With the world\u0026#039;s death toll from Covid-19 above one million and confirmed cases surpassing 36 million, a pair of advocacy groups on Thursday released an analysis illustrating how governments\u0026#039; failures to implement policies that reduce inequality left countries \u0022woefully unprepared\u0022 for the coronavirus pandemic.The Commitment to Reducing Inequality Index, updated annually by Oxfam International and Development Finance International (DFI), ranks 158 governments based on three core pillars: spending on public services (meaning health, education, and social protection), progressive taxation policies, and workers\u0026#039; rights.The new data and an accompanying report reveal that before the pandemic, only one is six countries were spending the recommended 15% of their budgets on health.\u0022In 103 countries, at least one in three of the workforce had no labor protection such as sick pay,\u0022 the groups found. \u0022Only 53 countries had social protection systems against unemployment and sickness, and they covered only 22% of the global workforce.\u0022NEW global #InequalityIndex shows a catastrophic failure to tackle inequality left majority of world’s countries woefully unprepared for #COVID19.Norway tops index, US flails at 26, South Sudan ranks lasthttps://t.co/VU5cB3Xtlq pic.twitter.com/fsmT5M4sz4— Oxfam International (@Oxfam) October 7, 2020\u0022Governments\u0026#039; catastrophic failure to tackle inequality meant the majority of the world\u0026#039;s countries were critically ill-equipped to weather the pandemic,\u0022 declared Oxfam interim executive director Chema Vera.\u0022No country on earth was trying hard enough to reduce inequality and ordinary people are bearing the brunt of this crisis as a result,\u0022 Vera added. \u0022Millions of people have been pushed into poverty and hunger and there have been countless unnecessary deaths.\u0022The bottom 10 countries, which the index classifies as \u0022least committed\u0022 to reducing inequality, were Haiti, Guinea-Bissau, Central African Republic, Oman, Vanuatu, Liberia, Chad, Bahrain, Nigeria, and South Sudan, which ranked last.The United States—ranked 26th overall—came in last among G7 countries and trailed 17 low-income nations such as Sierra Leone and Liberia on labor, \u0022due to anti-union policies and a very low minimum wage,\u0022 Max Lawson, Oxfam\u0026#039;s head of inequality policy, and DFI director Matthew Martin wrote in a blog post Thursday.\u0022Extreme inequality is not inevitable, and you don\u0026#039;t have to be a wealthy country to do something about it,\u0022 Martin said in a statement. \u0022We know that policies such as free public healthcare, safety nets for people who can\u0026#039;t work, decent wages and a fair tax system, have been proven to fight inequality.\u0022Inequality is a political choice.The latest #InequalityIndex shows who\u0026#039;s been least/most prepared to fight COVID-19.Is your country is doing enough to #FightInequality and protect \u0026amp; support its citizens?https://t.co/A5CzonHsWF pic.twitter.com/E0WU3vBCfH— Oxfam International (@Oxfam) October 8, 2020\u0022Failure to implement them is a political choice—one that Covid-19 has exposed with catastrophic economic and human costs,\u0022 Martin added. \u0022Governments must learn the lessons of this pandemic and seize this opportunity to build fairer, more resilient societies and a better tomorrow for us all.\u0022Norway topped the index, scoring first in labor, 14th in public services, and 21st in taxation. The other countries in the top 10 from the combined scores of the three pillars were Denmark, Germany, Belgium, Finland, Canada, France, New Zealand, Austria, and Sweden.A statement from Oxfam pointed out that \u0022many countries near the top of the index, such as Germany, Denmark, Norway, and the U.K., have been back-tracking on policies that reduce inequality like progressive taxation for decades.\u0022Lawson and Martin highlighted some progress that countries have made during the pandemic, noting that \u0022South Korea boosted the minimum wage, Botswana, Costa Rica, and Thailand increased health spending, and New Zealand launched a \u0026#039;well-being\u0026#039; budget to tackle issues like child poverty and inequality.\u0022The pair served as the main authors of the new report, entitled Fighting Inequality in the Time of Covid-19 (pdf), detailing their findings and recommendations for how governments, international institutions, and other stakeholders can collaboratively tackle inequality.At the heart of the 2020 #InequalityIndex is a call to arms: COVID-19 hit a world woefully unprepared to fight it, because countries had failed to choose policies to protect the poorest \u0026amp; #FightInequalityThis is a wake-up call for govts everywhere https://t.co/QIRyU8e4U2 pic.twitter.com/CzFziCn9x8— Oxfam International (@Oxfam) October 8, 2020The report urges governments to \u0022dramatically improve their efforts on progressive spending, taxation, and workers\u0026#039; pay and protection\u0022 and various actors to \u0022work together to radically and rapidly improve data on inequality and related policies, and to accurately and regularly monitor progress in reducing inequality.\u0022\u0022The coronavirus crisis has exposed the scale of inequality across the world and is likely to leave most countries even more unequal,\u0022 the report says. \u0022The need for all governments to rapidly commit to reducing inequality has never been more urgent.\u0022The index and report were released a day after the World Bank warned that the public health crisis could push up to 150 million new people into extreme poverty by next year—a finding that came amid the revelation that the combined wealth of the world\u0026#039;s billionaires hit a record $10.2 trillion during the pandemic.