The health, economic and political impact of COVID-19 has been significant across SouthEast Asia, but the virus has not spread as rapidly here as in other parts of the world. There is much to learn from the response to date of countries in the subregion as governments have acted swiftly and despite limited fiscal space to contain the pandemic and avoid its worst effects.
Nonetheless, as in many other parts of the world, the pandemic has inflicted real suffering, with a disproportionate impact on the most vulnerable, and it has highlighted prevailing inequalities, concerns over governance, and the unsustainability of the current development pathway. It has exacerbated existing risks and revealed new challenges, including to
peace and security, as well as human rights. This policy brief examines how the eleven countries of South-East Asia are coping with the immediate impacts of COVID-19, focusing on the subregion’s socio-economic
response and providing four sets of recommendations for a recovery that leads to a more sustainable, resilient, and inclusive future.