Global context of the COVID-19 pandemic

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The COVID-19 pandemic in Spain. First wave: from the first cases to the end of June 2020

Monographs from the National Atlas of Spain.

Thematic structure


This monograph must necessarily begin with an explicit reference to the global context of the COVID-19 pandemic. The World Health Organisation (WHO) declared a pandemic when over 100 countries had officially registered cases of the disease. The rapid and extensive diffusion of the virus simultaneously in multiple geographical areas of the planet forces to insist on the global nature of this phenomenon in order to better understand what took place in Spain.

The thematic itinerary that is proposed in this first part of the publication is based on three basic concepts: COVID-19 is an illness that spread rapidly all over the world, causing a massive level of infection and numerous deaths; the special importance of the European Union as the general frame for Spain; and the drawing up of a first outline portrait of the social, economic and environmental effects caused by the pandemic globally and, more specifically, in the European Union.

In relation to the first chapter, the origin and diffusion of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in China, its spread to the rest of the world, the amount of cases and of deaths in the various different countries, and the human resources made available to combat the pandemic will be assessed.

As a second chapter, the specific case of the European Union will be examined as the frame in which Spain operates. In this respect, an analysis will be carried out, on the hand, on certain factors that may be considered as leading to a greater degree of infection, and consequently as increasing the impact of the health crisis, i.e. identifying areas with a higher population density, including large cities and airports with a high passenger turnover. On the other hand, the demographical structure will be presented in order to emphasise the importance of the population over 65 years of age. The presentation of these key indicators for the development of the pandemic (the amount of cases and of deaths in each State) tells its own story.

Finally, three key indicators have been selected to show the most remarkable social, economic and environmental effects that were felt during the first wave of the pandemic throughout the world, in general, and in the European Union, in particular, i.e. the level of employed, changes in the Gross Domestic Product as well as NO2 emissions. The COVID-19 pandemic had an effect on public health, had a clear impact on economic activity and the labour market, and also had significant effects on the behaviour of certain environmental indicators as a result of the economic slowdown.


Co-authorship of the text in Spanish: Rubén C. Lois González. See the list of members engaged


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You can download the complete publication The COVID-19 pandemic in Spain. First wave: from the first cases to the end of June 2020 in Libros Digitales del ANE site.