image of Association of Country-wide Coronavirus Mortality with Demographics, Testing, Lockdowns, and Public Wearing of Masks
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645


We studied sources of variation between countries in per-capita mortality from COVID-19 (caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus). Potential predictors of per-capita coronavirus-related mortality in 200 countries by May 9, 2020 were examined, including age, gender, obesity prevalence, temperature, urbanization, smoking, duration of the outbreak, lockdowns, viral testing, contact-tracing policies, and public mask-wearing norms and policies. Multivariable linear regression analysis was performed. In univariate analysis, the prevalence of smoking, per-capita gross domestic product, urbanization, and colder average country temperature was positively associated with coronavirus-related mortality. In a multivariable analysis of 196 countries, the duration of the outbreak in the country, and the proportion of the population aged 60 years or older were positively associated with per-capita mortality, whereas duration of mask-wearing by the public was negatively associated with mortality (all < 0.001). Obesity and less stringent international travel restrictions were independently associated with mortality in a model which controlled for testing policy. Viral testing policies and levels were not associated with mortality. Internal lockdown was associated with a nonsignificant 2.4% reduction in mortality each week ( = 0.83). The association of contact-tracing policy with mortality was not statistically significant ( = 0.06). In countries with cultural norms or government policies supporting public mask-wearing, per-capita coronavirus mortality increased on average by just 16.2% each week, as compared with 61.9% each week in remaining countries. Societal norms and government policies supporting the wearing of masks by the public, as well as international travel controls, are independently associated with lower per-capita mortality from COVID-19.

[open-access] This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


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  • Received : 13 Aug 2020
  • Accepted : 15 Oct 2020
  • Published online : 26 Oct 2020
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