As countries across the globe continue to battle the novel coronavirus pandemic, the diplomatic spat between the U.S. and Canada over the export of 3M respirator masks has been just one example of how human (and political) instinct comes in to play during a crisis.

It’s the understandable desire to look after your own people first.

The European Union and Turkey have also moved to limit the export of some medical equipment.

The ‘haves’ exerting their power over the ‘have-nots’ has not only been a trend between nations. The same could be seen at the household level, with people all over the world panic-buying and hoarding items like toilet paper, at the potential expense of more vulnerable citizens.

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From the very start of the crisis, the World Health Organization (WHO) has stressed its desire that nations work together to beat COVID-19.

“This problem can only be solved with international cooperation and international solidarity,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

“When health workers are at risk, we’re all at risk.”


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“Health workers in low- and middle-income countries deserve the same protection as those in the wealthiest countries.”

In this Monday, March 9, 2020 photo, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organization speaks during a news conference on the novel coronavirus COVID-19, at the WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. Accompanying him are Michael Ryan, left, executive director of WHO’s Health Emergencies program, and Maria van Kerkhove, right, technical lead of WHO’s Health Emergencies program. (Salvatore Di Nolfi/Keystone via AP)
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