The pandemic is reaching all corners of the world and the United Nations Secretary General is sounding the sirens about poor countries in Africa being at great risk of being overwhelmed by the virus. UN Secretary-General António Guterres said “We are as strong as the weakest health systems. Protecting the developing world is not a matter of charity or generosity but a question of enlightened self-interest.”
He might want to address the rich Persian Gulf monarchies more directly.
Most of the COVID-19 tests have been administered by large countries like India, and hard hit countries like the United States, Italy and Spain. The table below shows the top twenty countries where tests have been administered.
|Country||1M pop||Tests||1M pop|
One country stands out in the top 20 – the United Arab Emirates. A country with fewer than 10 million people has already had over 1.6 million tests performed. It amounts to a whopping 162,108 tests per million people, or over five times the average of 31,700 per million for the other top countries.
This rich Muslim kingdom is not an outlier. Nearby Bahrain has had 143,508 tests per 1 million people.
While the UAE does contribute to the World Health Organization (less than 1.0% of WHO’s budget), Bahrain gives virtually nothing – less than Sudan, Mali, Eritrea, Uganda, Lesotho and many other African countries.
Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Oman have run 56,243, 17,324 and 11,985 tests per million people, respectively, a fraction of the rate of Bahrain, but at least each has contributed to the WHO.
Bahrain has one of the highest GDP per capita‘s in the world and has performed among the highest number of COVID-19 tests in the world, but barely gives a penny to the World Health Organization. Forget select vilification of the US for pulling funding of WHO because of the organization’s failures in handling the pandemic; how about a simple mention that it’s time for the rich oil kingdoms to contribute their share.
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