America has failed to limit the spread of COVID-19. As of January 10, 2020 over 22 million Americans have been infected and more than 370,000 have died. These numbers are in stark contrast to those in many Asian countries. For example, “mainland China, where the pandemic began, has reported less than one one-hundredth of the per-capita fatality rate in the U.S.” This not only shows America’s lack of leadership under President Trump but also that Asian countries have learned from their mistakes during the 2002 SARS outbreak that affected over 8,000 people and killed at least 774 worldwide. Over the past couple of decades since SARS, countries in Asia developed pandemic response teams that were prepared to handle the inception of any novel virus. Thus due to their early preparation, unlike the United States, countries like Taiwan, South Korea, and Vietnam have been able to beat COVID-19 and return to normal life.
One main thing that Asian countries were able to do that the US failed to do was listen to the advice of medical experts and act on that advice as soon as possible. For example in South Korea, where COVID cases were steadily below 100 during the first wave in April, they were able to develop a diagnostic test within 5 days of China announcing the existence of the unknown SARS-CoV-2 virus to the WHO. Furthermore, “the South Korean authorities tested each of them and, more importantly, isolated those who tested positive and monitored their contacts”. On the contrary, America was off to a slow start in terms of testing due to an unnecessary three week delay in February without which could have saved lives.
Although America has failed in its response to COVID-19, it can still take some lessons from the Asian countries that have defeated the virus. Firstly, many Asian governments and officials reminded their citizens to wear masks, socially distance, and stay at home. They also provided healthcare workers with adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) to treat patients with COVID-19. But, the United States of America, the richest country on the planet, was unable to do the simple things that many Asian countries were able to and is now suffering because of it.