This article is the English version of : Didier Houssin, « La coopération sanitaire à l’épreuve du Covid-19 », published in Politique étrangère, Vol. 85, Issue 3, 2020.

Over the past months, the human race has been confronted with a new and dangerous member of the coronavirus family: following the coronavirus SARS-CoV-1, responsible for the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) epidemic that began in China in 2003, and then MERS-CoV, which appeared in Saudi Arabia in 2012, SARS-CoV-2 is responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic that was first identified in China at the end of 2019.

After about six months of transmission of a virus that has a tropism for the human respiratory tract, the toll on June 8, 2020, was almost 7 million identified cases and more than 400,000 deaths, mostly in the World Health Organization (WHO) regions of Europe and the Americas. The pandemic is still ongoing. The trajectory and intensity of the virus’s transmission may still hold surprises. However, it is possible to make a few initial observations on the management of this epidemic. The least one can say is that from the outset it has been unconducive to international cooperation in matters of health.

The epidemic caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which began in China in the final weeks of 2019, did not come as a total surprise. The zoonotic risks linked to dense human populations coming into contact with many species of domestic and wild animals, especially in live animal markets, are well known; the previous coronavirus epidemics have already demonstrated this. The WHO was first informed of clusters of cases of pneumonia of unknown cause in Wuhan, in the Chinese province of Hubei, on December 31, 2020. A new coronavirus was quickly held responsible…

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