In the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic, there was initial global solidarity. “We are all in this together” became the common slogan. But as developed countries discovered vaccines, they switched to an “us first” approach. As a result, while wealthy countries have secured over five doses for each citizen and are widely administering booster shots, the vaccination coverage in low-income countries remains as little as 2.5 per cent of the population. Many of its citizens are suffering, meanwhile, any day now, the U.S. may begin rolling out boosters to all vaccinated Americans over 18 years old. Unless global leaders exhibit a collective empathy, our global recovery will be slow and inequitable. In healthcare, empathy is defined as the ability to understand the personal experience of individuals. Bonding with patients is an important communication skill for a health professional, one that includes three dimensions: the emotional, cognitive, and behavioral. Historically, collective empathy has laid the foundations on ways the global community addresses common threats. For example, in the aftermath of the Second World War, the global community decided to create the United Nations and important documents to guide a global response. These documents include the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Genocide Convention, the four Geneva Conventions of 1949, and their Additional Protocols, as well as concepts such as responsibility to protect (R2P). Such global actions symbolize a collective empathy, which redefined important precautions that preserved our humanity throughout civil wars and political instability of the 20th century and beyond. Pandemics and natural disasters have unveiled the need for global resource coordination mechanisms to better and remain strong and resilient. However, the slow response reflects a collective empathy gap; hence, persistent failure to accelerate health systems recovery. For example, while rich countries have fully vaccinated 70 per cent of their population against Covid-19, only five countries will be able to reach 40 per cent by the end of year 2021 on the African continent. In a recent evaluation by the World Health Organization, over 50 per cent of the assessed countries reported a profound disruption of essential health services. Optimizing empathy: How do we get there? Empathy is defined as the ability to vicariously experience and understand how other people feel. It is an essential driver of inter-personal connection and global solidarity. While social sciences provide a clear definition, it is important to understand strategies to integrate empathy into local and global programming for pandemic and humanitarian responses. Three key strategies include: 1) amplifying the voices of those most in need; 2) Adaptive response and messaging; and 3) dynamic outreach. Amplifying the voices of those most in need As pandemic and humanitarian crises escalate, there is a tendency to listen to those who appear on big screens and ignore individuals and communities with limited or no access to formal platforms. Such silence tends to be taken as a lack of point. A study published in Lancet reported that the Covid-19 pandemic alone led to an additional 53·2 million cases of major depression and 76·2 million cases of anxiety disorder globally. Planning for intentional interventions to explore the needs of these millions of people should be a priority. Globally, attention should be paid to impoverished countries where over 150 million are pushed into extreme poverty. The World health organizations reported that 40 per cent of 135 countries have limited access to health service delivery platforms. Such data points should be loud enough to instigate a global empathy. Adaptive response and messaging Empathy should drive what we convey as a message and response, as well as how we communicate and deliver our interventions. Covid-19 and past pandemics are associated with an increased level of misinformation and inappropriate responses. Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides guidance on how to address misinformation, there has been a limited adaptation of messages to individuals. For example, while the majority of people in big cities rely on social media, schools and churches remain the most reliable sources of information. Empathetic, genuine and respectful responses should be adapted to individuals and country context. For example, to amplify the voices of community leaders from various backgrounds, Aspen Global Innovators Group launched Communities First Global Collaborative. Similarly, the center for global health in Peru collaborated with the University of Global Health equity and Partners in Health to host webinars gathering thousands of participants to learn about equity-approach to pandemic preparedness and response. Dynamic outreach Dynamic outreach involves taking an action to change the status quo. It is what the global community needs. Not reaching this level qualifies individuals and communities as bystanders. When an Ebola outbreak emerged in West Africa, the World Health Organization delayed declaring Ebola as an outbreak. This reluctance was followed by a slow response from the international community. Such a passive response cost thousands of lives in West Africa. A dynamic response should include whatever it takes to reach the most vulnerable. For example, early in the pandemic, my organization Partners In Health reached out to the Governor of Massachusetts to express ways they could share their global experience in pandemic response. From this outreach, the state became the first one to initiate a collaborative that carries out a human centered contact tracing in the United States. To be sure, efforts have been invested in local and global response to pandemics and humanitarian crises. With contributions from rich countries and philanthropies, the Global Fund approved more than $62 billion to support over 120 countries to end HIV, TB, and malaria, which remain the largest global pandemics of the century. On November 5, 2021, Pfizer announced a discovery of an antiviral pill with potential to reduce risk of hospitalization or death by 89 per cent and pledged that poor countries will have options to afford this cure. While these are great promises yet to be realized, they do reflect positive intentions and commitment to collective empathy, which is critical for us to recover and be ready for future pandemics. The author is the deputy chief medical officer at Partners In Health, assistant professor of global health at University of Global Health Equity, Founder of Move Up Global, Lecturer at Harvard University and Senior New Voices Fellow at The Aspen Institute.