What happens when three strongmen deny science, prioritise profits and put their populations at risk? The people of their countries suffer. Today the United States, Brazil and India are global leaders in case counts and daily new numbers of cases, and their respective death tolls continue to soar. The xenophobic and hateful discourses of these leaders have served to polarise their respective countries, weakening the response to the pandemic. One has to only look at their neighbours and other global examples to understand that only the model that puts people above profits, that trusts science and values international collaboration, is capable of confronting this threat to humanity.