A lack of mobilisation capacity was the reason given for Hong Kong’s abandonment of mass Covid-19 testing. Less has been said about the erosion of civil society and its effects on crisis response.
Governments must recognise that technology does not exist in a vacuum but amid broader forces that are often unpredictable. Citizens’ security and privacy concerns cannot be dismissed with assurances about the fairness and objectivity of technology.
While competition can foster innovation, in the current global crisis, concerns about intellectual property protection and efforts to cultivate diplomatic loyalties through vaccine provision can obstruct the type of cross-border collaboration needed.
Tragic though they may be, Covid-19 and the ensuing lockdowns offer a glimpse into an alternative future in which air is safe to breathe. How India and China, as rising powers, manage the pollution and environmental degradation will shape this future.