Is the U.S. Handling the COVID-19 Pandemic Better Than Europe?
The Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center keeps track of the COVID-19 pandemic data reported from most of the countries in the world. One common way to measure how countries are handling the coronavirus relative to one another is to compare their COVID-19 mortality rates per 100,000 people. In that respect, the U.S., at 57.97 per 100,000, is doing better than the Belgium, United Kingdom, Spain, Brazil, and Italy, with rates at 86.78, 62.68, 63.34, 60.85, and 58.85 respectively. On the other hand, the COVID-19 mortality rates in Sweden, France, Canada, Germany, and South Korea currently stand at 57.33, 45.93, 24.83, 11.26, and 0.67 respectively.
Another oft-cited statistic is that the U.S., with just 4 percent of the world’s population, accounts for 24 percent of the world’s diagnosed COVID-19 cases and 22 percent of the deaths attributed to the disease. Based on these figures, the U.S. has not been all that great at mitigating the pandemic.
During an interview last week on the BBC Newshour, President Trump’s new coronavirus epidemic adviser Dr. Scott Atlas more or less dismissed these figures as misleading and instead pointed to excess deaths as the better way to measure a country’s success in responding to the coronavirus. And he has a point, to some extent.
A September 1 article in Nature noted that during outbreaks of disease, researchers need to tally deaths rapidly. To do so, they usually turn to a blunt but reliable metric: excess mortality. “It’s a comparison of expected deaths with ones that actually happened, and, to many scientists, it’s the most robust way to gauge the impact of the pandemic,” explained Nature.
Using death data from 32 countries and four major cities, the Nature article observed that by the end of July, diagnosed COVID-19 deaths across the 32 countries and four major cities numbered 413,041, whereas the figure for total excess deaths stood at 593,344. A small proportion of excess deaths are an indirect result of the conditions created by the impact of the pandemic—people missing c
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