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Why did it take so long for COVID to spread in the developing world?

  • 15-07-2021 7:35pm
    Registered Users Posts: 5,431 ✭✭✭ bb1234567

    At the beginning it seemed that only western countries were suffering effects of high numbers of dead and overwhelmed hospitals. But now everyday it seems a new developing country is suffering similar impacts on a much worse level than Europe ever suffered. Indonesia, Myanmar, right now seem very worse for wear. Obviously before that most infamously India and Nepal. There were theories of preexisting immunity or demographic protection but obviously this seems unlikely now with the large numbers of dead. And I find it hard to believe it was restrictions related, most of the developing world in Asia had very loose half arsed lockdowns, there's no way that they could have maintained such low rates of infection through those means if extremely harsh lockdownsin Europe even couldn't contain the outbreaks very well. So what could it be? Are there any popular theories?


  • Registered Users Posts: 10,589 ✭✭✭✭ degrassinoel

    Lockdowns. Limited movement once the outbreak spread from Wuhan and people started taking it seriously.

  • Registered Users Posts: 12,274 ✭✭✭✭ y0ssar1an22

    i'd say global movement of people for the most part is concentrated in the western world + lack of testing facilities in other parts (you cant report a positive case unless you can test for it) + lack of transparency in other parts.

    ireland has more official cases than china. i'm skeptical of that

  • Registered Users Posts: 13,665 ✭✭✭✭ whisky_galore

    Maybe your average kid in the developing world doesnt normally take school ski trips to Northern Italy?

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,662 ✭✭✭ Woody79

    Delta variant has r rate of 7-8 whereas Wuhan strain was 2-3.

    Lots of vulnerable people in rich countries less, so in poor countries (Africa has life expectancy of 50), whereas europe over 80.

    Age is biggest indicator of vulnerability to covid.

    Delta better at finding and infecting these vulnerable people in these countries and buckling their health care.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,468 ✭✭✭ joebloggs32

    It most likely spread ar a faster rate, but with limited testing and surveillance the reported case/death rates were well below what they were in reality by comparison to western countries

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,733 ✭✭✭ OMM 0000

    The vast majority of people who get COVID get no symptoms, and very few people die.

    If the virus wasn't being pushed hard by the media, you'd barely know it exists.

    So in poor countries where they have bad medical care, lack of reporting, and a lack of testing, it seemed like business as usual.

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,431 ✭✭✭ bb1234567

    Right..that's what we thought about a year ago. Now in those countries it's evidently not business as usual, as COVID began killing and sickening huge numbers of people there and emergency measures were immediately necessary to mitigate the damage, the question is why it took about a year to reach that point in densely populated regions with few or even no restrictions for a lot of the year, during several different climactic seasons.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,321 ✭✭✭ Bit cynical

    Are you fully vaccinated? If you are and also generally healthy, what is the big worry about the delta variant?

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  • Registered Users Posts: 9,990 ✭✭✭ DaCor

    Well for starters, no vaccine is 100%, so you can still get covid, just the effects are significantly reduced.

    Based on current Irish numbers, about 5% of cases are already fully vaccinated. If delta's progress is not checked, we'll end up with a vaccine resistant variant inside 6-12 months

  • Registered Users Posts: 16,639 ✭✭✭✭ cnocbui

    [quote]The Chinese province of Guangdong has faced a sudden uptick in Covid-19 cases. Authorities have moved to shut down districts and businesses to prevent the virus from spreading rapidly.

    That’s causing massive shipping delays in major Chinese ports, and jacking up already-high shipping costs as waiting times at berth “skyrocketed,” according to analysts and those in the shipping industry. 

    “The disruptions in Shenzhen and Guangzhou are absolutely massive. Alone, they would have an unprecedented supply chain impact,” said Brian Glick, founder and CEO at supply chain integration platform, told CNBC.

    However, combined with the challenges that the global supply chain has faced since this year, shipping is in “absolutely uncharted waters,” said Glick. [/quote]

    Personally, I always assume China are lying outrageously whenever they make a statement about anything. This pre-dates Covid10 by several decades.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,733 ✭✭✭ OMM 0000

    That's not really true though. If you look at the actual numbers, hardly any people who get this virus die (as a percentage of those who contract it). I remember digging through the numbers and the average age of death was a few years older than the average age of natural death. That tells us something.

    What we usually see are stories about hospitals struggling, but that's because the hospitals can handle hardly any people.

    The real issue is obesity. If we didn't have so many obese sick people this virus would have had a much, much, much lower impact.

    But sadly we will learn nothing from this, and we'll continue our upwards trajectory towards everyone becoming obese. We'll also probably double down on our lab work with viruses so another pandemic will come along in ten or twenty years.

  • Registered Users Posts: 11,794 ✭✭✭✭ Richard Hillman

    I would imagine mass testing is an issue. No tests, no Covid.

    It was widely regarded that Covid was floating around Europe well before January-February last year but nobody was testing for it.

  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 59,187 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Wibbs

    Younger populations for a start. If you take Ireland's death toll in those under 55 years of age against tested and confirmed cases, the risk of death is 0.05%. Given than it's guaranteed that the number of those actually infected and recovered is a higher number than tested and confirmed cases, the risk of death in that age group(and even older) drops even further. Yes it is a tragedy for those who lost their lives and their loved ones, but the hard facts remain that this is a tiny risk. By comparison the Spanish flu of 1918 makes Covid 19 look like a sniffle. Back then the median age of death from that pox was more like late 20's than early 80's. Smallpox depending on the strain killed around a third of those infected and left another third in bad health. Cholera if untreated kills about half of those infected.

    So in third world nations with average ages of well under fifty this virus which is of a tiny risk to that demographic might well have been completely missed as a novel pathogen if it had remained in those areas. The west with much higher numbers of the very old and the vulnerable(higher rates of diabetes, heart disease, health compromised people who likely wouldn't have made it to adulthood without modern medicine etc) is going to show more deaths.

    One problem in the west is that we've become used to a) modern medicine fixing many woes especially infectious diseases, through antibiotics, antivirals, vaccinations et al and b) mismanagement of emergency capacity on the back of that, so we don't have the spare capacity in our hospitals if demand gets high for any reason. We had become complacent in the face of newer threats for which modern medicine didn't have quick answers. On the other hand the same modern medicine has already made huge inroads into beating this pox.

    Rejoice in the awareness of feeling stupid, for that’s how you end up learning new things. If you’re not aware you’re stupid, you probably are.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,091 ✭✭✭ 323

    Less testing in some developing countries as Hillman pointed out no doubt contributes. Think obesity as you mentioned plays a huge part, particularly the diet that causes it. Changing, but most of the "developing" world does not eat anyway near the amount of processed crap that's considered normal in the so called developed world, so their immune systems not compromised nearly as much.

    Think one other is, because of limited access to medical care, basic hygiene, soap and water, is much better then the "developed" world. (My teenage daughter's comment 16 months ago at the start of this, "What the F***, people need to be told to wash their hands?") Over the years, a conversation in various African bush bars. Our amazement at, how much work it must take, particularly for the woman, spotless long flowing robes almost touching the mud/dust, mud brick houses, often without running water maintain everything so immaculately clean.

    “Follow the trend lines, not the headlines,”

  • Registered Users Posts: 752 ✭✭✭ JPup

    I remember talking to some Africans last year. At the time they attributed the low number of cases there to low number of tests, genuinely quick reactions from a lot of governments to lockdown before it spread (a lot of African countries are used to public health crises such as Ebola outbreaks etc), and incredibly the median age is apparently 19 years old. So more Africans are aged under 20 than over. Since under 20s rarely get sick with Covid, a huge swathe of Africans were naturally going to be unaffected even if they carried the virus.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,321 ✭✭✭ Bit cynical

    Sure but from an individual point of view, if you are healthy and fully vaccinated your chances are very much reduced that you will catch the virus and secondly and more importantly that you will have a serious illness from it. It basically becomes like a cold or flu and that's if you catch it the chances of which, as you point out, are greatly reduced. Cases themselves in the environment should no longer be a rational worry.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,055 ✭✭✭ Former Former Former

    Yeah. If only the pesky media hadn't reported on people dying on the streets of India, overflowing morgues in Italy, sport stadiums turned into field hospitals in the UK and mass graves in New York, sure we'd all be getting on with our lives grand, hah?

    Damn that media

  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 59,187 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Wibbs

    People die on the streets of India on a daily basis. If you're worth a few bob Indian healthcare can be very good, if you're not it varies from medieval to third world. Oh and bodies washing up on the shores of the Ganges is also a regular thing ling before covid. The morgues overflowed in Italy, because as I pointed out we were caught napping by a novel pathogen we had no clear treatment protocol for and had not enough extra capacity. Oh and the vast majority of those who died in Italy were over 70. Those field hospitals in the UK. Were they needed in the end? Oh wait... Remember the worldwide desperate panic and drive for more respirators? When was the last time you saw them mentioned in the news?

    Rejoice in the awareness of feeling stupid, for that’s how you end up learning new things. If you’re not aware you’re stupid, you probably are.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 5,993 ✭✭✭ growleaves

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  • Registered Users Posts: 6,630 ✭✭✭ Goldengirl

    So many of these countries don't have adequate health systems and certainly test and trace would not be high up on their list of priorities.

    Thinking ....war,famine , poverty,not to mention lack of funding for public health measures and corruption in public office .

    I don't think it is reliable to say that case numbers in this country are x , deaths are y when it is not relatable to measurement in countries in western Europe .

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,993 ✭✭✭ GooglePlus

    I reckon mainly a lack of data and a lot of young populations. I don't doubt that is probably rampant in many developing regions. The main concern for most is probably the destabilisation of fragile structures. Economically, many hang by a thread and the shock might not come for another while yet.

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,942 ✭✭✭ topper75

    It was what the media didn't report on that concerned me most.

    There are many ways to spin a narrative and one of the most artful is to cloak the context.

    Census data for Italy at the outset of 2020 showed it to have a demographic context most unlike or own, or indeed most other countries. At that point in time 1 in every 4 of their citizens were over the age of 65. Yes, you read that correctly, 1 in every 4. Of course this profile didn't pop up overnight. However, at some stage there will be a tipping point. And what better tipping point than a heavy flu-like virus. When the camel's back breaks, what attention is due to that last piece of straw?

    In New York City you have to understand the context that mass burials didn’t begin during 2020. The city has used a place called Hart Island as a public cemetery for over 150 years, burying unclaimed people and those whose loved ones can’t afford private burials (yeah Friends wasn't a documentary). The site is still designated for deceased people with no known next of kin. Despite the hazmat suits in the photos, not every body being buried was a Covid victim.

    The UK field hospitals certainly got the headlines when they opened. After that? Limerick University converted their gym here. Was anybody put in there - I don't know - the Irish media never revisited the topic.

    The western media's hyperfocus on Covid's impact in India was for me particularly odious in the wider context. Why not do a story instead on the 5000 kids under 5 that die down there every day? Bodies in the Ganges - already addressed by Wibbs. The true context of India is that it does not even make the top 100 of nations affected by Covid. You hear protests about 'not recorded' but why engage with that when anything outside outside official figures is not kosher when measuring things such as deaths from vaccines. Were doctors hiding deaths from their own government but emailing them directly to the WHO? Is it only a 'conspiracy theory' if it challenges your prior take? Can you cherry pick official figures? The media certainly does.

    Yeah, without them I think I could indeed 'get on with my life grand'. So serves me right really.