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Imagine if virtually everything about the United States’ ongoing response to COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, goes wrong. That test kit shortages persist for months. That the country utterly fails to bolster the capacity of the hospitals and intensive care units and expand the supply of protective facemasks, gloves, and ventilators. That an already stretched health system proves incapable of tracing, isolation, and quarantine. That ordinary citizens fail to separate themselves from one another and most businesses stay open.

Now, imagine all of that, only several orders of magnitude worse. For any number of developing countries, such a scenario is not a matter of speculation. It’s a likely future, if not an imminent reality.

The novel coronavirus pandemic began mainly in developed countries theoretically better equipped to deal with its repercussions—whether China, South Korea, Singapore, or Italy. Although they, too, are struggling to cope, these

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