Countries that responded wisely to the pandemic run the gamut in terms of wealth, size, population, and style of government. What they shared was a swift, coordinated government response. Where that has been lacking, no amount of scientific expertise, technical knowhow, or wealth can prevent disaster, as the United States all too grimly shows. Krithika Varagur spoke to public health officials from six countries around the world. These, edited for length and clarity, are their stories.