Assessing the causes for a relatively lower caseload of Covid-19 in South Asia [post]

Anum Niazi, Shandana Kifayat, Nasir Javed, Muhammad Salar Khan
2020 unpublished
In the wake of the ongoing spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, the number of affected persons has already surpassed 6 million globally. Advanced healthcare systems in North America and Western Europe have registered the highest number of cases. On the contrary, some of the weakest healthcare systems of the world, including those in South Asia, have observed significantly fewer cases of Covid-19. This article assesses the potential causes of a relatively lower caseload and lethality caused by
more » ... ity caused by Covid-19 in South Asia. Some of the key factors which might be creating favorable conditions for the relatively lower and less lethal spread of the virus in South Asia include an inconducive climate, reduced percentage of the elderly population, possible immunity due to existing disease trends, unfavorable blood group distribution, early lockdown restrictions, and lesser inbound and outbound movements as compared to Europe and North America. These observations are subject to discussion because most of the research is still preliminary, and the landscape of the disease is still shifting significantly on a daily basis. Lower incidence of Covid-19 in South Asia might well relate back to inadequate testing facilities and weak reporting protocols. The stigma associated with the illness and misinformation regarding treatment and healthcare administration might further lead to underreporting of the Covid-19 caseload. Various factors such as poverty, high population density, a large informal economy, and poor sanitation make South Asia particularly vulnerable. All these factors, combined with the recent easing of lockdown restrictions in the region, could lead to spikes in rates of Covid-19 infections. Therefore, we suggest the local governments collaborate and share technical and healthcare expertise to devise and implement comprehensive strategies to stop the spread of the disease. South Asia should swiftly mobilize local resources, quickly ramp up capabilities, and thoroughly implement the proposed guidelines. The public should practice prevention and precaution. The national governments (with the help of community elders and scholars) should address stigma related to Covid-19. Finally, the international community must increase its technical assistance to mitigate the threats of the pandemic in populous South Asia.
doi:10.31219/osf.io/sf59y fatcat:cy3udqzwajfddhubwnwpvkj6nu