This study examines how cultural and political factors affect the spread and the macro-economic consequences of the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) and its associated disease (COVID-19). We argue that political, institutional, and cultural factors can help explain the spread and severity of the virus at the country-level, as well as the gravity of the pandemic’s economic effects. We find that socio-political factors are significant predictors of a country’s resilience to the pandemic. This study highlights the complex and interrelated nature of socio-political country-level characteristics and how they affect a country’s relative success in handling the ongoing epidemic. A better understanding of these relationships should help governments and regulators create better preventative and mitigating measures if or rather when the next pandemic strikes.