A few days ago, writing on the lack of preparedness of Italy against the Coronavirus, the Italian journalist Mattia Ferraresi wrote that, “I and many other Italians just did not see the need to change our routines for a threat we could not see.” Italy has reported over 1800 deaths, and 25000 cases amid the Coronavirus pandemic and the entire nation is on lockdown at this point.
If there’s any continent the least prepared to deal with Coronavirus, it is definitely Europe. And this is the reason behind the fact that the epicentre of a disease that originated in China is Europe, not Asia. After the newsbreak of Coronavirus and lockdown of Wuhan, most of the government in Asia, and most importantly the people of these countries, started taking pre-emptive measures for safety.
In India, despite one of the lowest number of reported cases, majority of the people on road could be seen with masks on their faces and sanitizers in their pockets. This is not limited to India, most of the Asian countries including Japan, South Korea and Thailand, have one the best recovery ratio; least number of deaths; and very low reported cases, thanks to pre-emptive measures and swift response of the government.
The difference in response by the people and the governments of the both continents could be explained by the history of the continents and behavioral psychology of the people. Europe is proud of its public health infrastructure and the governments have very high sense of self-esteem.
The first response of the European people when they heard of Coronavirus outbreak in China was that it is a third world developing country, and the outbreaks like these are common in that of part of the world. European countries need not to worry given their robust public healthcare system and well organized cities.
After the outbreak, Europe pushed no travel bans; no screening; no masks; no extra hygiene- all activities were going as normal in Europe, as if nothing happened. When few journalists questioned to politicians about the why the government is not acting and why there no lockdown, the mayors and politicians of cities laughed at them.
Deaths are increasing in Italy & Spain faster than they did in China at the same stage of the outbreak. pic.twitter.com/gghQz5rWgD
— Conrad Hackett (@conradhackett) March 16, 2020
Given this lackluster response of European countries, the virus spread in the countries of the continent, and now the European people are facing the worst public health crisis of the generation. Among the top 10 countries with most number of reported cases, six are European, namely- Italy, Spain, Germany, France, Switzerland, United Kingdom; this is despite the fact that Europe has one of the lowest population density.
Timeline of Coronavirus progression from Jan till March. pic.twitter.com/FQFIRgqXr5
— Girish Bharadwaj (@Girishvhp) March 14, 2020
The Asian countries, despite their high population density and lack of robust public health infrastructure, have one of the lowest numbers of reported cases in terms of per capita population and very high recovery rate.
Another reason behind low rate of cases and high recovery rate is young demography of Asian countries. Many scientists and scientific journals have argued that older people are being more affected due to Coronavirus disease, given their low immunity. Italy, the most affected country is Europe, has a median age of 46 years with 60 percent of the people aged above 40 years. Majority of the people dying from the disease are older people. As per a report by science journal, Lancet, the average age of people died due to Coronavirus disease in Italy is 81.
After the outbreak, British economists with a strong colonial hangover like Jim O’Neill, the chair of U.K. think tank Chatham House sighed, “Thank God this didn’t start in somewhere like India, because there’s absolutely no way that the quality of Indian governance could move to react in the way that the Chinese have done.”
However, these people colonial hangover do not realize that this is the movement of Asia. Perhaps, this is nature justice to Europe for colonization of Asia. Today, most of the Asian countries have put a complete ban on the entry of Europeans in their countries. In fact, even the organizations like ISIS have issued a fatwa that their terrorists should avoid travelling to Europe.
A few centuries ago, Europeans do not used to allow Asians to travel in first-class trains, given their white supremacy. Today, brown and yellow people have put a complete ban on Europeans.
On the other hand, many Europeans are dying due Coronavirus, thanks to their lacklustre attitude and old demography. Europe is home to some of the countries with the oldest demography. Monaco, a small country in the continent has the highest median age at 53.1, with male at 51.7 years and female at 54.5 years.
Germany ranks second with a median age of 45.5 years, Slovenia at 44.5 years, Greece at 44.5 years, Austria at 44 years, and Spain at 42.7. In fact, the median age of Europe is at 42.6 years compared to 28 years of India.
As per data from the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, the mortality rate due to Coronavirus is the highest among those above 80 years if age at 14.8 per cent. As evident from the above graph, the mortality rate increases with the increase in age. The mortality rate is lowest, if fact below one per cent in below 1 per cent for the people below 50.
The health organizations have issued an advisory that the people above the age of 60 must be completely quarantined. As most of the people of older age have some other disease like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and therefore, they are being more affected. The death rate among the people who have preexisting condition is also very high.
Europe will not be able to recover from Coronavirus very easily. Last few years have not been very good for the continent, as first the public debt crisis hurt the countries and brought the GDP growth rate to negative, and after that the refugee crisis. Before the continent could recover from the refugee crisis, coronavirus hit it hard. When the continent recovers from Corona, it will be no longer the Europe it used to be. The stature of the continent overall and its most important countries like France, UK, Germany, and Italy will never be same as earlier.