A new study published by Kingston University (KU) has sought to explain the impact of coronavirus on the politics of democracies around the world — and vice versa.

Taking in the impact of democratic politics on the pandemic, and how this has also been newly shaped by the virus, the KU study highlighted how some democracies have so far fared better than others when it comes to limiting the damage done to public health, the economy and society by Covid-19.

'Covid-19 and Democracy, First Cut Policy Analyses: Country Case Studies' looked at how the eight countries (The UK, Germany, Bulgaria, Romania, Israel, Japan, Taiwan and the US) responded from April to June 30, during the early stages of the pandemic.

The paper for example pointed to the success in Taiwan of keeping death rates far below those experienced in the UK and US for example, even in terms of of a percentage of their population.

One likely factor here, the authors explained, was the East Asian familiarity with respiratory viruses like the 2002-2004 SARS virus, and the widespread norm of mask wearing in public places in many of those countries like Taiwan.

Other successes were also pointed to in countries closer to home.

For example, the researchers found that German Chancellor Angela Merkel's proactive response earlier in the year had helped the country mitigate the worst impacts of the virus.

"Germany engaged very early on, designing and stockpiling tests during the time lag between the outbreak being identified and hitting its population,” Project lead Dr Peter Finn, from the University’s School of Law, Social and Behavioural Sciences, said.

"When the first outbreaks occurred, the government and health authorities were immediately able to roll out testing.

"As a consequence, its death rate, although in the thousands, is currently far below the UK.

"Leaders such as Angela Merkel seemed to get a grasp of the situation much earlier, indicating strong leadership appears to have been key, although this is a moving picture," he added.

Other countries like Bulgaria also coped with some aspects of the virus in a more robust way than the UK might have done.

"Interestingly, Bulgaria had also been better prepared because its government often closed schools when the country was hit by seasonal flu outbreaks," the paper found.

That meant the public there adjusted more easily when Covid-19 arrived.

The paper meanwhile examined other elements of the pandemic and its impact on politics in the countries examined, including the likely implications of a vaccine and the impact of baseless anti-vaccination conspiracy theories.

In the meantime, with Europe entering a second wave of coronavirus, Dr Finn and the contributors to the report warned that all countries need to continue to prepare.

"Until there is a vaccine there is very little place for complacency in Europe. As we have witnessed, Covid-19 takes hold very quickly within communities.

"Unless there are measures put in place, leaders at different levels are coordinating responses and the public are listening, then the figures just exponentially grow,” Dr Finn said.

Other contributors to the report included Professor Javier Ortega, Associate Professor Radu Cinpoes, Associate Professor Atsuko Ichijo, Dr Nevena Nancheva, Dr Robin Pettitt and Dr Ronald Ranta, all from Kingston University’s Faculty of Business and Social Sciences, and Dr Robert Ledger, of Frankfurt Goethe University.