There are many awards given out for poor performances. The Golden Mullet Award goes to the worst video game. The Golden Raspberry Award goes to the worst movie. The Ig Nobel Prize goes to the most questionable scientific achievement. There’s even a Bad Sex in Fiction Award (which is only coveted less than the bad sex in non-fiction award). But like positive competitions, no one ever remembers who came in second place. While America may have had among the worst responses to Covid-19, it’s not at all clear that we’ll take the prize. Which world leader has the worst pandemic record? The competition is fierce. “It’s hard to top the response of Nicaragua’s near-eternal President Daniel Ortega and his wife, who responded to news of a pandemic by calling people into the streets for a festive parade they called ‘Love in the Time of Covid-19’ – a perversely fitting allusion to the work of Gabriel García Márquez, whose novels seamlessly blend fact and hallucination. The reckless move horrified human rights activists and scientists alike. Hard to top it is, but not impossible.” But fear not. American exceptionalism isn’t entirely dead. During the pandemic, we know we took the 2020 Foot in Mouth Award (“given every year to a famous person for a particularly baffling comment”) many times over.

+ Still in the hunt for the title of worst Covid leader: “Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro is facing the biggest crisis of his presidency after the heads of the army, navy and air force all quit and the country recorded its highest daily Covid-19 death toll.”