The US’s COVID-19 Death Rate Is Far Below the Rates in Italy and Spain
Imagine an ordinary person sees a headline like this over her morning coffee: “Your City Will Soon Be the Homicide Capital of the World.” But, upon further inspection, it turns out the homicide rate is actually very low. What is high is the attempted homicide rate. In the city in question, there has been a rash of assaults and attempted homicides. But for whatever reason, the number of people who actually die from these assaults remains extremely low. Perhaps this is because medical care is better. Perhaps it’s because the would-be murderers are poorly armed and not very motivated. But for whatever reason, the actual death rate is far lower than the headline implies. Now, this hypothetical city still clearly has a problem with assaults, and it would be wise to examine why. Attempted murders are not a thing to ignore. However, we could all agree the headline about homicides is quite misleading.
We frequently encounter a problem similar to this with COVID-19 reporting. News stories frequently focus on COVID-19 cases rather than death rates in their reporting. Consider this Reuters headline today: “United States could become coronavirus epicenter: WHO”
The casual readers who skims headlines is likely to take away from this the idea that the United States is following the same trajectory as countries like Spain and Italy when it comes to the COVID-19 outbreak. We have heard that death rates in Italy are alarming in much of Western Europe, and some have claimed the US will soon experience the same fate as Italy. While it is true the United States will soon pass up Italy in terms of total cases, the US is far, far below Italy in terms of its COVID-19 death rate, even if we account for the differences in the timeline.
To see these sizable differences, let’s measure COVID-19 deaths the same way we measure homicides: in terms of deaths per 100,000 population:
As of March 23, in Italy, the number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 total 9.4 per 100,000 people in Italy.
Meanwhile, in the United States, the total is 0.2 deaths per 100,000. Among to the top ten countries in terms of total cases, the US has the second-lowest rate per 100,00, behind only Germany, which has so far a remarkably small number of deaths.
At this point, some observers will say “but Italy has had an outbreak longer than the US, so we must measure in terms of the number of days since the pandemic began in that country.”
Well, if we
Article from Mises Wire