The COVID-19 Pandemic: Diverse Contexts; Different Epidemics—How and Why?

Doi.org/10.1136/bmjgh-2020-003098

31 Pages Posted: 16 Jun 2020 Last revised: 3 Aug 2020

See all articles by Wim Van Damme

Wim Van Damme

Institute of Tropical Medicine

Ritwik Dahake

Independent Researcher

Alexandre Délamou

Gamal Abdel Nasser University

Brecht Ingelbeen

Institute of Tropical Medicine

Edwin Wouters

Department of Sociology and Centre for Population, Family and Health, University of Antwerp, Belgium.

Guido Vanham

University of Antwerp - Department of Biomedical Sciences

Remco van de Pas

Institute of Tropical Medicine

Jean-Paul Dossou

Centre de Recherche en Reproduction Humaine et en Démographie

Por Ir

National Institute of Public Health

Seye Abimbola

The University of Sydney - School of Public Health; University of Sydney - George Institute for Global Health

Stefaan Van der Borght

Institute of Tropical Medicine

Narayanan Devadasan

Health Systems Transformation Platform

Gerald Bloom

Institute of Development Studies

Ian Van Engelgem

European Union - European Commission

Mohamed Ali Ag Ahmed

University Of Sherbrooke

Joël Arthur Kiendrébéogo

Department of Public Health, University Joseph Ki-Zerbo, Health Sciences Training and Research Unit

Kristien Verdonck

Institute of Tropical Medicine

Vincent De Brouwere

Institut de Médecine Tropicale

Kéfilath Bello

Centre de Recherche en Reproduction Humaine et en Démographie

Helmut Kloos

Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of California

Peter Aaby

Bandim Health Project, INDEPTH Network

Andreas Kalk

Bureau GIZ à Kinshasa

Sameh Al-Awlaqi

Center for International Health Protection, Robert Koch Institute

Prashanth N S

Institute of Public Health Bangalore

Jean Jacques Muyembe-Tamfum

Democratic Republic of Congo - Ministry of Health

Placide Mbala

Institut National de Recherche Biomédicale

Steve Ahuka-Mundeke

Institut National de Recherche Biomédicale

Yibeltal Assefa

University of Queensland - School of Public Health

Date Written: June 8, 2020

Abstract

It is very exceptional that a new disease becomes a true pandemic. Since its emergence in Wuhan, China, in late 2019, SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, has spread to nearly all countries of the world in only a few months. However, in different countries, the COVID-19 epidemic takes variable shapes and forms in how it affects communities. Until now the insights gained on COVID-19 have been largely dominated by the COVID-19 epidemics and the lockdowns in China, Europe, and the United States. But this variety of global trajectories is little described, analysed, or understood. In only a few months, an enormous amount of scientific evidence on SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 has been uncovered (knowns). But important knowledge gaps remain (unknowns). An important missing piece of the COVID-19 puzzle can be solved by learning from the variety of ways the COVID-19 epidemic is unfolding across the globe. This paper tries to make sense of this variability—by exploring the important role that context plays in these different COVID-19 epidemics; by comparing COVID-19 epidemics with other respiratory diseases, including other coronaviruses that circulate continuously; and by highlighting the critical unknowns and uncertainties that remain. These unknowns and uncertainties require a deeper understanding of the variable trajectories of COVID-19. Unraveling them will be important for discerning potential future scenarios, such as the first wave in virgin territories still untouched by COVID-19 and for future waves elsewhere.

Note: Funding: No specific funding was provided for this study. The ongoing collaborations between many of the authors are funded by the Belgian Development Cooperation, as part of the ITM-DGD Framework Agreement.

Conflict of Interest: None declared.

Keywords: SARS-CoV-2, COVID-19, Public Health

Suggested Citation

Van Damme, Wim and Dahake, Ritwik and Délamou, Alexandre and Ingelbeen, Brecht and Wouters, Edwin and Vanham, Guido and van de Pas, Remco and Dossou, Jean-Paul and Ir, Por and Abimbola, Seye and Van der Borght, Stefaan and Devadasan, Narayanan and Bloom, Gerald and Van Engelgem, Ian and Ag Ahmed, Mohamed Ali and Kiendrébéogo, Joël Arthur and Verdonck, Kristien and De Brouwere, Vincent and Bello, Kéfilath and Kloos, Helmut and Aaby, Peter and Kalk, Andreas and Al-Awlaqi, Sameh and Nuggehalli Srinivas, Prashanth and Muyembe-Tamfum, Jean Jacques and Mbala, Placide and Ahuka-Mundeke, Steve and Assefa, Yibeltal, The COVID-19 Pandemic: Diverse Contexts; Different Epidemics—How and Why? (June 8, 2020). Doi.org/10.1136/bmjgh-2020-003098, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3622324 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3622324

Wim Van Damme (Contact Author)

Institute of Tropical Medicine ( email )

B-2000 Antwerp
Belgium

Ritwik Dahake

Independent Researcher ( email )

Bengaluru
India

Alexandre Délamou

Gamal Abdel Nasser University

Conakry
Guinea

Brecht Ingelbeen

Institute of Tropical Medicine ( email )

Antwerp
Belgium

Edwin Wouters

Department of Sociology and Centre for Population, Family and Health, University of Antwerp, Belgium. ( email )

Antwerp
Belgium

Guido Vanham

University of Antwerp - Department of Biomedical Sciences ( email )

Prinsstraat 13
Antwerp, Antwerp 2000
Belgium

Remco Van de Pas

Institute of Tropical Medicine ( email )

B-2000 Antwerp
Belgium

Jean-Paul Dossou

Centre de Recherche en Reproduction Humaine et en Démographie ( email )

Cotonou
Benin

Por Ir

National Institute of Public Health ( email )

Lot no 80, Samdech Penn Nouth Blvd (street 289)
Phnom Penh, 12152
Cambodia

Seye Abimbola

The University of Sydney - School of Public Health ( email )

Australia

University of Sydney - George Institute for Global Health ( email )

Level 10, King George V Building
83-117 Missenden Rd
Camperdown, NSW 2050
Australia

Stefaan Van der Borght

Institute of Tropical Medicine ( email )

B-2000 Antwerp
Belgium

Narayanan Devadasan

Health Systems Transformation Platform ( email )

C1, ISID Campus,
4, Institutional Area, Phase II, Vasant Kunj
New Delhi, Delhi 110070
India

Gerald Bloom

Institute of Development Studies ( email )

Brighton
United Kingdom

Ian Van Engelgem

European Union - European Commission ( email )

Rue de la Loi 200
Brussels, B-1049
Belgium

Mohamed Ali Ag Ahmed

University Of Sherbrooke ( email )

2500 bd de l'Universite
Sherbrooke, Québec J1K 2R1
Canada

Joël Arthur Kiendrébéogo

Department of Public Health, University Joseph Ki-Zerbo, Health Sciences Training and Research Unit ( email )

Ouagadougou
Burkina Faso

Kristien Verdonck

Institute of Tropical Medicine ( email )

B-2000 Antwerp
Belgium

Vincent De Brouwere

Institut de Médecine Tropicale ( email )

Nationalestraat, 155
Antwerpen, 2000
Belgium
+3232476286 (Phone)
+3232476258 (Fax)

Kéfilath Bello

Centre de Recherche en Reproduction Humaine et en Démographie ( email )

Cotonou
Benin

Helmut Kloos

Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of California ( email )

San Francisco
United States

Peter Aaby

Bandim Health Project, INDEPTH Network ( email )

Bissau
Guinea-Bissau

Andreas Kalk

Bureau GIZ à Kinshasa ( email )

Kinshasa
Democratic Republic of the Congo

Sameh Al-Awlaqi

Center for International Health Protection, Robert Koch Institute ( email )

Nordufer 20
Berlin
Berlin, DE 13353
Germany

Prashanth Nuggehalli Srinivas

Institute of Public Health Bangalore ( email )

250, 2 C Main, 2 C Cross
Girinagar I Phase
Bangalore, Karnataka 560085
India

Jean Jacques Muyembe-Tamfum

Democratic Republic of Congo - Ministry of Health

Congo, Democratic Republic of the (Zaire)

Placide Mbala

Institut National de Recherche Biomédicale ( email )

Kinshasa
Democratic Republic of the Congo

Steve Ahuka-Mundeke

Institut National de Recherche Biomédicale ( email )

Kinshasa
Democratic Republic of the Congo

Yibeltal Assefa

University of Queensland - School of Public Health ( email )

St Lucia
Brisbane
Australia

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