On May 7, GSL Director Steven Hoffman joined host Steve Paikin and Doctors Without Borders Board President Dr. Wendy Liu on TVO’s The Agenda to discuss the impact of COVID-19 in developing countries.
In the wide-ranging interview, Hoffman elaborated on a number of topics relating to the subject, such as developing countries’ capacity to stem the tide of COVID-19, the impact of the disease on the global food system, the ethics behind equitable vaccine distribution, the WHO’s role in helping developing countries, and our attitude to diseases in the future that might not affect us.
On the topic of how prepared developing countries are to fight COVID-19, Hoffman explained that their response depended on three factors: Public health capacity, health care capacity and social protections. While some developing countries have adequate public health and health care capacity, it is lacking social protections that could affect these places the most. In the case of Ebola, lacking social protections resulted in more casualties from Ebola-related circumstances than from the disease itself.
When the conversation shifted to the global food system, Hoffman argued that the system is always on the cusp of distress and that only small changes in food prices can lead to food insecurity and famine. On the topic of vaccines, Hoffman reported that this is a topic that worries him the most since it is highly likely that the countries who develop possible vaccines against COVID-19 would benefit from them first and that developing countries would have to line up behind. However, if in our interdependent world the vaccines are only made available to rich countries, the disease will continue to spread.
Watch the full interview on the right.