Coronavirus Puts Systems for International Cooperation to the Test

Can the international community come together to respond to the unprecedented challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic?

Monday, March 30, 2020  BY: Dr. William J. Long Published in the United States Institute for Peace.

The spread of infectious diseases can foster opportunities for international cooperation, even between rivals. During the Cold War, for example, American and Soviet scientists collaborated to develop and improve a polio vaccine. The unprecedented challenges posed by the novel coronavirus pandemic put in stark relief the need for enhanced international cooperation. What role can the United States play in building such cooperation? In his book “Pandemics and Peace,” published in 2011 by USIP Press, Dr. William Long contended that infectious disease control presents an unparalleled opportunity for American leadership in global public health. Long looks back at the recommendations he made for U.S. global health policy and how they are relevant today and at how other outbreaks in recent years have led to increased cooperation.

Long responds to a series of questions in this article including:

How would you would assess the effectiveness of international cooperation to combat the COVID-19 outbreak? What are some examples of successful cooperation on past global public health challenges?

What has changed in the architecture of international cooperation on public health since you wrote “Pandemics and Peace”? Have epidemics like Ebola or Zika helped increase international cooperation?

In your book, you argued that the U.S. does a lot right when it comes to supporting foreign capacity in infectious disease response—but that it may not go far enough. Nearly 10 years later, how would you asses U.S. global health policy in this regard?

You laid out recommendations for the U.S. global health policy in your book. Have any of them been implemented? And which of those recommendations would be particularly useful now as we deal with the COVID-19 pandemic?

To see what Dr Long says click on the attached link.