One puzzling question that arises in connection with the spread of the virus SARS-CoV2 is why there are so large variations in its incidence (the infection rate) and its lethal consequences (the death-toll) across countries and across regions within countries. At this stage at least, nobody is able to bring forward a general hypothesis that would satisfactorily answer such a thorny question even if attention is focused on a limited geographical area, such as Europe, Asia, North or South America, Africa or the Middle East. The difficulty comes from the fact that there are many confounding factors at play, and they involve variations in geographical situations, biological determinants, public health policies, economic circumstances, and social or cultural characteristics. In this short essay, attention will therefore be focused on Europe and our specific contribution will more particularly consist of highlighting the role of some neglected factors, socio-cultural factors in particular, without pretending that they play a dominant role, let alone an exclusive role.
Authors: Jean-Philippe Platteau, Vincenzo Verardi