COVID Underdogs: Mongolia – The best COVID-19 response in the world

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18th May 2020

Indi Samarajiva


Medium: @indica

Twitter: @indica

Mongolia has had the best COVID-19 response in the world. Not only do they have zero deaths, they have zero local transmissions. Mongolia didn’t flatten the curve or crush the curve — they were just like ‘fuck curves’. In Mongolia, there simply wasn't an epidemic at all.
And no, they didn’t just get lucky.

Starting in January, Mongolia executed a perfect public health response, and they have never let up the pressure since. COVID-19 did not just leave Mongolia alone. Mongolia kicked its ass.

For this all this hard work, however, they get little credit. Nobody’s talking about the ‘Mongolian example’. Instead, we talk about total failures like Germany or SwedenLike I’ve said, success is ZERO, and Mongolia is as zero as you can get.

Just look for yourself. See the actions they took, when they took them, and how effective it was. I think you’ll be as mind-blown as I was. Mongolia’s response was intense, and somehow involved 30,000 sheep.

Wait, Mongolia?

But wait, you’ll say. Mongolia? Mongolia with two people per square kilometer? Remote, isolated Mongolia? Wouldn’t COVID just show up and find no one there?



It’s true that Mongolia is the least densely populated nation on Earth. As a nation, they’re pretty socially distant by default. However, their capital Ulaanbaatar has an urban population of 1.5 million people. That’s quite enough for COVID-19 to snack on.

In fact, Ulaanbaatar (307 people per km²) has a similar density to Bergamo, Italy (400 per)— the epicenter of the outbreak in Italy; one of the worst-hit places in the world. Low density didn’t save Bergamo. On its own, it won’t save anybody.

What about sheer remoteness? Where is Mongolia anyways?


Modern Mongolia is not actually remote. I guess it would take a while by horse, but it’s just a two-hour flight from Beijing. There were daily connections with Wuhan. Ulaanbaatar is connected to China and Russia by rail and road, and there’s constant movement across the borders. If the first wave from China didn’t get them, the second from Russia would.

So it wasn’t remoteness that saved them either.

The Bias

There’s a bias here, which I’m also subject to. We give agency to ‘developed’ countries — “oooh look Angela Merkel is a scientist” — but assume that ‘developing’ nations just got lucky. We say it’s the weather, or population density, or some environmental factor of luck.

Read the full article at Medium