What is the role of the military in the COVID-19 response?

Cross-Country Analysis


What is the role of the military in the COVID-19 response?

In every country the military has a range of specialist resources that can be brought to bear in crises as well as a distinctive culture and legal status.

In the COVID-19 crisis, almost every country has brought the military to bear in some capacity (and in the ones for which we have no reports of military activity that is not necessarily evidence of its absence). 

Our findings in the Table below show that, the military helped in various ways. It focused mostly on the following tasks: ensure sufficient physical infrastructure (set up military field hospitals & provide medical equipment such as ventilators and ICU beds); ensure sufficient workforce capacity (by sending military physicians to civil hospitals); and isolation and quarantine.

The areas in which the military was the least involved are, perhaps unsurprisingly, health communication, planning services, health finances, and governance. In other words, governments used their militaries as a source of supplementary logistical, infrastructural, and medical capacity and as a source of infrastructure and in some cases policing duties for isolation and quarantine, but did not broaden its role. 

Sarah Rozenblum, Scott L. Greer, Matthias Wismar, Holly Jarman