The virus in the developing world
During the initial phase of the coronavirus pandemic, an apparent anomaly was puzzling health experts around the world: Why was the virus pummeling rich countries, but seemed to leave many poorer nations relatively untouched?
Theories abounded. Some speculated that developing nations were insulated from the worst effects of the virus because they had younger populations, lower rates of diabetes or warmer climates.
Now, things have changed. The virus is poised to explode across the developing world and is already surging in Latin America, the Middle East, South Asia and Africa — areas much less equipped to fight it. In the Central African Republic, for example, there are only three ventilators for a population of five million. In some countries, there are none at all.
However, our colleague Nicholas Kristof, an Opinion columnist who writes about health and global affairs, told us that there was a “misfocus” in the United States on the direct medical effects of the virus in poorer countries. The real damages, he said, are the unseen effects that the virus — and the economic disaster that follows it — could have on nutrition, child mortality, vaccination rates and education.
Nick noted that those problems would disproportionately affect one group in particular: girls and young women.
“We know that when families don’t have enough food, they sometimes feed their sons while starving their daughters, or they marry off their daughters as child brides,” he said. “So I’m guessing we’ll see more girls go hungry, more girls pulled out of school permanently, and more girls married in their early teens.”
The fallout from the virus will also linger long after the pandemic ends, Nick said.
“The brains of children who are malnourished often don’t develop properly,” he told us. “So, 50 years from now, there will be adults whose cognitive capacity will be diminished because in 2020 they were malnourished.”
Of course, wealthier countries are facing their own crises and may not have the resources — or desire — to help poorer countries when the virus takes hold. But when it comes to helping the developing world, Nick told us, it’s not just our values at stake, but also our interests.
“With an infectious disease, the world is only as safe as the weakest link,” he said. “People will travel and the virus will travel, and so it’s going to be important that we address it globally.”
A summer for hitting the road
Going on vacation this year will most likely mean staying close to home, with many people opting for destinations within driving distance to avoid the germs and social-distancing challenges of air travel.
But the road trip has long presented a unique danger for black Americans, our colleague Tariro Mzezewa writes. The now-famous “Green Book,” first published in 1936, listed towns, motels and restaurants where black drivers were welcome. More than 80 years later, the fear of encountering discrimination and racism remains — particularly in the wake of the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery.
That isn’t stopping black Americans from hitting the road, though — often with meticulous plans to avoid areas where they might feel unsafe. Some, like Jeff Jenkins, a travel blogger who intends to visit several national parks this summer, are joining the legions of new R.V. travelers in the U.S.
“I have pride that this is my country, and I have every right to bask in the wonders of America, like any white American,” he said.
Passport delays: If you’ve planned an international trip, make sure your passport doesn’t require renewal. The State Department is working through a backlog of 1.7 million applications after the virus shut down most consular services.
What else we’re following
Scientists found a genetic mutation in the coronavirus that allowed it to infect more cells and become more resilient. The findings came from a tightly controlled laboratory experiment, however, and there’s no evidence that the mutation makes the virus more deadly or harmful.
President Trump will resume indoor rallies this month, with one caveat: Attendees can’t sue his campaign or the venue if they contract the virus.
On today’s episode of “The Daily,” Michael Barbaro speaks to a teacher in Columbus, Ohio, about the struggles of virtual teaching during the pandemic.
Peru was lauded as a model in controlling the virus early on, but deep-rooted inequality and corruption have turned it into one of the world’s worst hot spots.
China has created thousands of fake accounts on Twitter to spread misinformation about its response to the virus, the social media platform said.
“We have grieved, grown and healed”: The latest Modern Love column features poignant stories of isolating together during the pandemic.
This has been a year for weird dreams. The Times Opinion section chose 20 submitted by readers, who described surreal encounters with Oprah, Joe Exotic and Chief Justice John Roberts.
What you’re doing
Every Saturday night, my husband and I get together to read a play via Zoom with eight or nine friends from community theater. Each week, someone picks a play, assigns parts and assigns someone to read stage directions.
— Lauri Jacobs, Wynnewood, Pa.
Let us know how you’re dealing with the outbreak. Send us a response here, and we may feature it in an upcoming newsletter.
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