The need for fast learning between countries: The Global Pathfinder Initiative

Given the urgency to act swiftly during this unprecedented time, governments would benefit from learning quickly from effective strategies that have been implemented by others. There is as yet no standard playbook to shape the fight against COVID-19. However, by sharing the experiences of countries that have demonstrated an effective response, we can ensure other countries learn fast and reduce the time taken to respond to emerging challenges presented by COVID-19.

The GPF initiative has pulled together effective practices from around the world to provide countries with solutions to manage this challenging situation. The GPF initiative taps a wealth of impactful interventions from countries on the path to recovery. Given the changing nature of the pandemic, the rapid sharing of effective practices will enable countries to make better decisions. Lessons learnt will facilitate cross-regional fast learning and serve to increase the chances of effective delivery in specific contexts. It will also enable countries to avoid errors that others have made. Whilst the adoption of interventions will rightly differ across countries and contexts, the lessons learnt will no doubt help to guide decision-making as governments consider their next steps.

The GPF initiative has analysed interventions in countries that have ranked highly in both the severity and the recovery Indices of the GCI. The high-performing countries selected for review and analysis consist of low-middle, middle- and high-income countries with a range of population sizes across the world. Sweden has also been included in the research due to its unique approach to managing the spread of the virus.

Note: Ranking is accurate as of 17 May 2020. Changes in ranking are expected due to the dynamic nature of the data.
Figure 5: GCI Recovery Ranking – top 20 countries and Sweden

Sweden has been included in the list because it has consciously adopted an unconventional approach to addressing the COVID-19 pandemic. Whilst the majority of countries have imposed institutional lockdowns and movement control orders to prevent public spread of the infectious disease, Sweden has adopted a distinct and more relaxed approach, anchored in public cooperation and personal responsibility. To ensure minimal disruption to social norms and maintain economic activity, a herd immunity model has been adopted, enabling businesses and public services to resume operations. However, basic guidelines on social distancing and restrictions of gatherings of over 50 people have been imposed.

In comparison to other Scandinavian countries, Sweden has recorded the most cases and highest number of deaths. The country acknowledges that it has adopted a relaxed approach to build resistance and immunity in the long run, while its neighbours – such as Norway, Finland and Denmark – have imposed strict lockdowns and measures similar to other countries to contain the spread of the virus. Sweden has received praise for being able to preserve economic stability and continuity, and for keeping its per capita death rate lower than those of Belgium, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom. Hence, the inclusion of Sweden in the analysis is important to provide insight and information that may contrast with the overall findings, but at the same time, highlight some effective practices.

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