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Dr Christopher Davis
University of Oxford
Emeritus Fellowship

The elderly, health systems and COVID-19 epidemics

The objective of my two-year Leverhulme Trust project from August 2019 was to develop my research being carried out as Professorial Research Fellow at the Oxford Institute of Population Ageing on ‘capabilities’ (education, income, enabling environment, medical care, health status) of the elderly in Russia by: (1) evaluating inequalities related to the elderly and (2) extending my investigation to China and South Korea (Davis 2018, ‘The changing capabilities of birth cohorts of the elderly in Russia during 1990–2020: Measurement using a quantitative index’, Journal of Population Ageing, Open Access: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12062-017-9179-1).

My research initially developed as planned: in September I presented my project ideas at the 4th China–UK Symposium on Social Governance in Oxford and by December had converted that talk into a book chapter; in November I visited Moscow and completed a co-authored health project report on inequalities of the elderly in Russia; and I made preliminary plans to visit China (three previous research trips) and South Korea (five trips). 

I completed a comparative article, started in May 2019, about priorities, shortages and rationing in health systems (broadly defined) in the UK and Russia during 2000–2019, which was accepted by the journal Post-Communist Economies (PCE) in February 2020. This research was supported by a health project in Russia and developed out previous work related to my 1980 PhD in Economics dissertation for Cambridge on The Economics of the Soviet Health System and comparisons of health in the USSR and UK.

The COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 both disrupted my plans for international cooperation and became the subject of my research. I revised my submitted PCE article so that it focused on the ‘initial conditions’ in 2020 of the UK and Russia health systems and started a new article about their performances during the two national epidemics. Special attention in both was given to the impacts on the elderly of COVID-19: infections, medical care, social care and mortality.

In March I revised my China–UK Symposium chapter to incorporate material about COVID-19 epidemics (published online in July). My first PCE article was finished in July and published in September (‘Priorities, shortages, and rationing in the UK and Russia national health services during 2000–2019: Initial conditions for responses to COVID-19’, Post-Communist Economies, 32(8), 969–1010, Free Access: https://doi.org/10.1080/14631377.2020.1800317). In August I prepared a chapter on the interactions of economic and health systems during epidemics for a book organised by the Korea Institute of International Economic Policy on international economic policy during the COVID-19 pandemic, which was published in December.

My second PCE article, published in April 2021, incorporated new concepts of interactions of complex systems, readiness and resilience and covered the Second Waves (‘Readiness and resilience of the health systems of the UK and Russia during COVID-19 epidemics in 2020–2021: Impacts of priorities, shortages and rationing’ Post-Communist Economies, Free Access: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14631377.2020.1867433?src= ).    

Readiness and resilience of a health system experiencing shocks of first and second waves of a major epidemic.

The Leverhulme Trust has extended my project to September 2022. My future work on the elderly and inequalities in China, Russia and South Korea now will have a COVID-19 dimension.


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