Learning from Different Nations' Experiences with COVID-19: Models of Public Inquiry, Methods to Globally Network

Christopher Kirchhoff
Matthew Hoisch
September 20, 2022

While all corners of the world have been touched by COVID-19, countries’ experiences with the virus have certainly not been universal. Staggering divergences in outcomes between countries—in terms of lives lost, economic carnage, secondary health losses, learning loss, and social trust and cohesion, to name a few—underline the urgency of understanding how and why the COVID-19 pandemic has played out as it has in different settings and how we can best mitigate the impacts of this pandemic over the decades to come. This paper looks in detail at one important approach for learning from the pandemic: country-level COVID-19 commissions, i.e. interdisciplinary, country-level and country-led bodies carrying out “lessons learned” reviews of the given country’s experience confronting COVID-19. This paper examines how country-level COVID-19 commissions could be a powerful tool to generate lasting changes in public policy and spending on pandemic preparedness and response, key questions for countries to consider as they develop their own commissions and thematic areas they could focus on, as well as how to link learning at the local and national levels to analysis and recommendations made by international bodies. Country-level reviews must begin as soon as possible to ensure the recommendations that come out of them can guide the effective distribution of resources and funding to better manage the ongoing COVID-19 crisis and prepare for future public health threats. Additional research into COVID-19 commissions is needed to ensure governments and organizations have a wealth of knowledge and best practices to draw on as they set up their own commissions. To that end, the Center for Global Development also plans to release a “starter kit” focused on the more technical aspects of how countries can form COVID-19 commissions.

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