President Donald Trump listens during a session at Ford’s Rawsonville Components Plant, which is now manufacturing personal protection and medical equipment, Ypsilanti, Michigan, May 21, 2020 (AP photo by Alex Brandon).

Six months after the emergence of the novel coronavirus in Wuhan, China, and four months after it became a global outbreak, its political and economic fallout continue to take shape. As government policies adapt and evolve in real time to the changing features of the pandemic, so too do the geopolitical implications. So far, three scenarios have been advanced with regard to COVID-19’s potential impact on the international order. They can be broadly characterized as a change at the top, in which a triumphant and capable China replaces the bungling U.S. as the world’s dominant power; a descent into multipolar […]

Sacristan Michael Seewar prepares the altar for a livestream Easter service at Saint Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral in Seattle, Washington, April 12, 2020 (AP photo by Elaine Thompson).

An article published earlier this month in the largest English-language newspaper in Bangladesh, the Daily Star, inadvertently revealed a lot about different perspectives on religion’s role in society, including during the coronavirus pandemic. The writer argued that religious actors play a “vital stabilizing role” during such global crises and can “offer a beacon of hope” amid “the ravages of this pandemic.” But in the comments, a reader took a starkly different stance with what he called “a rude question”—a few of them, in fact. First, can faith and science go together? Second, how can faith actors help when they fight […]

Dr. Joseph Ballinger gives Marjorie Hill, a nurse at Montefiore Hospital in New York, the first vaccine for the H2N2 virus to be administered in New York, Aug. 16, 1957 (AP photo).

Months into the coronavirus pandemic, it has become clear that countries that recently dealt with other outbreaks of infectious diseases have been more successful in containing COVID-19. From East Asia and the Pacific to West and Central Africa, authorities have made good use of epidemiological expertise they acquired from tackling outbreaks of SARS, MERS, Swine flu and Ebola to quickly roll out containment measures. Yet even governments lacking such experience should have been able to foresee the destructive potential of COVID-19. President Donald Trump may insist that “there’s never been anything like this in history,” but the history of the […]

A nurse injects an elderly woman with an influenza vaccine in Lima, Peru, March 17, 2020 (AP photo by Martin Mejia).

The global quest for a coronavirus vaccine is heating up. Moderna, a Masschusetts-based biotechnology company, announced promising results this week from a limited early trial of its vaccine candidate. And last Friday, President Donald Trump unveiled “Operation Warp Speed,” a new public-private partnership that aims to make a vaccine available in substantial quantities by the end of the year. For this week’s interview on Trend Lines, WPR’s Elliot Waldman is joined by Paul Offit, a physician and director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania, to discuss what it will take to safely manufacture—and fairly distribute—a […]

A government propaganda poster showing Chinese leader Xi Jinping and the words “China Dream” in Wuhan, China, April 2, 2020 (AP photo by Ng Han Guan).

Editor’s Note: Every Wednesday, WPR Newsletter and Engagement Editor Benjamin Wilhelm curates the week’s top news and expert analysis on China. In a speech Monday to the World Health Assembly, the governing body of the World Health Organization, Chinese leader Xi Jinping called for international cooperation in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and in particular for greater support for the developing world. Xi’s remarks were a bold assertion of Chinese leadership at the WHO and in global efforts to contain the coronavirus, carefully designed to deflect international criticism of Beijing’s handling of the initial outbreak. At the annual meeting of […]

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres briefs reporters at U.N. headquarters in New York, Feb. 21, 2020 (DPA photo by Luiz Rampelotto via AP Images).

Is it too late for the United Nations Security Council to make even a modest contribution to international stability during the coronavirus pandemic? After negotiating for the better part of two months, the council’s member states have yet to agree on a resolution addressing the security consequences of COVID-19. Last Friday, the United States refused to endorse a text that the body’s 14 other members were ready to back. It is not clear that a compromise is possible. This is a pity, because the draft resolution the U.S. nixed—worked out by France and Tunisia, the former a permanent member of […]

Children wait to receive free food distributed in a slum in Mumbai, India, April 18, 2020 (AP photo by Rajanish Kakade).

Editor’s Note: You can find all of our coverage of the coronavirus pandemic here. If you would like to help support our work, please consider taking advantage of our subscription offer here. Late last month, as the coronavirus continued to spread across the globe, the World Food Program warned of a “hunger pandemic.” With lockdowns constraining the incomes of the poor and supply chain disruptions preventing food from reaching consumers, pandemic-related hunger and malnutrition could eventually take more lives than the disease itself. Understanding the geography of the pandemic and the vulnerability of different food systems is critical for a […]

President Donald Trump arrives at a campaign rally in Charlotte, North Carolina, March 2, 2020 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

Since reports of a novel coronavirus outbreak in China emerged around the new year, the lion’s share of attention has focused on immediate efforts to contain and respond to the pathogen that has now infected millions around the world and killed nearly 300,000 people, according to official counts. As the initial wave crests in many countries, observers are debating how the pandemic might reshape the world order, including prospects for international cooperation. Some anticipate accelerated U.S. decline and the advent of a more multipolar world. Others predict a deepening authoritarian turn worldwide, with an emboldened China atop the global standings. […]

President Donald Trump during an event in the Oval Office of the White House, Washington, May 6, 2020 (AP Photo by Evan Vucci).

Editor’s Note: Guest columnist Steven Metz is filling in for Candace Rondeaux this week. When the Soviet Union collapsed in the early 1990s, the United States could have decided that its great fight against totalitarianism was finally over. America could have downsized its involvement in all but the most vital parts of the world, lessened its dependence on imported energy supplies, demilitarized its global strategy and abandoned the quest for primacy. But it did not. By then, Americans had become addicted to primacy, convinced that a militarized form of global leadership was both vital and sustainable. All of this no […]

A man jogs on an empty street along the Seine river in Paris, France, April 4, 2020 (AP photo by Christophe Ena).

After months of living under strict lockdowns, many people have grown accustomed to scenes that once would have been utterly surreal, like normally busy highways and thoroughfares suddenly emptied of vehicles. Photographers around the world have documented how wild animals are reclaiming national parks in the absence of human visitors. Atmospheric researchers have documented dramatic declines in air pollution. All of this will simply be a temporary salve for the environment if the economy comes roaring back, business as usual, once the public health threat recedes. But it could also be the beginning of a new normal, a transition point […]

Afghan security personnel wear protective face masks to help curb the spread of the coronavirus, Kabul, Afghanistan, April 8, 2020 (AP photo by Rahmat Gul).

The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the entire world—but in vastly different ways. In particular, efforts to “flatten the curve” could create huge but unquantified costs for the most vulnerable. As a result of measures to contain the coronavirus’s spread, the specter of “biblical” hunger now hangs over much of the globe. At the same time, social distancing strategies remain an unattainable mirage for the hundreds of millions of people living in crowded quarters in the developing world. For fragile and conflict-affected countries, the pandemic represents a grim, dual challenge that risks threatening a precious good: peace. Many of these countries […]

A woman is told to go home by a police officer on a motorbike to stop the spread of the coronavirus, on Primrose Hill, London, April 5, 2020 (AP photo by Matt Dunham).

For as long as there have been governments, pandemics have been occasions for the exercise of greater muscle by the state. In the case of COVID-19, that muscle has predominantly been the police. From the initial outbreak and first mass quarantine in the central Chinese city of Wuhan to the lockdowns around the globe today, national leaders and local officials alike have called on their police to play a new set of roles and enforce a new set of rules. What’s gone well and what’s gone badly? What’s been learned? And what’s next? Before examining any actual policing, it is […]

The United Nations Security Council meets at U.N. headquarters in New York, Feb. 11, 2020 (AP Photo by Seth Wenig).

Over the past three months, world leaders struggling with the coronavirus pandemic have no doubt felt a little bit like pilots in the cockpit of an airplane that is malfunctioning and losing altitude quickly. They have tried to remain calm and act fast, despite not always knowing what exactly is wrong. They’ve called controllers on the ground for help and advice, flipped switches and checked internal systems, all the while reassuring anxious passengers. Despite some severe turbulence and initial failures, most leaders have avoided a crash landing. With varying degrees of success, they are managing their way through the first […]

A woman wearing a mask and gloves waits outside a soup kitchen run by nuns in Caracas, Venezuela, April 30, 2020 (AP photo by Ariana Cubillos).

The ultimate cost of the coronavirus pandemic won’t be tallied for a while. But one casualty seems obvious now: sustainable development. The pandemic has exposed the world’s failure to meet basic human needs, not least in health. Worse, it threatens to erase recent social, economic and environmental progress, particularly among the world’s most vulnerable populations. Pundits frequently describe the coronavirus as a “great equalizer,” reinforcing the message that “we’re all in this together.” In truth, the pandemic is reinforcing the brutal inequality that separates the world’s privileged and marginalized communities. Five years ago, U.N. member states endorsed the Sustainable Development […]

Cover image: Healthcare professionals prepare to begin testing at a drive-thru testing site for COVID-19 at United Memorial Medical Center Thursday, March 19, 2020, in Houston (AP Photo/David J. Phillip).

Just months after reports emerged of a novel coronavirus spreading in central China, our world, and all of our individual worlds, have been transformed by what has become a terrifying pandemic.What can governments, other global actors and individuals do survive the crisis and navigate the new world beyond it? Download your FREE copy of Resilience In the Face of the Coronavirus Pandemic to learn more today. In just a few months, the tightly connected systems of a globalized world have transformed the novel coronavirus from a handful of cases in China to a global pandemic. But we have yet to […]

Facebook announced on April 16, 2020, that it will direct users who engaged with misinformation to a World Health Organization website (AP photo by Amr Alfiky).

In late March, as many governments were enforcing lockdowns and restrictions on movement to slow the spread of the coronavirus, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro posted a series of videos to social media that showed him strolling around a crowded marketplace near Brasilia. In one clip, Bolsonaro questioned the quarantine measures that were being implemented by local and regional officials in Brazil, which now has the second-worst outbreak of COVID-19 in the Western Hemisphere, with more than 87,000 confirmed cases and 6,000 deaths. He also touted the benefits of hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malarial drug, despite a lack of scientific evidence that it […]