Modeling Central Asia’s Choices in Containing COVID-19: A Multivariate Study

Published date01 October 2023
AuthorVincenzo Alfano,Salvatore Ercolano,Mauro Pinto
Date01 October 2023
Subject MatterArticles
Administration & Society
2023, Vol. 55(9) 1819 –1836
© The Author(s) 2023
Article reuse guidelines:
DOI: 10.1177/00953997231186996
Modeling Central
Asia’s Choices in
Containing COVID-19:
A Multivariate Study
Vincenzo Alfano1, Salvatore Ercolano2,
and Mauro Pinto3
Different countries have adopted different policies in their fight against the
COVID-19 outbreak. In this work we aim to model these approaches with
respect to the first wave of COVID-19 (from January to October 2020)
in the five Central Asian republics (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan,
Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan). By means of a multivariate approach based
on principal component analysis and cluster analysis, we derived three
clusters. Each of these represents a different strategy adopted by a group of
governments in a given period of the first wave: pre-pandemic, initial reaction,
and emergency scenarios. The contribution of these results is two-fold: on
the one hand they may help us to understand differences and similarities
among Central Asian republics during the first wave of the COVID-19
outbreak and guide future quantitative or qualitative studies; on the other
hand, our findings suggest that, with the exception of Turkmenistan, the
different countries adopted very similar strategies and that deaths, more
than cases, pushed governments to impose restrictions.
1DiSEGIM, University of Napoli “Parthenope,” Napoli, Italy
2Department of Mathematics, Computer Science, and Economics, University of Basilicata,
Potenza, Basilicata, Italy
3Department of Political Sciences “Jean Monnet,” University of Campania Luigi Vanvitelli,
Napoli, Campania, Italy
Corresponding Author:
Vincenzo Alfano, DiSEGIM, University of Napoli “Parthenope,” Via Generale Parisi, 13, Napoli
80133, Italy.
1186996AAS0010.1177/00953997231186996Administration & SocietyAlfano et al.
1820 Administration & Society 55(9)
COVID-19, Central Asia, government response, CA, PCA, OxCGRT
In 2020 the entire world was overwhelmed by the coronavirus infectious dis-
ease (COVID-19) pandemic. For contemporary governments it was an
unprecedented event, which severely stressed not only health institutions but
also socio-economic and political internal structures. Countries resorted to a
number of strategies involving the adoption of health measures and non-
pharmaceutical interventions (NPI) to avoid the spread of the disease and
actively fight COVID-19 contagion. Since NPIs often imply social distanc-
ing, and hence come with significant economic (both monetary and non-
monetary) costs, governments modulated their restrictions depending on the
spread of the virus, using such policies only when they were perceived as
necessary, and experimenting with different national policy mixtures. Even
now, after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the emergency
over, and when in many parts of the world the epidemic is little more than a
memory, the effectiveness of these various strategies remains an open and
critical issue. The topic remains very important. Although since the end of
2020 most countries have had more weapons at their disposal to fight the
virus, COVID-19 has not yet disappeared: new local waves return to strike in
various parts of the world and generate consequent crises.1 Establishing the
best path to emerge from the pandemic remains a crucial task, also because
pandemics have been predicted to become an increasingly common issue in
future (Adamson et al., 2021; Hotez, 2021; Simpson et al., 2020).
While the literature has focused largely on impact estimations of NPIs
reducing COVID-19 cases (Alfano & Ercolano, 2020; Figueiredo et al.,
2020; Lau et al., 2020; Mégarbane et al., 2021; Riccardo et al., 2020; Sardar
et al., 2020 on lockdowns; Alfano, 2022a; Alfano & Ercolano, 2020; Amodio
et al., 2021; Xu et al., 2020 on policies aimed at closing schools; Alfano,
2022b; Fischer, 2022 on football attendance), comparative analysis of
national policy mixes remains an underexplored branch of research. This is
partly because the heterogeneity of approaches makes it hard to compare dif-
ferent countries’ policy results. Given that national governments used differ-
ent strategies and put in place different policies to safeguard public health, it
is quite complex to disentangle these effects and effectively measure what
caused what. Moreover, since COVID-19 spread at varying speeds around
the globe, countries faced crises of varying severity at different times. This
severity was probably also influenced by different climate conditions, as well

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