A population that trusts each other recovers more rapidly from a covid-peak

Published on
January 14, 2022

Not trust in the government and its institutes, but trust in one’s fellow humans is strongly linked to the speed with which the infection and hospitalisation numbers drop after a covid wave. This is the remarkable conclusion of a study published by professor Marten Scheffer in Nature’s Scientific Reports.

Scheffer and his colleagues at the University of Exeter and the American Santa Fé Institute investigated why some countries are more successful in combatting covid than others. In other words: why do some waves of infections and deaths develop differently from others? Explaining resilience in complex systems lies at the core of Scheffer’s work.


The scientists studied the corona waves in over 150 countries. Most waves show exponential development. This means that the speed at which the wave decreases can be characterised by a single number (exponent). The differences in the rate of decrease (resilience) between countries are considerable.

China, Australia, Western and Northern European countries, and some states in Central Africa are very resilient. In contrast, Russia, Brazil, Mexico, and the United States perform poorly. The most resilient country (Mauritius) recovers forty times faster than the least resilient nation (Costa Rica). The severity of the measures is partially responsible for this discrepancy.