Nov 12, 2020 08:30 PM

Caixin Summit: Pandemic a Global Wake-Up Call for a Divided World, Jared Diamond Says

Jared Diamond
Jared Diamond

American geographer and best-selling author Jared Diamond said the Covid-19 pandemic, which has infected more than 51 million people and killed nearly 1.3 million globally as of Thursday, may serve as a wake-up call, forcing people to trust each other again to solve the global problem.

Speaking at the Caixin Summit on Thursday via video link, Diamond said that because of the new coronavirus, countries are closing borders, hoarding masks and becoming suspicious of others not sharing vaccines.

However, Diamond said, the Covid-19 pandemic is a global problem as the virus travels globally and thus no country can solve it alone.

Diamond’s comment came as Covid-19 cases are rebounding in countries that are entering winter. In the United States, daily caseloads are skyrocketing, and hospitalization has reached an all-time high, with more than 60,000 patients.

A professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, the 82-year-old geographer’s best-seller “Guns, Germs and Steel” won the Pulitzer Prize in 1998.

In a Caixin online discussion in June, Diamond also urged that countries must be “honest and united” in facing global crises such as the Covid-19 pandemic, climate change, resource exhaustion and inequality.

“In a world with Covid, it seems to foster mistrust,” he said. “We close borders between countries so that one country will not get reinfected by citizens from another country, but we’re also closing borders within countries.

“There will be even more mistrust when we have vaccines. When one country develops a vaccine, there’s concern that there will be mistrust and that country will not share its vaccine with other countries,” he warned.

“Thus, Covid has provoked mistrust between countries and within countries,” he said, ”but just consider this mistrust is suicidal. It’s disastrous for ourselves. No country can protect itself against Covid because Covid crosses national boundaries.”

He urged countries to acknowledge that the pandemic is a global problem that needs a global solution.

“The world is only partly acknowledging that Covid is a global problem. Covid is teaching us that we have to think of other countries and other citizens. It’s impossible for one country alone to solve its global problem.”

Diamond said his family lost “five of its dearest, lifelong friends” who have died from the new coronavirus. “I would be the last person to deny the seriousness of the Covid.”

“But nevertheless, I see Covid as bringing potential benefits to the world,” the professor said. “It may force people to start trusting each other and to recognize that the world is interconnected, that we face the global problem of Covid and this global problem requires a global solution.”

Contact reporter Lu Zhenhua ( and editor Joshua Dummer (

For more on the 2020 Caixin Summit, click here.

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