Human solidarity is the best way to counter the opportunists seeking to use the crisis to further personal or geopolitical agendas. This is a virus that threatens the long-term interests and security of people everywhere, so it is not a challenge to leave for others to deal with alone. It is disappointing that existing mechanisms such as the UN Security Council have not risen to meet the challenge, but this only means that others must rise in their place.

The Covid-19 pandemic poses an unprecedented challenge thanks to the connectivity of the modern world, yet with the usual leaders missing amid a retreat behind borders, it is incumbent on countries such as Australia to help spur a global response. When Prime Minister Scott Morrison declared that “if you have a job, that’s an essential job”, many laughed. But he is not wrong. Morrison was talking about the domestic economy, but internationally, Australia has a job, too, and it is an essential one. To offer leadership, not for glory, but to empower and unite with those countries that are also stepping forward. If the G20 is the vehicle of choice, Australia should ensure that each of those countries that have led in this fight are represented there. This should include Taiwan and Singapore: their hard-won expertise is needed.

The fight against coronavirus will not be a short one. At times countries will do well, while others will not, and each will be in need of help at some times more than in other moments. Those hurting least must take the chance to help those hurting most. In a pandemic, helping your neighbour is helping yourself, because the best way to stay safe from a virus is to not be surrounded by it.