Experts Call Covid-19 not Pandemic, but Syndemic

corona virus

Several scientists around the world have described the corona virus outbreak that causes Covid-19 as a syndrome, not a pandemic.

Editor-in-Chief of the scientific journal The Lancet, Richard Horton, explained that a syndemic is an attempt to unite synergy and a pandemic.

A syndrome can occur when two or more diseases interact, causing a devastating effect that is greater than the number of victims of the two diseases.

Epidemiologist & Pandemic from Griffith University Australia, Dicky Budiman, said a syndrome is a collection or event of two or more pandemics or epidemics simultaneously or sequentially that worsens the progosis (prediction of disease progression).

“It also can be an occurrence of a group of diseases in a population with biological interactions, which worsen the prognosis and burden of existing diseases,” Dicky said.

The followings are the differences between an epidemic, a pandemic, an endemic, and a syndemic:


Diseases that spread quickly in certain areas.


A pandemic is an epidemic that affects various parts of the world at the same time. Previously, Covid-19 was classified in this category. However, because the impact is greater, experts are now categorizing this disease as a syndrome.


Diseases that appear in certain countries or regions within a certain period of time, usually last up to a matter of years, for instance chicken pox and malaria.


It stands for synergy and pandemic, which causes losses greater than the number of victims of the disease itself. For example, the combination of Covid-19 with patient congenital diseases, such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease, as quoted by Marca.

Furthermore, Horton said the SARS-CoV-2 corona virus outbreak was a syndicate, because, Covid-19 interacts with other non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, cancer, heart problems. Even in a social and environmental context, Covid-19 also interacts with a dense and slum population which indicates economic inequality.

“Syndemics are characterized by biological and social interactions between conditions and circumstances. Interactions that increase a person’s susceptibility to harm or worsen health outcomes,” Horton said.

The idea of ​​a syndrome was firstly conceived by Merrill Singer, an American medical anthropologist, in the 1990s. Writing in The Lancet in 2017, Singer argued that the syndemic approach reveals biological and social interactions that are important for health prognosis, treatment, and policy.

For Horton, Covid-19 in the eyes of the syndrome can make holistic or comprehensive handling. For him, overcoming Covid-19 means overcoming hypertension, obesity, diabetes, chronic cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, and cancer.

Furthermore, Horton also revealed the syndrome of measuring Covid-19 in terms of social inequality could lead to poor sanitation, minimal immunization, and malnutrition problems that could increase the transmission and death rate of Covid-19.

“Approaching Covid-19 as a syndrome will invite a bigger vision, which includes education, employment, housing, food and the environment,” Horton said as quoted by The Lancet.