Article

Inequalities in covid-19 inequalities research: Who had the capacity to respond?

Joan Benach, Lucinda Cash-Gibson, Diego F. Rojas-Gualdrón, Álvaro Padilla-Pozo, Juan Fernández-Gracia, Víctor M. Eguíluz and the COVID-SHINE group;
Project selected in the Social Research Call 2019 (LCF/PR/SR20/52550011)

The covid-19 pandemic has been testing countries’ capacities and preparedness to actively respond and collaborate on a common global threat. In the project on which this article is based, scientific articles on covid-19-associated inequalities published between January 2020 and April 2021 were analysed. The study was carried out in terms of the volume of production, distribution by country income group and world region, and inter-country collaborations. The findings reveal that the covid-19 inequalities research has been highly collaborative; however, inequality exists within these collaborations. Also, new dynamics and partnerships have emerged in comparison to the research field of (pre-covid-19) global health inequalities, which should be further investigated.
Key points
  • 1
       Between January 2020 and 23 April 2021, 9,355 scientific articles were published on covid-19-associated inequalities worldwide, and 140 countries contributed to at least one article.
  • 2
       The emerging research field of covid-19 inequalities has been highly collaborative, although inequitable research practices exist within these collaborations, between countries, between country income groups and between world regions.
  • 3
       North America and the European and Central Asian region have contributed most to this research in terms of world regions. The Middle Eastern and North African region is the third largest regional producer of covid-19 inequalities research, and has significantly increased its scientific productivity in comparison to the research field of (pre-covid-19) global health inequalities.
  • 4
       Three main clusters of collaboration were identified within this research field: one that contained Anglo-Saxon, Asian and African countries, a second one mainly comprising European countries and Chile, and a third one mainly made up of four Latin American countries: Colombia, Brazil, Mexico and Argentina.
  • 5
       Prior to the pandemic, evidence demonstrated that inequalities existed in the global capacity to produce research on health inequalities, which has likely reduced many countries’ scientific capacity and preparedness to respond to the covid-19 pandemic.
  • 6
       To ensure proactive preparedness for future crises and effective strategies to tackle growing health inequalities, investment in related research capacities must be a priority in all countries.

Map of the world showing the different degrees of collaborations from different countries in covid-19 inequalities research. The colour of each country reflects the number of articles produced in collaboration with other countries (increasing from red to blue).

The colour of the connections encodes the number of articles in which the two linked countries appear (increasing from yellow to red, with the green connection indicating the ´highest producing´ research cluster).

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