Atlas Magazine December 2020

The teachings of Covid-19

The Covid-19 pandemic, an unprecedented phenomenon in its scope and consequences, will inevitably leave lasting after-effects. Yet, beyond the different assessments and approaches adopted by the different countries, the current crisis is full of lessons.
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Public health protection has now become an absolute priority. In countries such as the United States, where the State is giving way to private insurance, the response to the crisis is above all political.

The absence of a universal health care system, the exorbitant cost of care, the exclusion of entire sections of the population from any social security coverage are leading to an inexplicable excess mortality in relation to national wealth. Joe Biden’s coming into power is likely to help the implementation of a more collective American healthcare system.

For the vast majority of countries, the urgency lies in the financing of equipment, the reorganization of the medical sector, the upgrading of healthcare personnel, and the health sector being called upon to become the number one priority, along with education.

The second major lesson is that the pandemic has boosted the role of the State, which is once again becoming a reference. At the peak of the crisis, this nation-state, ideologically strengthened, did not think twice before exercising its sovereignty, putting the market in "pause mode", decreeing the shutdown of non-essential activities along with the closure of borders and lockdown.

The transition from a market economy to an "administered" economy was self-imposed. Only the State and central banks have the capacity to pour hundreds of billions to save the economy and preserve the social fabric. The State appears as the final safeguard on which the collective can rely.

Finally, the health crisis has definitively highlighted the limits of the insurance sector, with private insurers devoid of any resources to face the risk of a pandemic. Moreover, the sector remains under the threat of two other systemic risks, namely cyber risks and climate change.

Atlas Magazine N°176, December 2020

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