Andrey N. Petrov, Sweta Tiwari, Michele Devlin, Mark Welford, Nikolay Golosov, John DeGroote, Tatiana Degai & Stanislav Ksenofontov

Since February 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has been unfolding in the Arctic, placing many communities at risk due to their remoteness, limited healthcare options, underlying health issues, and other compounding factors. This paper assimilates diverse sources of COVID-19 data in the Arctic from 2020-2022 and provides a preliminary analysis at the regional (subnational) level. The results suggest that the COVID-19 pandemic outcomes to date (infections, mortality, and case-fatality ratios) were highly variable, but mortality generally remained below respective national levels. The Arctic has persevered through COVID-19 with less dire consequences despite the region’s pre-existing vulnerabilities. Based on the varying trends and magnitude of the pandemic, we classify Arctic regions into several groups. 

As of October 1, 2022, the Arctic has experienced about 2.4 million confirmed cases and over 29,000 deaths from COVID-19. These outcomes are not uniform across the Arctic region and are greatly influenced by Northern Russia, given its sizable Arctic populations. Greenland, the Faroe Islands, Iceland, Northern Canada, and Northern Norway reported just under 60 cumulative deaths per 100,000 population, while Alaska, Northern Russia, and Northern Sweden had over 180 deaths per 100,000. This study summarizes the COVID-19 epidemiological outcomes in the Arctic by its regions from February 2020 to October 2022, with a goal of shedding more light on the factors that determine the pandemic’s spatiotemporal dynamics in the Arctic. The COVID-19 epidemiological variability across the Arctic, to a large extent, is explained by geographical isolation, the effectiveness of COVID-19 public health prevention measures, the nature of the health care system, and varying vaccination rates, among other reasons.

Lessons learned by examining the patterns of COVID-19 spread and pandemic outcomes, such as mortality and morbidity their relationships with underlying public health conditions and healthcare resources, as well as socioeconomic characteristics, prevention and mitigation policies, and experiences of the Indigenous Peoples can inform responses to current and future pandemics.

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