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COVID-19 rates fall quicker in richer countries

Study: Rich Nations See COVID-19 Virus Rates Fall Quicker

Research finds countries' economic performance directly related to number of cases

by Anglia Ruskin University
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Richer countries were more likely to see rates of COVID-19 fall faster during the first wave of the pandemic, according to new research published in the journal Frontiers in Public Health.

The study by Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) professors Shahina Pardhan and Nick Drydakis examined economic indicators in 38 European countries, such as gross domestic product (GDP) per capita, life expectancy, and public spending, and the number of new coronavirus cases per million of the population between April 1 and May 31, 2020, using data from Our World in Data based on the seven-day rolling average of new cases for each country.

A significant negative correlation was found between number of cases and GDP per capita across the two months. The study found that the country with the highest GDP per capita in Europe (Luxembourg) experienced the biggest fall in cases (271 per million of the population). The opposite was found for countries with lower GDP per capita, such as Ukraine (fell by one case per million) and Romania (fell by seven cases per million).

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Researchers concluded that countries with higher GDP per capita were able to spend more on test and trace solutions and  public health messaging and had economies that better facilitated home working than poorer nations. The UK recorded a reduction from 3,706 new cases on April 1, 2020 to 1,500 new cases on May 31, 2020, a reduction of 20 cases per million of the population during this time.

"Our study found a strong negative correlation between number of cases and GDP per capita," said Pardhan, the lead author of the study and a professor in ARU's School of Medicine. "This is not only potentially down to the ability of wealthier nations to spend more on health care and prevention, but it is possible that suppressing the spread through lockdowns is more difficult to implement in poorer countries where there are a greater number of people working in sectors where manual labor is needed.

COVID-19 is a global issue and has spread rapidly from country to country. It does not discriminate, and it is in everybody's best interests to ensure that poorer countries are given the assistance they need to fight this virus during this second wave and beyond."

- This press release was originally published on the ARU website. It has been edited for style