Is Coronavirus a Disease of Whites?

December 13, 2021


Though the world has seen many epidemics, it is now concerned with minimising the impact of Corona virus disease (Covid) which started in China in December 2019. As we are completing two years, it is essential to understand the intricacies of the disease. The real criterion of the disease is not the total number of cases and deaths in a country but the number of cases and deaths per million population. According to this criterion, it is found more in Europe and America than in Asia and Africa. When we analyse the history of pandemics we find that Europe and America has seen more pandemics than Asia and Africa. In spite of the good health standards in Europe and America Coronavirus is more prevalent in these countries. Further, as the cases of Covid-19 increase in Europe and USA and the spread of Omicron are looming large, it is pertinent to ask the question: Is Coronavirus a disease of the Whites? The paper tries to answer this question and tries to give reasons for this.

Major Epidemics in the World

Intermittent outbreaks of infectious diseases have had profound and lasting effects on societies throughout history. Communicable diseases existed during humankind’s hunter-gatherer days, but the shift to agrarian life 10,000 years ago created communities that made epidemics more possible. The more civilized humans became, building cities and forging trade routes to connect with other cities, and waging wars with them, the more likely pandemics emerged. Experts warn a global pandemic will halt humanity as we know it in the next 20 to 30 years. Past epidemics may offer some insight into what the future holds. Here’s a look back at some of them.

Though the first recorded epidemic took place in China in 3000 BC where an entire village was wiped out severe epidemic in the form of plague took place in Athens in 430 B.C. which lasted for five years the death toll was as high as 100,000 people. The Antonine Plague, which may have been smallpox, started in the year 165 A.D. in the Roman Empire and killed over 5 million people. With the plague of Cyprian (251-271A.D.), people thought that the end of the world had come. This plague was so severe that it was estimated to have killed 5,000 people a day in Rome alone. The Plague of Justinian, which began in 541 and continued on and off for nearly 200 years, killed 50 million people in the Middle East, Asia and the Mediterranean basin, according to some estimates.

What’s known as the Great Plague of London actually started in China in 1334 and spread along trade routes, wiping out entire towns. Florence, Italy, lost a third of its 90,000 residents in the first six months. Overall, Europe lost 25 million people. Another terrible pandemic was Black Death which lasted for eight long years (1346-1353) in Europe, Asia and North Africa. 75 to 200 million people perished due to this plague. In fact, it wiped out over half of Europe's population. As a result, the course of Europe's history was changed. With so many dead, labour became harder to find, bringing about better pay for workers and the end of Europe's system of serfdom.

In 1519, there were approximately 25 million people living in what is now called Mexico when Hernando Cortes arrived in 1519. A smallpox epidemic killed between 5 and 8 million of the native population in the following two years. Another epidemic, Cocoliztli epidemic killed 15 million inhabitants of Mexico and Central America between 1545 and 1548. In the 16th century, there were many American plagues which are a cluster of Eurasian diseases brought to the Americas by European explorers. As a result, around 90 percent of the indigenous population in the Western Hemisphere was killed. Smallpox reached Massachusetts in 1633, brought by settlers from France, Great Britain and the Netherlands. Historians estimate that some 20 million may have died after the Europeans landed.

The Great Plague of London started in 1665 caused a mass exodus from London. By the time the plague ended in 1666, about 100,000 people, including 15 percent of the population of London, had died. In the Great Plague of Marseille (a port city in southern France) which started in 1720 and lasted for three years as many as 100,000 people died. In the Russian plague of 1770-72 the terror of quarantined citizens erupted into violence. Riots spread through the city and culminated in the murder of Archbishop Ambrosius, who was encouraging crowds not to gather for worship. By the time the plague ended, as many as 100,000 people may have died. Yet, restoration of law and order was a big problem.

Philadelphia (USA) was struck with a yellow fever epidemic in 1793 that killed a 10th of the city’s 45,000-person population. The Modern Plague began in the 1860s and killed more than 12 million people in China, India and Hong Kong. The Flu pandemic which started in Russia in 1889 killed around a million people around the globe.

The largest plague outbreak in the 20th century occurred in Manchuria (a historical and geographic region of Russia and China) between 1910 and 1911. Approximately 60,000 people died. The great flu pandemic of 1918 and 1919 is estimated to have killed between 30 million and 50 million people worldwide. Among them were 675,000 Americans. Asian flu (1957-1958) started in China claimed more than 1.1 million worldwide, with 116,000 deaths occurring in the United States.

Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), the recent pandemic which started in 1981, is still with us. It has claimed an estimated 35 million lives since it was first identified. Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, better known as SARS, was first identified in 2003 in China, though the first case is believed to have occurred in November 2002. By July more than 8,000 cases and 774 deaths had been reported. The global H1N1 flu pandemic may have killed as many as 575,000 people, though only 18,500 deaths were confirmed. In 2012, approximately 122,000 people worldwide died from the measles, a highly contagious disease caused by a virus.

From the above it is clear that like Covid-19 some of the pandemics started in China and spread to other countries. It is essential that Public Health specialists, epidemiologists and social scientists to understand the cause. Secondly, most of the pandemics originated in Europe and later spread to America. An attempt is made in this paper to study the causes.

Empirical Evidence from Covid-19 Pandemic

Covid-19 emerged in Wuhan, a city in the Hubei province of China in December 2019 and spread around the world. On December 31, 2019, Chinese authorities alerted the World Health Organization of an outbreak of a novel strain of corona virus causing severe illness. On January 11, 2020 China announced its first death from the virus, a 61-year-old man. Soon, people travelling from China spread the disease to Europe, America, Asia and Australia. On January 30, the WHO declared the corona virus a global emergency as the death toll in China jumped to 170, with 7,711 cases reported in the country, where the virus had spread to all 31 provinces. On March 11, 2020, the WHO declared Covid-19 a pandemic.

As on December 1, 2021 there were 263,755,342 cases and 5,241,932 deaths in the world. With the invention of vaccine and its administration the pandemic is slowing down but the daily increase of cases in Europe and USA is increasing alarmingly. For instance, Table 1 gives the cases of Covid-19 on December 1, 2021. Even countries as Poland, Netherlands, Czechia and Ukraine with small population have good number of Covid-19 cases.

It is evident that Europe and America are facing the third wave in spite of the vaccinations. For this study, 15 countries are selected which have the highest number of cases as shown in table 2.

As seen in table 2, USA leads the table with 49 million cases followed by India (34 million) and Brazil (22million). The above table gives the number of cases of Covid-19 and death in absolute numbers but the real indicator of the extent of the pandemic is not absolute number of cases and deaths but number of cases and deaths per million population. What is significant in this table is that there are six countries of Europe, five countries of North and South America and only four from Asia. Another significant factor is that no countries of Africa figure in the list of 15 countries. So, Covid-19 is maximum in Europe and America, medium in Asia and minimum in Africa.

Table 3 gives cases/million population. As we see in this table, though India is in second position in terms of total number of cases occupies 14th position in terms of total number of cases per million population. It is because India is doing well in controlling the pandemic in spite of the large population.

Table 4 gives the total number of deaths per million population. Here, five South and North American countries top the table followed by European and Asian countries. Though India stands third in the total number of deaths stands last in table 4 in terms of deaths/1 million population.

As we peruse tables 3 and 4, we find that Covid-19 pandemic is concentrated in Europe and North and South America. It is also clear that most of the pandemics of the past have started either in Europe or in America. Further, Covid-19 is less in third world, under-developed Asian and African countries. Even vaccination is not an answer to this. Table 5 gives a picture of the percentage of vaccination administered in some of the important countries vis-a-vis India.

Though the countries of Europe and America consisted of developed countries with good sanitation and health facilities nay vaccinated even with booster doses, what are the reasons for the wide spread pandemic? Below, an attempt is made to study the factors of Covid-19.

1. Care taken

Countries like China and India, though most populous, have taken good care during the epidemic. Though the epidemic started in China, the early responses and measures adopted such as early reporting and situation monitoring, large-scale surveillance, and preparation of medical facilities and supplies, were all successful in reducing the epidemic. Similarly, a series of announcements of lockdowns made by Indian Prime Minister, Shree Narendra Modi, contact tracing, thermal screening, hospitalisation of patients and quarantining the visitors reduced the spread of the pandemic. Though there were attacks on medical personnel, Prime Minister Modi was firm. In some countries people did not co-operate, there were instances of revolts. Secondly, then President of USA, Donald Trump did not take much care, also refused to wear a mask and tested positive for Covid-19. Now, with Joe Biden at the helm of affairs the number of daily cases and deaths is coming down.

2. Racial and Cultural Factors

Covid-19 has further exposed the strong association between race, ethnicity and culture. Anthropologists on the basis of anthropometric traits have classified populations of the world into three main races and they are: Caucasoid, Mongoloids and Negroid. As we see in tables 3 and 4 most of the cases of Covid-19 are found in Europe and in America. There are a good number of cases in South America too. South America is home to 400 million people, of which 180 million is composed of Whites with several different European extractions and other lineages. In tables 2 to 4, we do not find any country from Africa. So, Covid-19 is maximum among Caucasoids, moderate among Mongoloids and least among Negroids. The contradiction is that though the Caucasoids have good physical environment, housing, occupation, education, health care and economic stability, the incidence of Covid-19 is more among them.

Cultural factors too play important role in preventing Covid-19. In Thailand and India, where virus numbers are relatively low, people greet each other at a distance, with palms joined together as in prayer. In Japan and South Korea, people bow, and long before the Coronavirus arrived, they tended to wear face masks when feeling unwell. People from most of the Asian countries take care of the elderly at home unlike the developed countries of Europe and America where they are taken care in the homes of the elderly, which naturally prevents the spread of Covid-19.

3. Development Perspective

Countries are labelled as either developed or developing countries. A number of different criteria exist for defining whether a country is considered a developing country or not. United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) Country Classification System is calculated from the Human Development Index (HDI), which aims to take into account the multifaceted nature of development. HDI is a composite index of three indices measuring countries achievement in longevity, education and income. It also recognizes other aspects of development such as political freedom and personal security. As we see in tables 3 and 4, developed countries had greater number of cases and deaths per million population due to Covid-19 compared to the developing countries. The developed countries of the world were ill-prepared for the pandemic that they have suffered.

4. Immunity

Racial factors can also be correlated with immunity factor. The immune system protects against viruses and diseases and produces antibodies to kill pathogens. The immune systems of any two individuals and also groups of individuals can respond differently. Researchers ponder why Covid-19 appears deadlier in the U.S. and Europe than in Asia and Africa. It is observed that Africans, Asians and Europeans have genetically different immune systems. Though the epidemics are supposed to hit harder the urban areas with denser population and poor socio-economic conditions, i.e., in slums, it has not happened in Dharavi in Mumbai (biggest slum in Asia). Immunity exhibited by Indians against Covid-19 has to be explored.

5. Atmospheric Temperature

The impact of Covid-19 is more evident from countries in the Northern hemisphere than those in the Southern and those positioned adjacent to the Equator. With few exceptions, the infection rate, severity and mortality are significantly overrepresented in countries like Italy, Spain, USA, UK and several others. Temperatures vary from the north of Northern hemisphere compared to tropical countries which are near the equator. Since most respiratory viruses are known to show a seasonal pattern of infection, it has been hypothesised that Covid-19 may be seasonally dependent as well. The study of Alexandre Rouen suggests that high temperatures might dampen Covid-19 propagation, while lower temperatures might increase its transmission. The maximum reported case, as well as death, was noted when the temperature was in the range of around 2°C to 17°C. Countries like the USA, UK, Italy and Spain belonged to this category. The vulnerability was moderate when the temperature was less than around 2°C, e.g. Russia, parts of Canada and a few Scandinavian countries. For temperature 27°C and above, a significantly lesser degree of vulnerability was noted. Countries from South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, South-East Asia, the African continent and Australia fell in that category.

6. Food Habits

The type of food and amount of food consumed is an important factor of resistance to infection. Much literature exists in Ayurveda and other Indian systems of medicine on the definitive beneficial effects of Indian spices in augmenting immunity. Spices like capsicum, cardamom, cinnamon, clove, coriander, cumin, garlic, ginger, kokum, nutmeg, pepper, saffron, tamarind, turmeric etc. are the most common food ingredient of the Indian kitchen which are instrumental in developing immunity. The study of Yehya Elsayed showed that there is a clear interrelated prevalence between the total number of Covid-19 cases per million population tested and the gram of spice supply per capita per day. Nations with lower consumptions of spices per capita showed greater number of Covid-19 cases per million population. Obesity is the result of consuming more food than what is required for the body which is the hallmark of developed countries. Since the pandemic began, dozens of studies have reported that many of the sickest Covid-19 patients have been people with obesity. Further, a pan-India serosurvey conducted by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has suggested that vegetarians might be at a lower risk of contracting coronavirus.

7. Urbanization

Urbanization is a crucial factor in the spread of Covid-19. Cities are home to more than half of the world’s human population. Deep inequalities and poverty mark cities in both developed and developing countries. After spreading in China, Covid-19 quickly emerged in urban centers around the world. Given the high concentration of population and economic activities in cities, they are often hotspots of Covid-19 infections. Countries such as USA (82.7%), UK (83.9%), Italy (71%), Germany (77.5%) and France (81%) have higher urbanization rate and have greater incidence of Covid-19 cases per million population whereas Indonesia (56.6%) and India (34.5%) have lesser percentage of urbanization and have lesser incidence of Covid-19. So, Covid-19 is directly related to the rate of urbanization. Greater the rate of urbanization, greater is the mix-up of people whereas in the villages people live far away from each other and mix less often.

8. Migration and Travelling

Migrants are considered vulnerable to the spread of Covid-19. In most of the countries, Covid-19 started with the migrants. As of 1 March 2021, emigrants from the 20 countries with the highest number of Covid-19 cases accounted for 31 percent of the total international migrant stock. Further, available international data show that at least 7 countries – the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Italy, Germany and Czechia – depend on foreign-born workers in the critical sector of healthcare services. Living conditions in crowded housing pose a particular risk to the spread of Covid-19 among migrant workers. People travel for different purposes as employment, education, business, leisure, adventure, etc. People from developed countries travel more than the people from underdeveloped countries as a result the extent of Covid-19 is more among them. Now, various countries have imposed restrictions on travel.

9. Political Structure

Covid-19 has put pressure on political systems everywhere to deliver effective governance on an emergency basis. The spread of the Covid-19 is changing how political leaders are making decisions at the local, national and global level. Though Covid-19 started in China, the early responses and measures adopted by the authoritarian China, such as early reporting and situation monitoring, large-scale surveillance, and preparation of medical facilities and supplies, were all successful in reducing the epidemic in China generally and in the epicentre Wuhan specifically. On the contrary, in democratic United States of America in some places people revolted. In India there was surge of cases and deaths due to Covid-19 during the second wave because both the governments and the people were careless regarding following the Covid-19 norms.

10. Initiative by Women Leaders

Research has been done on how women leaders at the helm seem to have handled the coronavirus pandemic significantly better than their male counterparts. For example, Germany's Angela Merkel, (now the pandemic is spreading fast) New Zealand's Jacinda Ardern, Denmark's Mette Frederiksen and Bangladesh's Sheikh Hasina have been exemplary in dealing with Covid-19 pandemic in their respective countries. This may be due to the proactive and coordinated policy responses adopted by female leaders. The study, carried out by Supriya Garikipati revealed that agile policy measures in the initial three months of the pandemic in female-led countries saved nearly two times more lives than those run by male leaders despite having similar numbers of cases. Moreover, an important facet the study highlighted is the fact that women were less willing to take risks with lives and imposed a nationwide lockdown significantly earlier than male leaders.


Covid-19, epidemic has created havoc in the lives of people in multiple ways as loss of employment, free movement, fear, insecurity etc. The so called developed countries have suffered more than the developing countries. Social development is the answer. It is achieved when economic equality, social justice, health and education and cultural equality have been provided to the people. This article has analysed the direct and indirect factors of the epidemic. The study has concluded that Covid-19 pandemic is maximum among the Whites, moderate among the Browns (Asians) and minimum among the Blacks.

Since the epidemic is far from over, we have to be vigilant. Caucasoids, people living in cold climates and people living in towns and cities cannot help themselves because of the situation they are in, but they can improve their immunity by having proper exercises (yoga may be a good option) and consuming proper food with spices. Over eating should be avoided because obesity may be the invitation not only for Covid-19 but also for other sicknesses as high blood pressure, diabetes etc. Excessive travelling should be avoided. However, science and technology have come to the rescue of people. Modern technology accelerated use of machines and devices at the time of Covid-19. Modern technology has helped us in ameliorating our troubles by helping us through health management, education, entertainment, changed business practices and making people gadget savvy.





By Dr Richard Pais
Dr Richard Pais is retired Associate Professor and Head of the Department of Sociology, St Aloysius College (Autonomous), Mangalore. He is the author of 25 books and more than 100 articles which are published in national and international journals.
To submit your article / poem / short story to Daijiworld, please email it to mentioning 'Article/poem submission for daijiworld' in the subject line. Please note the following:

  • The article / poem / short story should be original and previously unpublished in other websites except in the personal blog of the author. We will cross-check the originality of the article, and if found to be copied from another source in whole or in parts without appropriate acknowledgment, the submission will be rejected.
  • The author of the poem / article / short story should include a brief self-introduction limited to 500 characters and his/her recent picture (optional). Pictures relevant to the article may also be sent (optional), provided they are not bound by copyright. Travelogues should be sent along with relevant pictures not sourced from the Internet. Travelogues without relevant pictures will be rejected.
  • In case of a short story / article, the write-up should be at least one-and-a-half pages in word document in Times New Roman font 12 (or, about 700-800 words). Contributors are requested to keep their write-ups limited to a maximum of four pages. Longer write-ups may be sent in parts to publish in installments. Each installment should be sent within a week of the previous installment. A single poem sent for publication should be at least 3/4th of a page in length. Multiple short poems may be submitted for single publication.
  • All submissions should be in Microsoft Word format or text file. Pictures should not be larger than 1000 pixels in width, and of good resolution. Pictures should be attached separately in the mail and may be numbered if the author wants them to be placed in order.
  • Submission of the article / poem / short story does not automatically entail that it would be published. Daijiworld editors will examine each submission and decide on its acceptance/rejection purely based on merit.
  • Daijiworld reserves the right to edit the submission if necessary for grammar and spelling, without compromising on the author's tone and message.
  • Daijiworld reserves the right to reject submissions without prior notice. Mails/calls on the status of the submission will not be entertained. Contributors are requested to be patient.
  • The article / poem / short story should not be targeted directly or indirectly at any individual/group/community. Daijiworld will not assume responsibility for factual errors in the submission.
  • Once accepted, the article / poem / short story will be published as and when we have space. Publication may take up to four weeks from the date of submission of the write-up, depending on the number of submissions we receive. No author will be published twice in succession or twice within a fortnight.
  • Time-bound articles (example, on Mother's Day) should be sent at least a week in advance. Please specify the occasion as well as the date on which you would like it published while sending the write-up.

Comment on this article

  • Dora Rego, Nirkan/Mumbai-Amboli Andheri West/Canada-Mississauga

    Thu, Dec 16 2021

    Congratulations Richie Appreciate and admire your intense study on facts and figures on this Corona Virus Pandemic which is a disaster/curse on this entire planet. Never could imagine the time effort and hard work that has gone behind this article. Surely our Society nation and world at large will benefit with this article.Truly our family has been blessed you having as my brother.

  • Bhaskar, Mangalore

    Tue, Dec 14 2021

    ??? Has nothing to do with the low level of Vitamin D in the population of the northern latitudes, particularly Europe and North America in the winter, and in those locales with extremely high cloud formation and lack of sunshine? Nor the lack of timely and proper out of hospital treatment of the illness in many of these countries? India has been open to alternate treatments and approaches to the illness.

  • Shuba, Mangaluru

    Tue, Dec 14 2021

    This article at this time of pandemic is really useful with related information

  • A. LOURDUSAMY, mangalore/attavar

    Tue, Dec 14 2021

    Dr Pais has embarked upon the mission of highlighting issues that have become vital in today's world in order to make our planet safe and human living dignified. A comprehensive historical and logical analysis of covid 19. The mute question is: is this a real decease or a concocted one by the pharmaceutical companies and some more interested parties/ Such questions are raised time and again either to divert the attention of the people or to magnify the enormity. The fact is: there is this sickness and people are dying. Can we prevent its spread and eradicate it from the face of the earth and make human living worth it?

  • Mangalurian, Mangaluru

    Tue, Dec 14 2021

    Indian cases are terribly under-reported. India does not have an understanding of statistics. So, with our 'komana' down, we cannot accuse those who maintain their statistics correctly.

  • Ben D'Souza Prabhu, Mangalore, Bombay Bandra now in Canada

    Mon, Dec 13 2021

    My Grateful thanks to you dear Dr Richard Pais for your beautiful narrative article. I am really impressed about your friendly approach to this current problem. Only the Omnipotent is able to throw more light to us with His Gift. THANK YOU VERY MUCH INDEED. MAY OUR GOOD LORD BLESS YOU !!!

  • Rohan, Mangalore

    Mon, Dec 13 2021

    Excellent article sir. The bottom line is live your life with caution but not in fear. Also everyone has a right to decide what's good for them in any situation . Each persons life is unique. Law of averages does not work in all situations. We have to apply our intellect and access our risks and rewards.

Leave a Comment

Title: Is Coronavirus a Disease of Whites?

You have 2000 characters left.


Please write your correct name and email address. Kindly do not post any personal, abusive, defamatory, infringing, obscene, indecent, discriminatory or unlawful or similar comments. will not be responsible for any defamatory message posted under this article.

Please note that sending false messages to insult, defame, intimidate, mislead or deceive people or to intentionally cause public disorder is punishable under law. It is obligatory on Daijiworld to provide the IP address and other details of senders of such comments, to the authority concerned upon request.

Hence, sending offensive comments using daijiworld will be purely at your own risk, and in no way will be held responsible.