PLoS One. 2023 Jan 5;18(1):e0279894. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0279894. eCollection 2023.
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted a need for better understanding of countries’ vulnerability and resilience to not only pandemics but also disasters, climate change, and other systemic shocks. A comprehensive characterization of vulnerability can inform efforts to improve infrastructure and guide disaster response in the future. In this paper, we propose a data-driven framework for studying countries’ vulnerability and resilience to incident disasters across multiple dimensions of society. To illustrate this methodology, we leverage the rich data landscape surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic to characterize observed resilience for several countries (USA, Brazil, India, Sweden, New Zealand, and Israel) as measured by pandemic impacts across a variety of social, economic, and political domains. We also assess how observed responses and outcomes (i.e., resilience) of the COVID-19 pandemic are associated with pre-pandemic characteristics or vulnerabilities, including (1) prior risk for adverse pandemic outcomes due to population density and age and (2) the systems in place prior to the pandemic that may impact the ability to respond to the crisis, including health infrastructure and economic capacity. Our work demonstrates the importance of viewing vulnerability and resilience in a multi-dimensional way, where a country’s resources and outcomes related to vulnerability and resilience can differ dramatically across economic, political, and social domains. This work also highlights key gaps in our current understanding about vulnerability and resilience and a need for data-driven, context-specific assessments of disaster vulnerability in the future.