Cause of death: COVID-19 By Inequality

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No one is free of the virus or its impacts. Affects all of us and all of the direct or indirect manner. However, the uncomfortable question that underlies it is, what affects us equally?

Against what some groups set out at the start of the pandemic around the goodness of a virus not a discriminator that we were asked to deal with it in the same way (confinándonos in our homes and are taking extreme measures of social distancing and personal hygiene), the covid-19 has revealed so incontestable the deep inequality that exists in the world, between and within countries.

In this half a year living with the virus, we already have evidence of the lights and shadows of the efforts at the global, regional, and national for the prevention, containment and mitigation of the virus. We find a great variety of strategies and measures implemented that have given rise to a sort of race to reach the podium of the governments successful – mostly run by women (1) – in the management of the pandemic. However, the second wave that is currently experienced by many countries in the northern hemisphere threatens the formulas above and confirm that you are what makes the difference lies increasingly in the factor of individual behavior. Citizens more responsible, more likely to be successful.

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However, this responsibility of the individual depends on his most certain social conditions, pre-existing order that has the desired effect. The face-less is kind of the pandemic has as much to do with the results of the government response to the virus per it is, but with the inequality of opportunities that individuals have to deal with the pandemic. Recent studies have shown that the social determinants of health, that is to say, the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work, and age, have a considerable impact on the results of the covid-19 (2). Problems such as poverty, the physical environment (for example, the overcrowding, the lack of housing) and race or ethnicity play a fundamental role in the determination of whether certain groups of people will die or survive the virus (3). I would add to this, the factor of gender and access to water as other determinants that are relevant.

The harshest of this pandemic are, therefore, closely linked with the inequalities experienced by the most vulnerable groups of the society, which are typically disenfranchised by the policies (or lack of them) and existing economic models. It's a fact: the virus rages with the most vulnerable groups, exacerbating the inequalities and injustices pre-existing.

The above invites us to reflect on the fact that the covid-19 is not the main factor in the death of thousands of people; they are the conditions of inequality in the pre-existing which put them in a situation of vulnerability exacerbated that will make them more prone to contagion and – given their worse health conditions and greater difficulties in access to basic services - the death. That is to say, they will not die strictly because of the covid-19, but the effect of their inequality.

Soledad Sanchez-Cañamares
A lawyer and International Consultant
An expert on Business and Human Rights


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