The sixth session of the Webinar Cycle in times of COVID-19, called International Policy in the pandemic, was successfully held. During the session, the panelist, Paulina Astroza Suárez, spoke about the scope and effects of the measures taken by governments on the occasion of the health crisis, as well as the paradigm shift that has been generated and the crisis in international leadership that we are facing.

Dr. Astroza pointed out that some governments, such as that of the United States, are not leading the management of the pandemic, but they are using the pandemic as a kind of new internal campaign tool, seeking support within their country. In that sense, the president of the USA, at the beginning of the pandemic, did not consider it severe enough, did not follow the experts’ recommendations, and treated it like another flu. For example, in 15 tweets, he values and praises China’s management for the control of the pandemic, and later, changes his discourse to start attacking International Organizations, particularly the WHO, and blaming China for the current situation. It even led him to think about suing China within the US to request compensation for the damage caused.

Continuing with her presentation, Dr. Astroza identified that the management of the World Health Organization (WHO) during the pandemic has been in question. It should be noted that the WHO is part of the United Nations System, but does not have its own budget, but there are some States, Foundations and International Organizations that contribute resources to the WHO’s budget. Additionally, she pointed out that the largest contributor to the WHO’s budget (15-16% of the budget) is the United States, which is why its president announced the suspension of this contribution, precisely because he considers this organization to be in favor of China. The second largest contributor is the Melinda and Bill Gates Foundation, leading to the US announcement reporting that their Foundation will increase their contribution. Faced with the leadership vacuum produced by the attitude of the United States during this pandemic, other states have attempted to fill those gaps, but with very limited capacities.

Continuing with the exhibition, Dr. Astroza points out that, in Europe, Úrsula Von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, on May 4, called an international conference that brought together more than 50 stakeholders with the idea of collecting at least 7,500 million euros to make available for science and research so that a COVID-19 vaccine or treatment can be sought multilaterally in order to make this a global public good, i.e., accessible to everyone worldwide.

Meanwhile, Latin America is the current epicenter of the Pandemic. The figures are alarming; specifically, the cases of Brazil, Mexico, and Chile are very complex. It is worth highlighting the cases of Uruguay and Costa Rica for having managed the situation better.

In Africa there has been no greater contagion and higher deaths from this pandemic, which is why this has been highlighted by the WHO. Some have stressed that because Africa has suffered from other pandemics, they have prior knowledge of pandemic control. This is a fact to consider.

On the other hand, unlike what happened recently with Ebola for example, there is no active role on the part of the United Nations, despite messages from its Secretary General Antonio Guterrez. There is a lack of impetus on the part of the USA in that Organization.

At the end of the presentation, she informs that, in this scenario, world leadership is not identified, only regional initiatives and specific cases of leadership are observed that today we can brand as successful (looking at the figures), such as female leaders who have indeed shown very positive results in New Zealand, Taiwan, Iceland, Denmark, Germany.

You can watch the recording of the webinar below:

For more information about the webinars, as well as the actions carried out by the SAIs and the COVID-19 Blog, visit the page:

Regional actions in times of COVID-19