Global Impact of COVID-19 on the Balance of Economic and Political Power
The global outbreak of COVID-19 and the subsequent declaration of COVID-19 by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a global health emergency in January 2020 has caused a significant imbalance in the global economic and political powers. The first diagnosis of the virus in Wuhan, China has been followed by fast transmission of the virus to over 190 countries across the globe with focal points of the infection rapidly changing for China to Europe and now to the United States.
The outbreak of the pandemic has resulted in more than 2.1 million people across the world contracting the deadly viral disease with thousands of fatalities registered in different parts of the world (Sohrabi et al., 12). The economic sector has been hard hit. Based on the realism theory of international relations, the outbreak of COVID-19 can be understood as a factor that has been used by world political powers and economic giants to increase their political power and economic growth relative to others (Center for Strategic and International Studies 2). Both political and economic imbalance has been realized as possible consequences.
With the continued increase in the number of infections across the world daily, more than 80 countries have closed their borders to stop international flights from the countries that are hardly hit by virus infections. Several businesses have been closed and the population in many countries have been forced to self-quarantine. Governments have closed schools in all countries across the world and about 1.5 billion children have been forced to stay at home with their parents (Center for Strategic and International Studies 3).
Over the period from Mid-March 2020 to Mid-April 2020, the world economic structure and severe political imbalance have been experienced. Precisely, there have been rising cases of filed unemployment, insurance, and rising prospects of future economic recession. The rising prospects of future economic recession have led to an increase in the rate of unemployment across the world and this continues to harm global economic growth and goodwill.
COVID-19 and the WHO
After the declaration of COVID-19 as a world pandemic by WHO on March 11, there have been indications of a negative impact on global economic growth. For example, the global trade, as well as the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of many countries, have been forecasted to decline sharply with a probability lying within the first half of the year 2020. The international economic and political structures have been imbalanced in terms of policymaking and trade activities.
Different sectors of the economy have been destroyed and severely affected such as the tourism and hospitality, the supply of medical facilities and equipment across the globe, the global value chains have been destroyed, consumer markets inconvenienced, financial and energy markets, transport sector, food as well as sports and recreational activities have all been severely affected(Fernandes 10). The effect of social distancing which is meant to enhance social interaction among people as a strategy to flatten the growth curve of the disease also has serious implications on business and the daily activities of people across the globe.
As a result of all these, the economic costs of survival have greatly increased across the world, with the situation being worse in developing countries.
Source: World Economic Outlook, International Monetary Fund, April 14, 2020
The outbreak and spread of COVID-19 have also had a significant impact on global politics. From a critical perspective, it is argued that the pandemic has severely changed the status quo of partisan politics in terms of political conversation and this has affected international relations and international political economies as well.
For example, superpower countries such as the United States of America have been accused, through President Donald Trump, of showing little concern and taking meager measures towards containing the pandemic (University of South Carolina 1). This accusation has farther shaped the internal politics of the United States and their trade relations with China, Iran, Russia, Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, and North Korea. The politics of the pandemic have also affected the conversations between the United States and the United Kingdom on Brexit and other issues regarding the efforts of containing the virus.
The break of the pandemic across the globe can also cause significant changes in the national political conversations on matters such as healthcare provision and coverage and this can affect several health workers across the globe. For example, recently, President Donald Trump stopped financial support to the World Health Organization and this continues the hot debate on whether the United States is concerned about ending the pandemic across the globe.
Besides, this is likely to affect the healthcare systems across the globe farther affecting international relations (University of South Carolina 2). There have also been concerns on the rise of authoritarian governments across the globe that have used the crisis as an avenue to tighten their grip of political powers and this continues to shape global politics in handy.
In conclusion, the political and economic imbalance resulting from the global outbreak of COVID-19 can be explored and understood from the realism theory of international relations. While global agencies such as WHO strives to contain the virus, other superpowers and world economic giants such as the United States have refused to show concerns over the efforts aimed at containing the virus.
This is politics of supremacy which continues to make the virus spread uncontrollably in many parts of the world. With the steady shift in the viral epicenter from Asia to Europe and now in the United States within three months since its outbreak in Wuhan, China, there have been severe economic impacts and political orientation in terms of the political conversations between the United States and other parts of the world. The prospects of world economic recession are expected to be severe than the 2008-2012 world economic crisis. The worst is yet to come!
Center for Strategic and International Studies. “COVID-19: New Reality.” Center for Strategic and International Studies, 15 Mar. 2020,
Center for Strategic and International Studies. “The Global Economic Impacts of COVID-19.” Center for Strategic and International Studies, 10 Mar. 2020,
The University of South Carolina. “COVID-19 Impact: How the Pandemic is Affecting Politics.” University of South Carolina, 14 Apr. 2020
Fernandes, Nuno. “Economic effects of coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19) on the world economy.” Available at SSRN 3557504 (2020).
Sohrabi, Catrin, et al. “World Health Organization declares global emergency: A review of the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19).” International Journal of Surgery (2020).