After a year and a half of enduring the Covid pandemic together, countries are separating into two groups. One set, comprising large developed economies such as the US and Europe, as well as China and several smaller nations such as Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Singapore, is vaccinating their populations so rapidly that they will achieve a high degree of protection from the virus soon. It will not be long before these nations — accounting for roughly less than a third of the world’s population — will be able to speedily open up their economies to normal activities, including allowing travel to safe countries without the onerous quarantine requirements. The rest of humanity will have to continue suffering new waves of infections and all the restrictions and dislocations that they bring, for at least another year, or longer. 

Sadly, the divergence in national fates will not end with this pandemic. The same factors that led to differing outcomes in containing the pandemic will also produce disparate trajectories as countries face up to a period of greater turbulence in the world over the coming years.

Why this greater turbulence? Well, start with geopolitics — a highly unsettled world is likely to emerge from the US-China clash: We will see a degree of economic bifurcation as these rivals impose financial and technological restrictions on the other. There could be proxy wars or conflicts.

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