James Meek, 2 July 2020
At the beginning of the coronavirus epidemic it was gravely expected that the Euro-American countries would hold firm, with their sophisticated healthcare systems based around high-tech hospitals, while the disease would cut a terrible swathe through Africa. The question of solidarity, or the lack of it, would come down to how much or how little the rich countries were willing to give the less well-off. So far it hasn’t happened that way. The formerly colonised countries, with their thinly resourced health systems, have been spared the worst; it is the old colonisers, with their ventilators and ECMO machines, that have suffered. Senegal has had far fewer deaths than France, the Democratic Republic of Congo far fewer than Belgium, Kenya far fewer than Britain. That may yet change. More remarkable is the way the epidemic has exposed a lack of solidarity within Western countries themselves. The debate about the path of global health improvements turns out to be meaningful within countries as well.