September 25, 2020

Credit: francescoch  / Getty Images

As COVID-19 began to sweep through the U.S. in early March, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, among others, declared it the “great equalizer” — an experience uniquely universal. But six months and 200,000 deaths later, it’s clear that the pandemic has made an unequal society, well, more unequal.

According to political scientist and international risk consultant Ian Bremmer, economic disparity and political polarization are on the rise globally too. When we finally reach a long-sought post-pandemic world, steady access to education, testing and travel will give the wealthy a headstart to recovery, says Bremmer, president of Eurasia Group and GZERO Media.

Three Takeaways:

  • Economic inequality has been growing in the U.S. for decades, Bremmer says, and the pandemic looks to accelerate this. The federal government applied some quick monetary Band-Aids to stabilize the stock market and help the tens of millions out of work. But with those supports now ending, Bremmer says, “I don’t think we’ve come close to feeling the depth of this.”
  • Of the potential vaccines to be rolled out in 2021, 50% have already been bought out by the world’s wealthiest countries, according to Bremmer. He warns that this could become an “important piece of political leverage,” making room for China to distribute life-saving vaccines to poorer countries, accelerating their political alignment with the global superpower.
  • With no timeline for vaccine rollout and distribution, testing is the number one priority in getting back to normal, Bremmer says. But the problem is it’s extremely expensive. So who will be first to return to jobs, schools and daily life? Those who have the resources to afford regular testing.

More Reading:

  • Earlier this month, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation released its 2020 Goalkeepers Report with updates on the fight against international poverty and disease – a fight that this year came to a striking standstill. The report’s fascinating in its own right, but this Wall Street Journal article provides additional context for it.
  • Bremmer mentions that one of the U.S.’s main missteps in dealing with COVID was the politicization of the virus. Dr. Anthony Fauci talked about exactly that on Trevor Noah’s Daily Show recently. 
  • This report by Pew Research Center takes a look at how people in 14 countries view their country’s pandemic response. Spoiler alert — the majority of Americans aren’t pleased with how things have gone.
  • This piece by the Boston Globe offers a great glimpse into the NBA’s COVID bubble, where daily testing and masks mean the basketball league has become “the safest place on Earth,” according to sports reporter Gary Washburn.

coronavirus, Ian Bremmer, pandemic, Business, COVID-19, inequality

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