A full-blown crisis can bring out the best or the worst out of individuals as well as nations. Often, existing fissures in society can rise to the surface; or they may be papered over for collective action to douse the raging wildfire that threatens to incinerate all. COVID-19 is proving to be a great leveler of inequities, forcing rich members of the G20 to unite to meet this unprecedented challenge in a globalised world.
Originating in China’s Wuhan, the virus has so far spared none. It has galloped across the world map, engulfing countries at a speed that has left them overwhelmed, with health-care systems stretched to limits. The lockdowns and sealing of borders, restricting movement of goods and people, has disrupted supply chains and traffic to an extent that has affected the global economy and trade as never before. At last count, the global infection toll had risen to 800,000, forcing US President Donald Trump to acknowledge that the coronavirus pandemic could well leave nearly 200,000 people dead in his country. The situation elsewhere has been as grave.