Preprint Article Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

Why Has COVID-19 Spread More Extensively in Europe than Asia?

Version 1 : Received: 8 May 2020 / Approved: 11 May 2020 / Online: 11 May 2020 (13:23:19 CEST)

How to cite: Kenyon, C. Why Has COVID-19 Spread More Extensively in Europe than Asia?. Preprints 2020, 2020050200. Kenyon, C. Why Has COVID-19 Spread More Extensively in Europe than Asia?. Preprints 2020, 2020050200.


It is unclear why European countries have been more severely affected by COVID-19 than East Asian countries. In this ecological study we compared the COVID-19 epidemics (cumulative incidence and mortality rates), host genetic susceptibility and national responses (testing intensity) in all European versus all Western Pacific/East Asian countries reporting cases in the first month of the epidemic. The host-genetic-susceptibility assessment was limited to the frequency of the D-allele of the angiotensin converting enzyme-1 (ACE-1) which has been found to be positively associated with COVID-19 incidence within European countries. Despite earlier epidemics, countries from the Western Pacific reported lower cumulative numbers of COVID-19 cases/100 000 inhabitants than European countries (P=0.0002). The Western Pacific countries also reported fewer cumulative COVID-19 deaths/100 000 (P=0.0024). Whilst there was little difference in the cumulative number of tests conducted/100 000, the percent of COVID-19 tests reported positive was higher in Europe than the Western Pacific (P=0.0076). The frequency of the ACE-1 D-allele was lower in the Western Pacific than European countries (P=0.0007). Our results suggest that a combination of different testing strategies and host genetic susceptibility contribute to difference in severity of the COVID-19 epidemics in the Western Pacific/East Asia and Europe.


SARS-CoV-2; COVID-19 mortality rate; testing intensity; epidemiology; Europe; Asia


Public Health and Healthcare, Health Policy and Services

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