The United States’ reputation as a global power is based on it being a world-beater in business, innovation, technology and military know-how. With the number of deaths in the country from the Covid-19 pandemic having surpassed 100,000 , Americans have been given the grimmest of wake-up calls. Their political leaders have failed them, their health system is wanting and international respect for the self-proclaimed “greatest nation on Earth” has sunk lower. It is evidence that notions of superiority have to be set aside so that lessons can be learned and insularity replaced by cooperation. American politics has long been driven by the ideology of exceptionalism, the thinking that the history and experience of the US is so different that it has to chart its own course. The reluctance to adopt the policies of other governments or even learn lessons from what they have gone through have sometimes led to approaches difficult for outsiders to understand, such as on gun control and health care. Under President Donald Trump, the leadership has been operating in an especially noticeable vacuum, “America first” being its doctrine with alliances and partnerships suffering as a result. The Covid-19 outbreak has shown up the flaws of isolationism, with tragic consequences for citizens and a devastating economic impact. Pandemics are no time for looking inward; there is every need for sharing of information to improve understanding and knowledge. The first deaths of Covid-19 appeared in the US in February, weeks after China had foreshadowed the seriousness of the disease by imposing lockdowns . Even as it spread in Asia and then across Europe, Trump and others in his administration failed to adequately alert citizens and prepare by ensuring there was sufficient protective equipment, test kits and ventilators. The advice of health experts about the seriousness of the threat was repeatedly ignored or downplayed. The World Health Organisation’s test kits were shunned in favour of ones manufactured in the US, many of which proved to be faulty. Trump has repeatedly claimed the US has the upper hand and framed the rising death and infection figures in terms of a victory; that if it had not been for his efforts, the numbers could be dramatically worse. His cavalier approach has been exemplified by a claim that people could treat themselves for Covid-19 by injecting themselves with disinfectant , and playing golf even as the death toll neared the symbolic 100,000 mark. Going-it-alone may not even work when a superpower has wise leadership and global respect. But it is bound to fail when it faces threats like a global economic meltdown, climate change and a pandemic. Leaders, in such trying times, need to be open-minded, learn lessons and cooperate with others.