COVID-19: Visualizing regional socioeconomic indicators for Europe

Naqvi, A. ORCID: (2020). COVID-19: Visualizing regional socioeconomic indicators for Europe. IIASA Report. Laxenburg: IIASA

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The COVID-19 pandemic struck the world out of the blue and displayed unprecedented transmission rates. Part of the reason for its rapid worldwide spread, was the nature of the virus itself, its presentation (symptoms were visible well after a person was infected) and the highly complex, interconnected world we live in today. An equally important contributing factor is our, now apparent, collective inability to deal with a rapidly emerging global threat in a coherent and integrated manner across countries and continents. Our existing multilateral systems are simply not yet geared to respond to such an emerging global challenge in an adequate and timely manner. The plethora of national responses have also been shown to be inadequate.

The extent of our inter-connectedness has led us to recognize that we live in a global village, and this pandemic has removed any remaining doubts. However, the underlying global order of pervasive tourism, trade, business, education has the potential to create vulnerabilities while also generating critical sector specific information that could be systematically harnessed in order to allow rapid and effective global and national responses to risks. Undoubtedly this data is being collected in some form. At a more operational level the world is still struggling to bring together the necessary data from across different sectors of society, across scales and a sufficiently integrated manner to fully enable a rapid analysis and a comprehensive disaster risk mitigation response. The looming era of machine learning and artificial intelligence too has the potential to fast-track our capabilities and responsiveness to such epidemics, but presently, we are still struggling to access relevant information and timely data at appropriate scales and resolutions.

Early information from the COVID-19 pandemic suggested a greater vulnerability of older citizens to the virus. Current mortality patterns support the notion that the elderly, especially those with underlying medical conditions, are more vulnerable. However, clearly, all segments of the population are vulnerable. In the absence of an available cure for the virus, key measures deployed to limit transmission include to curb mobility, social distancing, to strengthen the medical infrastructure to improve the palliative treatment for vulnerable patients (ventilators) and protect key medical practitioners (protective clothing and masks). A fully functional coordinated system of international cooperation would help with the effective execution of many of these measures. Given that the pandemic has now reached nearly all countries around the world and is still spreading, countries are responding by shutting borders and are competing for scarce resources - medical, technical, and/or financial. The developing geography of the pandemic illustrates how different countries become more vulnerable at different times during the development of the pandemic - not all countries are necessarily equally vulnerable at the same time. The same principle applies to different parts within a country (Northern Italy, New York). In understanding these differences, mortality rates are probably a more robust indicator, albeit delayed, considering the different modes and extents of COVID-19 testing implemented around the world.

Clearly COVID-19 has caught all of us o_ guard, yet we need to respond to the emerging crisis to the best of our ability. While numerous epidemiological analyses and models are currently informing and assisting global decision makers to respond to the virus, we at IIASA can assist by making available critical socioeconomic and demographic data that may be of use to policymakers and the health community to allocate scarce resources more strategically between countries and even within countries.

This IIASA mapbook is made available to rapidly and urgently disseminate key demographic and population information in a visible form to assist health professionals, disaster response operations, governments and policymakers from across the European Union. This IIASA mapbook publishes and will continue to expand on a list of key indicators that can be used to better understand the socioeconomic and demographic contexts under which the current COVID-19 crisis is unfolding. Accessible data is presently limited to the EU.

Item Type: Monograph (IIASA Report)
Uncontrolled Keywords: COVID-19; pandemic; map
Research Programs: Advanced Systems Analysis (ASA)
Depositing User: Luke Kirwan
Date Deposited: 16 Apr 2020 13:26
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2021 17:32

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