After weeks of contending that the United States has the rapidly spreading coronavirus under control, President Donald Trump has admitted drastic action is necessary. As the World Health Organisation declared the health crisis a pandemic , he announced travel restrictions with 26 European countries. Earlier, plans were unveiled for billions of dollars in loans for small businesses, and lawmakers were called on to enact tax relief measures. But to defeat the threat, he has to set aside rivalry with China so that scientists from both sides can work together to come up with a vaccine and cure. Trump framed the ban as a 30-day suspension on travel from Europe, but it is in reality a restriction on movement similar to that imposed on China last month. It applies only to foreigners and not Americans who had been screened before entering the country, while nations not members of the European Union’s Schengen border-free area, Britain and Ireland among them, are excluded. His move came as Italy, the worst-affected country after China, put in place tougher lockdown measures and Germany’s chancellor, Angela Merkel, warned as many as two-thirds of Germans could eventually be infected . But the disease has already taken hold in the US, with more than 1,000 cases and at least three dozen deaths. The US has been criticised for responding too slowly and by not promptly implementing widespread testing, while the country’s high medical costs and lack of paid sick leave for many workers add to the challenges. WHO secretary general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus made plain the gravity of the crisis, with the number of cases outside China increasing 13-fold in just two weeks. Learn from China to stop coronavirus epidemic, top medical journal says On the heels of calls for governments to more closely cooperate, he expressed concern about the world’s “alarming levels of inaction”. Some countries are less prepared than others, but of one matter there should be particular worry: the two most able to come up with a cure and a vaccine, China and the US, are feuding to the point that their researchers and scientists are unable to pool resources. China, as the first and worst-hit country, has a wealth of data, experience and expertise. It was quick to share the virus’ genetic code and Chinese, American, Australian and European scientists are separately trying to develop a vaccine. A US company has already shipped a version for human testing and clinical trials on a China-created one are expected next month. But no single institution has the capacity or facilities to produce by itself a vaccine that can be distributed globally at a reasonable cost. A year or two could pass without a vaccine and more importantly, a cure. China and the US, as the nations with the best resources, have to set aside their differences and work together for the global good.