COVID-19: A Global Leadership Challenge

By Professor M.S. Rao, Ph.D.

“During bad circumstances, which is the human inheritance, you must decide not to be reduced. You have your humanity, and you must not allow anything to reduce that. We are obliged to know we are global citizens. Disasters remind us we are world citizens, whether we like it or not.” —Maya Angelou

COVID-19 is growing exponentially with 512,701 confirmed cases, 23,495 confirmed deaths across 202 countries, areas or territories globally. The silver lining over the dark COVID-19 is that it has connected all humans across the world irrespective of their communities, nations, and geographies and brought them into one global platform. There is an increased emphasis on humanity than ever before. Kudos to COVID-19!

According to the World Health Organization[1] (WHO) “Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a new virus. The disease causes respiratory illness (like the flu) with symptoms such as a cough, fever, and in more severe cases, difficulty breathing. You can protect yourself by washing your hands frequently, avoiding touching your face, and avoiding close contact (1 meter or 3 feet) with people who are unwell. It spreads primarily through contact with an infected person when they cough or sneeze. It also spreads when a person touches a surface or object that has the virus on it, then touches their eyes, nose, or mouth.”

The COVID-19 is growing exponentially in Europe, North America, the Middle East because they failed to check it promptly. The fatality rate in Italy and Spain is high due to a combination of factors. One of the main factors in Italy is that it’s the second-oldest country in the world after Japan. Research shows that heat might slow the spread of the virus. However, infectious disease experts assert that virus’ spread may slow but it cannot be countered. An analysis[2] by scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology posted online on Mar. 19, found that the transmission of coronavirus had most frequently occurred in regions with colder annual average temperatures, between about 37° and 63° F. The total number of cases in countries with an average temperature above about 64° F is less than 6%, according to the study.


Suggestions to Counter COVID-19

COVID-19 is one of the most serious diseases globally. It is dangerous for everyone, especially elderly individuals and children below ten years of age. So, be serious and take adequate precautions promptly to prevent this pandemic. Currently, there is no vaccine or drug to cure it. Although research is happening at breakneck speed it appears that there are no drugs that can kill the virus or vaccines that can protect against it soon. It is a big challenge for humans. The best way is to prevent it through social distancing. Here are some suggestions to counter it. Wash your hands frequently. Keep space between yourself and others. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Practice respiratory hygiene. Remember to wash your hands if you blow your nose, cough or sneeze; use public transportation; handle money, animals or garbage; visit markets or places of worship; care for a sick person; and use the toilet or change babies’ diapers. If you are sick, avoid contact with others. Be positive. Take adequate rest during work or between the shifts. Eat sufficient and healthy food. Engage in physical activities. Exercise at home. If you have symptoms of common cold or flu, meet your doctor for medication. The best way is to isolate yourself from others. Have a short-term quarantine. Travel only when necessary. Avoid crowded places. Understand the challenge and cooperate with your local communities and government bodies. If you are infected by the virus, isolate yourself, take bed-rest at home, take plenty of fluids and paracetamol. If it is extreme, get it treated at the hospital. Wear a face mask to prevent spreading the virus to others and distance yourself from others through loneliness. Loneliness is a double-edged sword with merits and demerits. The merits include learning, unlearning, relearning, reflecting, improving and growing. The demerits include depression and anxiety. It all depends on how you take it. To combat loneliness during this pandemic, exercise every day, meditate, do yoga, pursue your neglected hobbies, and share your knowledge with the world freely on social media platforms.

Dr. Bruce Aylward[3], the senior adviser to the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), is one of the world’s top officials in charge of fighting the coronavirus pandemic. He says, “If we do the testing of every single case, rapid isolation of the cases, you should be able to keep cases down low. If you simply rely on the big shut down measures without finding every case, then every time you take the brakes off, it could come back in waves.” Researchers are working on new vaccine technologies. Reports unfold that the first human volunteers were injected with an experimental jab in Seattle.


COVID-19―A Global Leadership Challenge

“There are no great people in this world, only great challenges which ordinary people rise to meet.” —William Frederick Halsey, Jr.

Coronavirus is a challenge for humankind currently. It appears like an alien attacking the earth with vengeance. You can easily fight against a visible enemy, but it is tough to fight against an invisible enemy. All humans must unite to fight against this invisible enemy. The fear of COVID-19 is worse than the real COVID-19. So, let us overcome the fear by equipping with authentic information and acting responsibly to counter it.

Leadership is about having short-term and long-term strategies. Currently, there is an urgent need to have a short-term strategy to check this pandemic. The long-term strategy is to prepare plans ready to combat this kind of pandemics in the future. World War I and World War II were confined to a few nations. However, COVID-19 looks like World War III spreading across the world. India has extended its assistance to China at this hour of crisis despite having several long-pending border issues. China has steadily come out of this challenge currently. To end this outbreak[4], for good, we’ll need antiviral treatments or a vaccine. Those are currently being produced and at record speeds. Researchers are working on new vaccine technologies — like mRNA vaccines that don’t use viruses at all in their production process — as well as cutting-edge therapeutic antibodies.

COVID-19 is nature’s way of reminding us that we are all equal irrespective of rank and position. It taught lessons to the world that no one is geographically immune and this virus is more dangerous than the weapon. Let us wage a World War III medically to protect entire humankind. Health researchers must invent a vaccine to check this virus quickly. Humans are blessed with creativity and are capable of exploring solutions for the problems. Medical researchers and practitioners must collaborate to explore innovative solutions to combat it at this hour of crisis. There must be preparedness on public health with level-headed policies to counter this invisible enemy apart from protecting the healthcare workers and improving the diagnosis and treatment of those who get ill. An integrated effort from all stakeholders including people, health professionals, researchers, government, global organizations, local bodies, and nonprofits is essential to combat this pandemic.

Learning from the experience of China, it may take a maximum of three months to stop coronavirus, if adequate precautions are taken immediately and earnestly. The nations must lockdown immediately, test the suspects, isolate the confirmed cases effectively and quarantine them successfully. It is the general population that stops coronavirus. Hence, they must understand the gravity of the situation and cooperate with all stakeholders to save humankind. At the end of this war, humanity will triumph the virus. It all depends on how fast humans act swiftly and effectively.


Urgent Need for a Massive Action Globally

“When the crowded Vietnamese refugee boats met with storms or pirates, if everyone panicked all would be lost. But if even one person on the boat remained calm and centered, it was enough. It showed the way for everyone to survive.” —Thich Nhat Hanh

Most countries including India have announced lockdowns to stop the virus. The mere lockdown is not enough. The governments must find, isolate, test, and treat the infected people immediately. It is time to stop the spread of this virus and save lives globally. It is the time for solidarity in the face of this threat to all of humanity. The business leaders must ensure that supply chains are working and bottlenecks are overcome. The new Global Humanitarian Response Plan[5] set a six-point action plan for how to prepare and respond to COVID-19 pandemic: First, the public must be effectively prepared for the critical measures that are needed to help suppress the spread and protect vulnerable groups, like the elderly and those with underlying health conditions. Second, ramp up surveillance and lab testing so that those with the virus can be identified quickly and isolated safely – helping to break the chains of transmission. Third, prioritize treatment for those at the highest risk of severe illness. Fourth, slow, suppress and stop transmission to reduce the burden on health care facilities. This means safe hand washing; testing, isolating cases, and contact tracing, encouraging community-level physical distancing, and the suspension of mass gatherings and international travel. Fifth, we’re building the ship as we sail and we must continue to share learnings and innovations so that we can improve surveillance, prevention, and treatment. And finally, we need to protect the health and humanitarian supply chain so that our frontline workers are protected and able to travel freely as they give lifesaving care.



“How many disasters do we need to unite humanity.” ―Loesje

World Health Organization (WHO) is playing a proactive role to check this pandemic by informing and educating people across the world. We must rise to this challenge and offer assistance as much as we can to alleviate human suffering. We must empathize with others. We must donate as much as we can in whatever means possible. Those who don’t have money must invest their precious time by participating actively in nonprofits at this hour of crisis. To conclude, create awareness about COVID-19 with updated authentic information, debunk myths, communicate with the public regularly, and coordinate with stakeholders to combat this pandemic to protect humankind.

“I hope that people will finally come to realize that there is only one ‘race’ – the human race – and that we are all members of it.” ―Margaret Atwood

About the Author

Professor M.S. Rao, Ph.D. is the Father of “Soft Leadership” and Founder of MSR Leadership Consultants, India. He is an International Leadership Guru with thirty-nine years of experience and the author of forty-eight books including the award-winning See the Light in You’ URL: He is a C-Suite advisor and a sought-after keynote speaker globally. He brings a strategic eye and long-range vision given his multifaceted professional experience including military, teaching, training, research, consultancy, and philosophy. He is passionate about serving and making a difference in the lives of others. He trains a new generation of leaders through leadership education and publications. His vision is to build one million students as global leaders by 2030 URL: He can be reached at










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