The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak in North, Central, and South America has become the epicenter of the current pandemic. We have suggested previously that the infection rate of this virus might be lower in people living at high altitude (over 2,500 m) compared to that in the lowlands. Based on data from official sources, we performed a new epidemiological analysis of the development of the pandemic in 23 countries on the American continent as of May 23, 2020. Our results confirm our previous finding, further showing that the incidence of COVID-19 on the American continent decreases significantly starting at 1,000 m above sea level (masl). Moreover, epidemiological modeling indicates that the virus transmission rate capacity is lower in the highlands (>1,000 masl) than in the lowlands (<1,000 masl). Finally, evaluating the differences in the recovery percentage of patients, the death-to-case ratio, and the theoretical fraction of undiagnosed cases, we found that the severity of COVID-19 is also decreased above 1,000 m. We conclude that the impact of the COVID-19 decreases significantly with altitude.
Competing Interest Statement
The authors have declared no competing interest.
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Raw, normalized, and adjusted data of COVID-19 cases are available and registered at figshare. Raw epidemiological daily data of COVID-19 of Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru are available and registered at figshare.