Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.12105/16489
Latitude and longitude as drivers of COVID-19 waves' behavior in Europe: A time-space perspective of the pandemic
PLoS One. 2023 Sep 15;18(9):e0291618.
Background: Social restrictions and vaccination seem to have shaped the pandemic development in Europe, but the influence of geographical position is still debated. This study aims to verify whether the pandemic spread through Europe following a particular direction, during the period between the start of the pandemic and November 2021. The existence of a spatial gradient for epidemic intensity is also hypothesized. Methods: Daily COVID-19 epidemiological data were extracted from Our World in Data COVID-19 database, which also included vaccination and non-pharmacological interventions data. Latitude and longitude of each country's centroid were used as geographic variables. Epidemic periods were delimited from epidemic surge data. Multivariable linear and Cox's regression models were performed for each epidemic period to test if geographical variables influenced surge dates. Generalized additive models (GAM) were used to test the spatial gradient hypothesis with three epidemic intensity measures. Results: Linear models suggest a possible west-east shift in the first epidemic period and features a significant association of NPIs with epidemic surge delay. Neither latitude nor longitude had significant associations with epidemic surge timing in both second and third periods. Latitude displays strong negative associations with all epidemic intensity measures in GAM models. Vaccination was also negatively associated with intensity. Conclusions: A longitudinal spread of the pandemic in Europe seems plausible, particularly concerning the first wave. However, a recurrent trend was not observed. Southern Europe countries may have experienced increased transmissibility and incidence, despite climatic conditions apparently unfavourable to the virus.