The comparative politics of COVID-19: the need to understand government responses
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COVID-19 has created a ramifying public health, economic, and political crisis throughout many countries in the world. While globally the pandemic is at different stages and far from under control in some countries, now is the time for public health researchers and political scientists to start understanding how and why governments responded the way they have, explore how effective these responses appear to be, and what lessons we can draw about effective public health policymaking in preparation of the next wave of COVID-19 or the next infectious disease pandemic. We argue that there will be no way to understand the different responses to COVID-19 and their effects without understanding policy and politics. We propose four key focuses to understand the reasons for COVID-19 responses: social policies to crisis management as well as recovery, regime type (democracy or autocracy), formal political institutions (federalism, presidentialism), and state capacity (control over health care systems and public administration). A research agenda to address the COVID-19 pandemic that takes politics as a serious focus can enable the development of more realistic, sustainable interventions in policies and shape our broader understanding of the politics of public health.