President Donald Trump claimed incorrectly on Monday that the US’s coronavirus mortality rate was among the lowest in the world.
“The Mortality Rate for the China Virus in the US is just about the LOWEST IN THE WORLD,” Mr Trump tweeted on Monday.
The president’s tweets punctuated an earlier message delivered by the White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany in which she claimed the world was looking to the US as a “leader in Covid-19.”
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“Because the chart I showed you where you have the mortality rate in Italy and UK up here and across Europe, and you have the United States at a low case mortality rate, it’s because of the extraordinary work that we’ve done on therapeutics and getting PPE and leading on ventilators,” Ms McEnany said.
Calculating coronavirus death rates accurately is difficult because many mild or asymptomatic cases go unreported and testing is still relatively limited in the US. Even with those disclaimers in place, however, Mr Trump’s claim that the US has the lowest death rate remains incorrect. There are at least 14 other countries with death rates lower than that of the US.
Johns Hopkins University maintains a mortality analysis comparing the coronavirus death rates between countries.
When examining death rates based on the case-to-death ratio, the UK has the highest death rate with 15.4 per cent of Covid-19 cases resulting in fatalities. According to the graph, the US has a much lower case-to-death ratio – 4.4 per cent – but is still higher than other high population countries like Brazil, Pakistan and, and India.
When the countries are re-ranked in order of the number of deaths per 100,00 people, the US shoots higher, with a 39.82 per cent mortality rate per 100,000 people.
European countries hit hard by the virus top the list. Belgium’s death rate per 100,000 people is 85.57 per cent, and Spain’s is 60.76 per cent. Sweden’s death rate per 100,000 people is 53.35 per cent and France’s is 44.67 per cent.
Ireland, the Netherlands, Chile, Peru, Brazil, Ecuador, Mexico, Canada, Switzerland, Germany, Russia, Turkey, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Finland, Norway, Poland and Israel – among others – all have lower proportional death rates than the US.
When adjusted for case-to-death ratios, most – though not all – of these countries also have lower mortality rates than the US. Notable exceptions are Hungary – with a 14.1 per cent case-to-death ratio – and Finland, with a 4.5 per cent case-to-death ratio.
Speaking to CNN, Columbia epidemiologist Elizabeth Radin said she had seen no evidence suggesting the US’s death rate was among the lowest in the world.
“To be sure, estimates for all countries are subject to measurement error due to inaccurate reporting or attribution of deaths and/or under identification of cases due to limited testing,” Ms Radin said. “Additionally, data from some countries may be more accurate or complete than others. I have not seen other reliable estimates that suggest the case fatality rate or deaths per population are uniquely low in the United States compared to other countries.”