• ProjectCOPE

The World May Be in the Same Storm, But Not Every Country Is in the Same Boat:

Why Project COPE Crosses Borders When Examining COVID-19’s Impact on Healthcare Workers

By: Hannah Metwally

This year has startled the world, as nearly every country has had to grapple with an outbreak of this novel coronavirus. By the end of the first month, the World Health Organization had already declared a “public health emergency of international concern.” Since then, there have been over 20 million cases and 750,000 deaths. COVID-19 does not discriminate based on nationality. No matter where you are from, you have most likely been affected by this pandemic to some extent, but how has this impact varied from continent to continent?

(Caption: the proportion of coronavirus cases in the world as of August 13th; source: CNN)

Continental Variances

The first outbreak of this novel coronavirus began in Asia, with many in Wuhan, China falling ill in December. Between the initial outbreak in Wuhan and today, there have been 5,232,511 cases and 112, 722 deaths in Asia. While China was the first country to be shaken by this pandemic, other countries in this region quickly found themselves in a similar situation. In Europe, there have been 3,147,645 cases and 208,549 deaths. Italy was especially hit hard. At the height of the country’s epidemic, approximately 1,000 Italians had lost their lives to COVID-19 in a singular day. Yet, since this tragic day, Italy has started to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Now, the Americas are currently bearing the brunt of this pandemic. With 11,133,830 cases, almost 50% of these cases are located in the United States. This is one of the countries struggling the most right now, as there have been more cases here than anywhere else in the world. Latin America has also been devastated by this pandemic, especially in Brazil. Africa has experienced far less cases than other larger continents, with the number of COVID-19 cases at 1,075,073 and the number of deaths at 24,284. In Oceania, there has been a total of 24,259 cases and 385 deaths as a result of COVID-19. Approximately 91% of these cases come from Australia.

(Caption: India ordered a three-week lockdown order for its 1.3 billion citizens, and officials pledged to spend billions on medical supplies; source: the New York Times)

(Caption: red balloons released at Copacabana beach as a tribute to the 100,000 Brazilians who died due to COVID-19; source: Al-Jazeera)

(Caption: children run past a mural warning about COVID-19 in Nairobi; source: AAAS)

Shifts of Burden

As you can see from above, the COVID-19 pandemic is constantly evolving. The countries that were hit the hardest at the beginning of the pandemic are now feeling slightly relieved, as their case numbers gradually decline and society slowly transitions back to normal. Yet, for other countries, the effects of the pandemic are expected to worsen in the coming days, weeks, or even months. Additionally, certain regions are being disproportionately impacted as compared to others, even within the same country.

Why has there been a shift of burden? And why are some countries failing to progress in reducing the amount of cases and deaths in their area? What is accounting for these national differences?

Part of the reason lies in the differences in how countries’ governments and citizens have been responding to the pandemic. Although the majority of countries have implemented some sort of protective measures, the variation lies in timing and enforcement. China is one of the countries that acted quickly, declaring a nationwide travel ban in January. Because of this, experts believe

that the country prevented 700,000 Chinese people from contracting COVID-19. In addition to timing, the enforcement of these protective measures is just as important. Some countries used the military to ensure that these measures were being adhered to, and in several countries, such as Italy and France, citizens needed a form to leave their homes during the lockdown. This was not the case for those in the United Kingdom or United States.

Below are a series of maps that illustrate how governments responses have changed over time and how their responses have differed from other countries:

Source: Oxford COVID-19 Government Response Tracker

Project COPE

Because each country varies in its experience with COVID-19, the healthcare worker experience will also vary from country to country. Project COPE wants to take an international view of how this pandemic is affecting healthcare workers because we know that examining just one hospital or region would not accurately reflect the experiences of all healthcare workers. Governmental policies/actions are just one factor that may be influencing how healthcare workers are feeling right now. There are several other factors, such as cultural beliefs and GDP, that may have an affect on healthcare workers’ ability to work during a crisis. We want our study to capture the unique stories of those from all over the world. Healthcare workers from a certain country may have better overall wellness than those in another country, and this could give us insight on what factors could be influencing these differences. Taking an international view allows us to see how countries can learn from one another and allow the world to unite in against this deadly storm, despite being in different boats.

(Caption: a group of healthcare workers prepare at a testing site in Tampa, Fla.; source: The New York Times)


Al-Jazeera. (2020). Coronavirus Cases, Deaths on the Rise in Brazil and Mexico. Retrieved from

BBC. (2020). Coronavirus: Australia Encouraged by Drop in New COVID-19 Cases. Retrieved from

Cohut, M. (2020). COVID-19 Global Impact: How the Coronavirus Is Affecting the World. Medical News Today. Retrieved from

European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. (2020). COVID-19 Siutation Update Worldwide, as of 13 August 2020. Retrieved from

Nadeau, B., & Borghese, L. (2020). Europe’s Biggest Countries Are Seeing COVID Surges, But Not This One. CNN. Retrieved from

Newburger, E. (2020). Florida Now Has More Coronavirus Cases Than New York and California Leads the Nation. CNBC. Retrieved from

Nordling, L. (2020). The Pandemic Appears to Have Spared Africa So Far. Scientists Are Struggling to Explain Why. AAAS. Retrieved from

Pattersson, H., Manley, B., & Hernandez, S. (2020). Tracking Coronavirus’ Global Spread. CNN. Retrieved from

Taylor, D. (2020). A Timeline of the Coronavirus Pandemic. The New York Times. Retrieved from

Thomas Hale, Sam Webster, Anna Petherick, Toby Phillips, and Beatriz Kira (2020). Oxford COVID-19 Government Response Tracker, Blavatnik School of Government. Retrieved from

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