The arrival of the coronavirus at the end of last year directed the world’s attention toward China, with its bat soup and exotic pangolins. In February, attention moved to Europe with the explosion of cases in Italy and Spain, followed by Great Britain. Today, five months since COVID-19’s initial inception, the pandemic’s epicenter has spread to the Americas, which account for more than half of the active cases worldwide.
Without a doubt, the alarming situation on the American continents is concentrated in two locations, the United States in the north and Brazil in the south. In both cases, significant responsibility has fallen upon their leaders. Since the beginning, they have prioritized the continuation of local economic operations at the expense of the health care system. We are clearly talking about Donald Trump and Jair Bolsonaro, the latter of whom insists that COVID-19 is barely a “mild flu.”
The numbers are conclusive: As of this past Wednesday morning, the American continents account for 1.3 million of the 2.4 million active cases worldwide. In other words, more than half of those currently infected with the virus are in the Americas. From this figure, 1.1 million cases are in the United States and 58,600 are in Brazil. What’s worse, the numbers continue to increase day by day. Five months after the start of the pandemic in China, the death toll of the virus has reached 258,000 at the global level, with North and South American deaths at 91,000. Of the latter, the United States and Brazil account for almost all deaths, with 71,000 and 8,000, respectively. The numbers are shocking.
As shocking as the accountability of leaders like Trump and Bolsonaro. Spanish journalist and Professor Ignacio Ramonet recently wrote, “If it’s true that great historic leaders emerge during bad times, the stress, confusion, and disorder of this pandemic is characterized by the opposite: an absence of great leadership at the head of the major Western powers.”
Characters like Trump and Bolsonaro must be accountable to their people. Better yet, to the people of the continent since both countries have transformed into hotbeds that affect surrounding nations. Brazil is on its way to becoming the new epicenter of the outbreak, and we Argentinians are next door to them. For a country like Argentina, whose government and society are making an enormous effort to get the pandemic under control, this is another cause for concern. The irresponsibility of some continental neighbors may push the region into an abyss.