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Revista Medica Herediana

versión impresa ISSN 1018-130Xversión On-line ISSN 1729-214X

Rev Med Hered vol.32 no.4 Lima jul./dic. 2021  Epub 19-Ene-2022 

Cartas al editor

Factors associated with fear in population during the Covid-19 pandemic

Factores asociados con el miedo en la población durante la pandemia de la Covid-19

Estelita Lima Cândido1  , Titular professor of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Public Health

Jucier Gonçalves Júnior2  , Resident Physician of the Rheumatology Program

1. School of Medicine, Federal University of Cariri (UFCA). Barbalha, Ceará, Brazil.

2. Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Rheumatology, São Paulo University (USP). São Paulo, Brazil.

Dear Editor:

The factors associated with fear during the Covid-19 pandemic in unknown. Thus, this article aimed to briefly describe the main risk factors for collective fear genesis during the COVID-19 pandemic 1.

The Covid-19 pandemic has caused direct impacts on income due to premature deaths, workplace absenteeism, and productivity reduction 1,2. It has created a negative supply shock, in which manufacturing productive activity slowed down due to global supply chain disruptions and closures of factories 2. Thus, the first factor in creating fear during the Covid-19 pandemic is due to the economic crisis 1. Furthermore, in addition to the fear of contracting the disease, Covid-19 has caused insecurity in all aspects of life, from the collective to the individual perspective, from the daily functioning of society to changes in interpersonal relationships 3. In a Chinese study with 263 participants, 52.1% of the participants felt horrified and apprehensive due to the pandemic 4. A paper published in The Lancet reported that patients infected with Covid-19 (or suspected of being infected) might experience intense emotional and behavioral reactions, such as fear, boredom, loneliness, anxiety, insomnia, and anger 5.

It is noteworthy that there is a lack of quality or conflicting information offered to the population as fake news. This “Disinformation pandemic”, whose term was recently nicknamed, is called Infodemia 1. According to literature data, false information has been disseminated more quickly than Sars-CoV-2 itself. Doubtful or even false data about factors related to virus transmission, incubation period, geographic reach, number of infected people, and real lethality rate lead to population insecurity and fear 6.

Thus, emphasis should be given to the development of fear during COVID-19, due to the corruption and poor management of the pandemic by local governments such as Brazil and USA 7,8. An article published on the New York Times, regarding the exploitation of the pandemic crisis in Latin America, points to the involvement of public officials and businessmen in the overpricing of items of various kinds 7. In Ecuador, plastic bags for corps were sold at 13x the real value; in Bolivia, the former Minister of Health awaits trial under house arrest on charges of corruption for paying a fan that costs millions more than the normal rate and that did not even work properly; Peru’s police chief and interior minister resigned after his subordinates bought diluted sanitizer and flimsy face masks for police officers, who then began dying of infections from the virus at alarming rates 8.

In Brazil, dozens of people, including businessmen, health secretaries, governors, and mayors have been investigated or responded to overpricing processes, fraud, and other forms of resource misuse that culminated in the collapse of the hospital network and the resulting high number of deaths. The most recent case occurred in Manaus, capital of the Brazilian state of Amazonas, where patients not only accumulated in the corridors due to lack of beds, but also lacked oxygen 8. Horror scenes were broadcast by health professionals and residents asking for help, and family members carried oxygen cylinders on their shoulders to save their loved ones that were suffocating.

Therefore, Covid-19 should be seen as an event that is not only biological, but multifactorial. The influence of the environment and factors such as political, social, and economic conditions from the pandemic management by local governments to the economic impact on communities, deserves to be highlighted in the study of the impact on people's mental health 1-4. Thus, Covid-19 is now considered not only a pandemic, but a syndemia. This term refers to “a set of closely intertwined and mutual enhancing health problems that significantly affect the overall health status of a population within the context of a perpetuating configuration of noxious social conditions” 9. Although everyone is susceptible to Sars-CoV-2, the virus does not affect everyone equally, but those with low socioeconomic conditions are the most severely affected.


1. Gonçalves Júnior J, Jair Paulino de Sales J, Troglio da Silva F, et al. Analysis of the prison population's mental health in Sars-Cov-2 pandemic: Qualitative analysis. Psychiatry Res. 2021; 296:113669. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2020.113669 [ Links ]

2. Pak A, Adegboye OA, Adekunle AI, Rahman KM, McBryde ES, Eisen DP. Economic consequences of the COVID-19 outbreak: the need for epidemic preparedness. Front Public Health. 2020; 8:241. doi: 10.3389/fpubh.2020.00241 [ Links ]

3. da Silva SS, Brandão GCG, Araújo KMDFA. Isolamento social: um olhar a saúde mental de idosos durante a pandemia do COVID-19. Res Soc Dev. 2020; 9(7): e392974244-e392974244. DOI:10.33448/rsd-v9i7.4244 [ Links ]

4. Zhang Y, Ma ZF. Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health and quality of life among local residents in Liaoning Province, China: a cross-sectional study. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020; 17(7):2381. doi: 10.3390/ijerph17072381 [ Links ]

5. Brooks SK, Webster RK, Smith LE, et al. The psychological impact of quarantine and how to reduce it: rapid review of the evidence. Lancet. 2020; 395, 10227:912-20 [ Links ]

6. Gonçalves Júnior J, Alencar H, Araujo W, et al. Impact of Fakenews on the mental health of the older adult population in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Wulfenia. 2020; 27(11): 12-6. [ Links ]

7. Kitroeff N, Taj M. Latin America's Virus Villains: Corrupt Officials Collude with Price Gougers for Body Bags and Flimsy Masks. New York: New York Times; June 20, 2020. (Cited February 23, 2021). Available in: ]

8. Grupo Globo. Documentos mostram que mais de 30 morreram nos dois dias de colapso por falta de oxigênio em Manaus. Rio de Janeiro: Grupo Globo; 2021. (Cited February 23, 2021). Available in: [ Links ]

9. Singer M. A dose of drugs, a touch of violence, a case of AIDS: conceptualizing the SAVA syndemic. Free Inq Creat Sociol. 2000; 28(1):13-24. [ Links ]

Recibido: 19 de Julio de 2021; Aprobado: 26 de Agosto de 2021

Correspondence: Jucier Gonçalves Júnior, São Paulo University, Departamento of Internal Medicine, São Paulo, Brazil Email: Jucier.gonç

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