Women-led nations saw 6 times fewer Covid-19 deaths as they prioritized 'public health over economic concerns'
Some countries did a better job handling the Covid-19 pandemic than others and the most successful ones had one factor in common: female leaders. Nations led by women faced six times fewer deaths than those led by men, a new study showed.
Researchers analyzed how 35 countries responded to the coronavirus threat when it began gaining momentum across the world. Those led by women were more successful because they swiftly implemented control measures such as lockdowns, prioritized "public health over economic concerns," and took their people into confidence -- something that other nations like the US or UK failed to achieve. They published their findings in a preprint format, meaning they are yet to be tested for accuracy.
The study comes at a time when President Donald Trump has been criticized for his response to the pandemic. He "took much longer than most world leaders to acknowledge the coronavirus crisis, wasting precious time in managing the crisis and ignoring recommendations from public health experts," the researchers wrote. Nations that acted early to control the spread, on the other hand, brought the virus under control, thereby saving themselves from longer lockdowns. Understanding how countries handled Covid-19 will help clarify which policies are likely to succeed while dealing with a health crisis, they added.
To arrive at these findings, the team gathered data from 35 countries that had implemented lockdowns. They looked at the number of deaths per capita due to Covid-19, the number of days with reported fatalities, peaks in daily mortalities, deaths occurred on the first day of lockdown, and excess mortality. Most of the nations on the list are stable democracies, barring China, which was the first country to suffer a blow.
Of the 35, 10 nations such as Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Greece, Iceland, New Zealand, Norway, and Taiwan had women leaders. The remaining -- Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, China, Croatia, Czechia, Ecuador, France, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, Romania, Russia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UK, USA -- had men in command.
As well as seeing six times fewer deaths, women-led countries reported 1,983 deaths, compared to 13,276 recorded in male-led countries. Female-led governments were successful in flattening the curve more effectively and faster than their male counterparts. They were able to make their curve's slope of daily deaths from Covid-19 four-times less steep.
They also analyzed excess mortality: when the number of deaths overshoots those seen under "normal" conditions. The average per capita was 4.8 in female-led countries, and 21 in male-led nations. "This result is of particular relevance as excess mortality is acknowledged as the fairest way to compare Covid-19 deaths internationally," they said. What is more, societies with women leaders in charge had better social and economic equality, they found.
Taking all of the data together, "results show that countries governed by female leaders experienced much fewer Covid-19 deaths per capita and were more effective and rapid at flattening the epidemic’s curve, with lower peaks in daily death," the researchers said.