I have read the WHO’s sitreps on CoViD-19 daily since the end of January 2020, where I was visiting Viet Nam. I now live in Denmark (a Scandinavian country) where the Corona virus has shut down society and many people have tested positive. When I compare the numbers for Scandinavia (Denmark, Norway, Sweden) with a large group of low-incidence Asian countries (Philippines, Singapore, Viet Nam, Cambodia, Mongolia, Laos, Thailand, Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh), then the facts are that:
- The number of reported infected and dead people in the Asian Countries and Scandinavia is roughly the same, with 4,565/7,839 infected and 152/121 dead in the two groups. (source: WHO).
- The population of the Asian countries is 100 times larger than the Scandinavian countries, with 2 billion and 20 million people respectively (source: Wikipedia)
How can this be? Either the numbers are directionally wrong or they are directionally right?
I deliberately didn’t include Korea and Japan. I have focused on the Asian countries, where 1/4 of all humans live today and where the WHO says that people haven’t caught the Corona virus (yet).
If the numbers are wrong
Then the numbers might be systematically under-reported in all of the low-incidence Asian countries. They could also be over-reported in Scandinavia or something else. One of these might be true, but I will assume that the numbers are right.
If the numbers are right
According to some theories of epidemics (and many assumptions on population density etc.), either:
1) The number of number of susceptible people must have been much, much lower in the Asian countries compared to Scandinavia at end of February 2020. In other words, people from the listed Asian countries simply can’t catch the virus.
2) And/or, the infection rate must have been much, much lower in the Asian countries compared to Scandinavia. In other words, the virus simply doesn’t spread effectively in the listed Asian countries.
Again, assuming that the numbers are right. I can think of a few explanations.
For case 1 ("fewer susceptible people in Asian countries"), I have one hypothesis (which you can try to argue against):
- a: The Asian population already had partial immunity to SARS-CoV-2, due to historical outbreaks e.g. of SARS.
For case 2 ("lower infection rate in Asian countries"), I have a handful of hypotheses (which you can try to argue against):
- a: The climate is different in the Asian countries (from Mongolia to Indonesia) and Scandinavia in a way that affects the Corona virus.
- b: The measures against the spread of the virus, such as social distancing, are fundamentally more effective in the low-incidence Asian countries than in Scandinavia. I was in Viet Nam in February 2020 and the level of caution was very high back then compared to Denmark (e.g. face masks everywhere).
Can you refute any of the hypotheses that assume that the numbers are right?