19 is seasonal, but at this point it hardly matters. The southern hemisphere is entering fall, which is coronavirus season no matter what, and they are less prepared to handle it than the rich countries of the northern hemisphere. Nor do they have the financial cushion that rich northern countries have. Financially, the United States is lucky: we have our own currency; we’re enormously rich; we have a highly advanced health care system; and we can afford things like a debt-financed $2 trillion rescue without even blinking an eye. The same is not true of Nigeria or South Africa or India.

If you’re a sociopath, maybe you don’t care. But you should anyway: if the economy of the global south implodes, it will have an impact on us that no puny $2 trillion bailout can fix. So if anyone is thinking about this—Donald Trump certainly isn’t, so it’s up to someone else—we should start making plans for things like temporary debt holidays; longer-term debt restructurings; plain old assistance grants on a huge scale; and ramping up production of medical supplies far beyond our own needs and timeframes.

Is anyone thinking about this? I would like to think so.

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate