Why Western countries worst affected by C-19 baffles scientists



Scientists and public health experts are conducting research to find out why some South Asian countries - despite their ramshackle health infrastructure and dense populations have witnessed lower coronavirus mortality rates, compared with their western counterparts.


By early May, the world’s richest countries accounted for more than 90 percent of all reported deaths, from COVID-19, according to a paper published in The Lancet medical journal. Adding China, Brazil and Iran to that list takes the number up to 96 percent.


By contrast, many densely populated developing countries, in South Asia and parts of Africa, have fared far better when it comes to the mortality rate from COVID-19, data from Johns Hopkins University (JHU) shows.


In Europe, the observed case fatality ratio (CFR, or the percentage of deaths among confirmed coronavirus patients) has been high, with France reporting a rate of 15.2 percent, the United Kingdom 14.4 percent, Italy 14 percent and Spain 11.9 percent, according to JHU data. In the United States, the CFR is 6 percent, the data shows.


By contrast, in South Asian countries, those rates have been far lower. India has a CFR of 3.3 percent, Pakistan 2.2 percent, Bangladesh 1.5 percent and Sri Lanka 1 percent.


"The rest of the world - historically far more used to being depicted as the reservoir of pestilence and disease that wealthy countries sought to protect themselves from and the recipient of generous amounts of advice and modest amounts of aid from rich governments and foundations - looks on warily as COVID-19 moves into these regions," write Richard Cash and Vikram Patel, public health experts at Harvard University, in The Lancet.


Doctors and scientists say there are a number of possible explanations for the discrepancy in how COVID-19 is affecting populations in different parts of the world, whether due to varying demographics, different levels of exposure to similar viruses, or even incomplete data on mortality in some countries, resulting in faulty conclusions.


In Pakistan, home to 220 million people and rickety health infrastructure that offers just six hospital beds per 10,000 people, the first case of the coronavirus was reported on February 26, a returning traveller from neighbouring Iran.


Since then, the virus has spread rapidly, with at least 42,125 cases reported countrywide as of May 18, making Pakistan the 20th in the world in terms of the total number of cases. It has reported 903 deaths, making it 26th worldwide on that list, with a CFR one-third that of the US, and up to 13 percent lower than some European countries.


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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