Covid-19 Part 21:
Italy and Spain were among the worst hit countries of 2020

Italy and Spain ranked at 5 and 9 respectively

1. Deaths per million of population

In Figure 1. below I compared the deaths per million of the population for a selection of countries. Ideally I would like to compare it for a much larger number of countries, but believe it or not I do have other things to do in life! For this reason I selected nine countries, most of which were commonly talked about in the media, and a couple which were lesser known with regards to the virus outbreak. 

Figure 1 and Table 1. Figure 1. shows a graph comparing the Covid-19 deaths per million of the population of selected countries in 2020. Table 1. shows the exact numbers this was calculated from.

In the official figures for 2020 which included every country in the world, Italy came 5th and the UK 9th for total deaths per million of the population. USA were 11th, Spain 14th, France 18th, Mexico 20th, Brazil 24th, Sweden 25th, Germany 46th, and Taiwan 198th.

2. Is obesity linked to severity of outbreak? 

High obesity rates across parts of the western world have been suggested as a possible factor in the severity of the coronavirus outbreak. Figure 1. below shows a graph of deaths per million of the population of selected countries plotted against the percentage of each of those countries that are obese. If there was a strong link, we would expect to see a decrease in deaths per million population with a decrease in a country’s obesity rate.

Figure 1. suggests that the relationship between obesity rate and covid-19 severity would need to be investigated in more detail. There will also be many other contributing factors, which makes it hard to point the finger at just one facet of society in these countries. Contributing factors include an older population, vitamin D levels and proximity of living environments or temperature. Strangely, vitamin D deficiency in Italy has been touted as another contributing factor in its plight. 

Figure 2 and Table 2. Figure 2 shows Covid-19 deaths per million of the population of selected countries on the same chart as the percentage of each population that is obese (obesity rates). Table 2 shows the figures used to obtain Figure 2. 

Final Comments

I used deaths per million of the population because it allows comparisons between countries with different population sizes to be drawn. However there are some limitations to this method. Firstly, it is unknown how far the virus had spread in each of these countries; if a greater proportion of a country’s citizens were infected then it is more likely that more fatalities would happen. If I were able to access the data regarding the total number of infections, I would calculate an ‘infection fatality rate’ for each country. Unfortunately we have to rely on estimates and numbers of people who have been tested as this data is not available. This is very unreliable because there is a large amount of people who would have displayed mild or no symptoms when contracting the virus. 

Despite Italy and Spain employing extremely strict lockdowns and restrictions, they both were among the top ten hardest hit countries in the world in 2020. Sweden, on the other hand, was 25th. This is despite them deciding not to copy other countries and impose strict national lockdowns and restrictions on their population. This points towards a point which has been made by many studies, that lockdowns may not actually be an effective tool at stopping the virus. The most recent example of this can be found here. It is for this reason that we must always question conventionally accepted ‘truths’ in order to truly do what is right. 

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