COVID-19- A cross country analysis


The death toll of COVID-19 has reached 2.9 million by April 2021, a little less than 0.04% of the world population. In Wikipedia’s list of the largest known epidemics and pandemics caused by an infectious disease, COVID19 is ranked 8th in terms of its death tolls1. The deadliest known pandemic in history, the Black Death of 1346-1353 in comparison killed between 70-200 million people. Thus, humanity has been able to contain, if not eradicate, nature’s fury by constant progress in scientific knowledge and technology. And, to paraphrase Shakespeare, “therein lies the rub”2. The incidence of death due to COVID19 has been the largest in the most advanced country of the world- that is the USA.  Till January 2021, the USA accounted for around 20% of total recorded death worldwide due to COVID-19.  The top 5 countries, namely the USA, Brazil, India, Mexico, and UK accounted for a little less than 49% of total deaths. The share of these 5 countries in the world population was around 27% and excluding India the other 4 countries had only 9.5% of the world’s population3.  This huge disparity among various countries in terms of the mortality impact of COVID -19 calls for a cross-country analysis of the same.

The objective of the present paper is to identify the distinctive characteristics of the countries recoding 1st wave of COVID-19 deaths of varying intensities. Since country is our unit of analysis, data on various proximate causes of death of a COVID-19 infected person may not be available at that level. However, available micro-level- studies of patients of a single hospital or a local administrative unit -like a county- can be relied upon to identify the possible factors like the presence of certain specific co-morbidities that could determine the fatality rate of the COVID-19 patients.

The paper is organized into 3 main sections. Section I reviews the literature on the characteristics of COVID-19 patients and its impact on their subsequent survival. The parameters that have been used in creating a scoring system to determine the survival probability of COVID-19 patients are also reviewed. It is an accepted fact that higher mortality is expected for COVID-19 patients with chronic lung diseases like asthma. In this respect, the relevance of the so-called ‘hygiene hypothesis” is briefly discussed.  Section II discusses the data and methodology used. Section III presents the results. A concluding section follows.

The paper can be downloaded from the link below: