How COVID-19 Took Over the World

Lessons for the Future


Edited by Christine Loh

ISBN : 978-988-8805-65-5

Politics, Government, Public Administration

February 2023

264 pages, 6″ x 9″, 14 b&w figs. and 9 tables

  • HK$280.00

Book Description

The pandemic left disorder and crises in its wake everywhere it struck. Drawing on disciplines including public health, politics, and socioeconomics, this book tracks the spread of COVID-19 to weave a coherent picture that explains how scientists learnt about the virus, how authorities reacted around the world, and how different societies coped. 

Written by a leading team of public health, policy, and economics experts, this volume provides an in-depth analysis of various countries’ responses to the onset of the pandemic, as well as suggestions to increase capacity and capability to fight future pandemics. The first part of the book provides an overview of global governance and international cooperation, economic and social consequences of the outbreak, and breakthroughs in mathematical modelling and COVID-19 vaccines. The second part of the book examines and compares specific countries and regions through the lens of good governance, social contract, and political trust. 

This book is essential for anyone seeking to learn from the impact of COVID-19, particularly professionals and policy-makers, as well as those with a general interest in governance and pandemics.

Chapter 1 by Christine Loh and Judith Mackay discusses the factors at play that leads to the manifestation of the multi-faceted COVID-19 and outlines the subsequent 12 chapters.

Chapter 2 by Judith Mackay discusses the World Health Organization and opens debates on its role and scope.

Chapter 3 by Judith Mackay deals with the negative influence of commercial determinants of health upon government health policies during COVID-19.

Chapter 4 by Benjamin J. Cowling reviews the rapid development and deployment of COVID-19 vaccines and their effectiveness against infection and severe disease.

Chapter 5 by Michael Edesess discusses the power of exponential spread and the mathematics of COVID-19 in ways that are easy-to-read and relatable.

Chapter 6 by Renu Singh explains the theory behind and application of the notion of the ‘social contract’ to public health and healthcare policy, with a specific focus on COVID-19.

Chapter 7 by Michael Edesess and Christine Loh reflects upon the lasting effects of the pandemic on rich, middle, and low-income economies.

Chapter 8 by Christopher S. Tang and ManMohan S. Sodhi identifies the shortage causes and supply chain vulnerabilities of medically necessary items, including PPE and ventilators.

Chapter 9 by Christine Loh offers in-depth analysis of the sharply contrasting approaches taken by China and the U.S.

Chapter 10 by Hualing Fu provides a timely and compelling survey of urban responses. 

Chapter 11 by Richard Cullen summarizes the experience in Hong Kong, with some attention to Taiwan and Singapore.

Chapter 12 by Renu Singh unpacks the application of the social contract to public health and healthcare policy in the European context. 

Chapter 13 by Christine Loh with contributions from other authors provides key general insights while stressing on positive cooperation and collaborations.

Christine Loh is the chief development strategist at Institute for the Environment, the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, and visiting scholar at the Center for Global Management, Anderson School of Management, University of California, Los Angeles, as well as editor of At the Epicentre: Hong Kong and the SARS Outbreak (2004). 

“Loh and colleagues have once again provided a clear, multidimensional set of lessons on the global pandemic that is at once contextualised to Hong Kong. This is an excellent follow-up to a similar volume for the 2003 SARS outbreak—sadly plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose—lest future history repeat given the inevitability of more emerging outbreaks to come.”

—Gabriel Leung, honorary professor and former dean of medicine, the University of Hong Kong

“Future generations may find our generation’s extreme COVID-19 measures bewildering. This enlightening and far-sighted collection demonstrates that some rose above the fray and looked to the future. Expertly edited and co-authored by Christine Loh, this book shows how some in our generation kept their heads while others were losing theirs.”

—Naubahar Sharif, professor, Division of Public Policy, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology