Ardent handshakers they’ve been, the populists. They've been science-deniers, ludicrous optimists, and reckless blamers -- all cultivating denial amid social media misinformation and wildly circulating conspiracy theories.

The worst offenders? Presidents Trump (US), Bolsonaro (Brazil) and Obrador (Mexico). The result? Delays in taking the steps that needed to be taken, like social distancing, which may well have cost lives.

Instead of adopting global, regional, even clear national approaches, the world's populist leaders and demagogues are claiming that the answer to future COVID-19 control is wrapped up in heavy-handed leadership; tight controls on immigration; and defensive, trade-annihilating de-globalisation.