COVID-19 morbidity and mortality associated with chronic disorders, healthcare services, and inequity: evidence for a syndemic

Barbosa et al.


To identify factors correlated with the incidence and mortality from COVID-19 and investigate syndemic situations at the global level.


An ecologic study of confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths was performed using information collected from the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control in 2019 and 2020. World Bank indicators and information obtained from Worldometer Coronavirus were used to characterize the countries. Descriptive analyses and correlations between independent variables were performed, followed by multiple linear regression analysis to identify factors correlated with COVID-19 incidence and mortality.


Data were obtained for 185 countries. Mean case incidence was 16 482/1,000 population, whereas mean COVID-19 mortality was 291/1,000 population, with the highest and lowest rates recorded in North America and East Asia and Pacific respectively. A positive correlation was identified between incidence rate and percent population aged 15 to 64 years, urban population, inequality measured by the Gini coefficient, and six out of the seven regions analyzed (except East Asia and Pacific). Mortality rate was negatively correlated with population aged 0 to 14 years and positively correlated with urban population, inequality measured by the Gini coefficient, and all regions analyzed except East Asia and Pacific.


COVID-19 morbidity and mortality were correlated with the burden of chronic diseases, aging population, and low capacity of healthcare services for testing and providing hospital beds, a scenario complicated by social inequality in countries and regions, indicating a syndemic effect.

Article's language
Original research