Diplomatic Immunity: COVID-19



The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a variety of successes and failures in global and domestic affairs. With some countries ignoring lockdown procedures and others shutting down virtually every aspect of their economy, comparing them provides insight towards what has helped.


Since the spread of the COVID-19 virus, there have been cycles of fluctuating cases. Each outbreak can be attributed to each nation’s response, which differ in degrees of severity. The following information and statistics relate to these outbreaks, and how respective nations have handled them on their home soil.

United States
Total Cases: 9,202,191
Total Deaths: 234, 079
After thinking the country had peaked in mid-July, many Americans stopped following safety precautions like social distancing, wearing a mask outside and going to crowded events. Currently, Missouri and Vermont are the only states on track to efficiently contain the virus by the end of the year. Without any strong legislation from states that have increasing case counts, a third wave may be imminent in areas such as the midwest.

After President Trump contracted COVID-19, scientists quickly transferred him to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. Through experimental therapeutic drugs and care from top medical staff, the president recovered in less than four days. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, says Trump’s recovery has stirred misconceptions about the dangers of the virus.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have pressured Capitol Hill to increase lockdown measures, but so far action has been minimal. After consecutive Trump campaign rallies in the battleground states of Wisconsin and Michigan, many scientists tracking the case statistics believe they can be classed as superspreader events, similar to the nomination event of Amy Coney Barrett at the White House Garden on Sept. 26.

Total Cases: 228,306
Total Deaths: 10,073
Keeping stronger lockdown precautions compared to their American counterparts, Canada has responded well to COVID-19. Seeing an early spike in cases in mid-April, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has kept a close eye on each province’s case and death counts. With an early peak, Canada is experiencing a second wave in cases due to many not taking safety precautions seriously.

The most affected provinces are Quebec, Ontario and Alberta where major cities like Toronto, Montreal, Quebec City and Calgary are located. On March 19, Prime Minister Trudeau and President Trump closed the United States-Canada Border for non-essential travel. Despite pressure from the public, Prime Minister Trudeau claims it is crucial to keep it closed. The agreement originally planned for the border to reopen Oct. 18, but Prime Minister Trudeau recently explained how it will be prolonged until the United States lowers their cases and acts accordingly.

“We will continue to make sure that Canadian safety is top of mind when we move forward. We see the cases in the United States and elsewhere around the world, and we need to continue to keep these border controls in place,” Trudeau said.

Total Cases: 906,863
Total Deaths: 90,309
On Oct. 5, the Health Ministry of Mexico (Secretaría de Salud) raised their estimates of COVID-19 infections throughout the country from 9,556 cases and 1,092 deaths, to 28,115 cases and 2,789 deaths. Further investigation from the New York Times showed that the government was purposefully hiding thousands of cases.

Additionally, Mexico has struggled with organizing testing centers, a responsibility of the central government. The most affected provinces are Mexico City, Nuevo Leó, State of Mexico and Guanajauto, which are all major cultural and religious centers. Anticipating a successful foreign vaccine, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador agreed to purchase 91 million vaccines from three research leading companies. He hopes to successfully inoculate 26 million people by late December. While Mexico has hid their actual COVID-19 case and death counts, they have improved their administrative actions to protect citizens and establish order in struggling areas.

Total Cases: 498,353
Total Deaths: 10,435
Unlike Italy and Spain, Germany successfully contained COVID-19 at the start of March and April by closing down businesses, churches and other community centers. Seeing a similar trend to other western European countries, Germany reported their highest number of daily cases on Oct. 17.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been outspoken in her attempts to direct the public in effective safety procedures, but the recent rise in cases may undermine that credibility. The country has been praised for its quick response to the outbreak, with an effective contact tracing app (similar to South Korea’s precautions during SARS), deployment of testing kits to every individual, oversupply of ICU beds in hospitals and a government response that hinges on scientific studies exclusively.

Germany has tested effectively and started quarantine early, which has saved them time and valuable resources that they can now use to support other countries. Chancellor Merkel, who has always supported and respected her country’s place in European politics, set an example for struggling nations.

Total Cases: 370,832
Total Deaths: 10,099
Turkey, having an important position in Middle Eastern politics and diplomacy, has created a flawed representation of their COVID-19 cases and foreign affairs. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) has been criticized for gridlocking the country politically, often detaining and humiliating opponents.

The World Health Organization (WHO) questioned the country’s decision to not report asymptomatic cases in their final statistics. Many scientists from the Turkish Medical Association (TTB) came forward stating the case numbers the government showed were completely wrong.

Since his election in 2014, Erdoğan has weakened the authority of Turkish institutions, thereby centralizing the government and giving more power to his party. Many of his domestic policies have been criticized, and with major constitutional changes in 2017 that consolidated the government’s power further, many believe he may be manipulating the societal changes of COVID-19 for his own benefit.

For now, Turkish Minister of Health, Fahrettin Koca, has established clear precautions for the people to follow. As more whistleblowers emerge, however, Erdoğan’s authority continues to be questioned.

Total Cases: 8,088,046
Total Deaths: 121,131
Now with the highest growing number of COVID-19 cases in the world, India has taken a questionable approach to combating the virus.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi issued a lockdown order for the entire country on March 24, but shutting down the economy with over 1.3 billion people came at a hefty price. Many migrant workers were fired with only four hours notice, which led to starvation and the exhaustion of limited resources after they left the cities.

In addition, India has seen an increase in islamophobia due to the pandemic, with many officials and groups posting hate speech across all social media platforms. These posts partially blamed the Islamic community in India for the outbreak. This has just added onto the existing challenges Mulsims in India face.

Similar to Mexico’s reports, independent studies by the WHO concluded India’s actual case count was much higher than it originally reported. Despite their struggles with the virus, India has had major breakthroughs in the development of a vaccine, creating millions of new formulas and planning distribution extensively.

Total Cases: 5,494,376
Total Deaths: 158,969
President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil has become increasingly popular while COVID-19 cases surge within his borders. Now, with the country surpassing daily new case records every week, his approval ratings are higher than ever, at 40% of Brazilians believing he has handled the situation incredibly.

Much of this newfound support can be attributed to a monthly emergency aid payment to single mothers that provides them with a monthly stimulus between $108 and $217.

Bolsonaro has denounced the symptoms and dangers of the virus by advocating against lockdown measures, encouraging others to not fear the virus during public appearances and firing officials who disagree with his policies. Much of his support is based in the capital, Brasilia, where he has held campaign rallies praising President Trump’s response to the virus and opposing COVID-19 orders.

In June, the government deleted months of data and statistics from its official COVID-19 app, which sparked nationwide controversy. Bolsonaro’s administration has had a strong history of bribes and general corruption, which had affected their response to COVID-19

The police found money between the buttocks of one of Bolsonaro’s COVID-19 task force members, which raised skepticism towards Bolsonaro’s claim that corruption was nearing an end. Brazil now has the third highest cases in the world and without proper legislation or action from the government, there are no signs of the country containing it.

Total Cases: 121,167
Total Deaths: 5,934
Early on, Sweden was criticized for their lack of lockdown measures and for not encouraging people to social distance or wear masks. Unlike the rest of Scandinavia (Denmark, Norway and Finland), the government declared citizens would develop antibodies against COVID-19 after initially getting infected.

New research and examples of people getting infected with COVID-19 twice have risen, which puts Sweden’s response into question. The basis of “herd immunity” depends on how an individual will react to the virus once recovering from it. Despite having a generally low case count, the mortality rate is dangerously high, at 58.4 per 100,000 people of the total population. With the country now realizing their approach was misinformed, many government officials have attempted to enforce and encourage people to follow lockdown procedures. According to Time Magazine, Sweden’s initial response was followed by many other nations, creating a ripple effect of high mortality rates and case counts.

The sudden reversal of message came as a surprise to most individuals, and has generally received negative reactions.

United Kingdom
Total Cases: 965,340
Total Deaths: 45,955
According to BBC, the United Kingdom has taken a different approach to combating COVID-19, by having Parliament leave local leaders and mayors to decide what is appropriate for their circumstances. This has had mixed results, with some cities balancing their economies and case counts well, and others not, most notably Manchester and Liverpool.

Mayor of Manchester Andy Burnham was under scrutiny by Prime Minister Boris Johnson for his handling of the virus. The country has seen a dramatic uptick in cases during October, going from 7,108 active cases on Sept. 30, to 17,171 active cases on Oct. 18.

Because of this, the government is establishing a three tier system that they will impose on each city depending on how their cases continue to rise. In the first tier – medium alert level – there would be a ban on social gatherings of more than six people and a 10 p.m. curfew on bars and restaurants. The second level triggers a ban on gatherings by people from different households, and the third and highest level, which was imposed on Liverpool date, has pubs, gyms and other nonessential businesses closed.

These new orders have brought attention to the underlying differences between the Southern and Northern regions of the country, with a divided opinion on what the correct response should be.

Total Cases: 1,581,693
Total Deaths: 27,301
Russia, which experienced a very early surge in cases back in March, is now scrambling to find an effective vaccine after President Vladimir Putin approved two different variants. Like many other European countries, Russia is experiencing a second wave of cases, with their daily high reaching a new record of 13,868.

According to CNN, the country has struggled with their medical responses; many hospitals have reached maximum ICU bed capacity and do not have enough respirators for patients with severe cases. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the government had no intentions of going into a lockdown scenario, but rather intended to tighten restrictions on societal functions.

Russia recently received approval for COVID-19 vaccine trials in India, which is one of the largest research and distribution centers for the virus. This approval is followed by numerous attempts by the government to receive vaccines or therapeutics that had unsuccessful tests.

As the number of cases starts to reach higher than they were in March, the government is focusing on long term solutions that may not work, rather than immediate legislation.