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Trump’s Boast About U.S., South Korea Coronavirus Testing Misses The Mark

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[partner-box]Boasting about his administration’s response to the coronavirus disaster — and arguing the outbreak would quickly be below management — President Donald Trump claimed that latest American efforts to check extensively for COVID-19 surpass these of different nations.

“We’ve done more tests in eight days than South Korea has done in eight weeks,” Trump mentioned throughout a March 24 digital city corridor hosted by Fox News, reiterating an announcement made simply moments earlier than by Dr. Deborah Birx, the top of the White House coronavirus response. The assertion was repeated in the course of the White House briefing that night.

Trump doubled down the subsequent day, tweeting that “over an eight day span, the United States now does more testing than what South Korea (which has been a very successful tester) does over an eight week span.”

Why the comparability with South Korea? South Korea has been heralded globally for its swift response to the pandemic, which seems to have slowed its charge of recent infections. Meanwhile, a nationwide scarcity of assessments has hamstrung American efforts, leading to many individuals in danger being pressured to delay testing till they’re significantly ailing.

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With that context, we have been curious. Is the president’s declare correct? Has American testing been as strong as his assertion signifies?

We contacted the White House and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention however by no means heard again. But the numbers counsel his image is inaccurate and, extra necessary, lacking essential context to understanding the battle towards COVID-19.

The Raw Numbers

South Korea publishes a every day report of what number of assessments it has carried out. As of Tuesday, 348,582 folks had been examined, and testing started in early February. About 9,000 of these folks have been confirmed to have the virus. (The 345,582 determine consists of assessments that have been run however hadn’t but yielded outcomes.)

In the United States, it’s more durable to inform. The CDC doesn’t put out up to date, aggregated counts of assessments carried out in private and non-private labs — which is necessary to notice. Since the beginning of March, a big chunk of American-done assessments have been conducted in business — not government-run — labs.

Experts pointed us to a reputable tally that means that, on the uncooked numbers, the president’s stat is flawed.

The COVID Tracking Project, a dataset managed and up to date by volunteer journalists and scientists, estimates that, as of Tuesday, American labs had carried out a complete of about 359,000 assessments for COVID-19. That tally comes from state and native well being departments across the nation, together with testing finished in each public and business labs.

From March 15 by means of Tuesday, the United States carried out about 331,000 of these assessments, per the tracker.

The uncooked comparability, then, means that the United States’ eight-day tally falls in need of South Korea’s eight-week tally. Out of curiosity, we seemed on the March 23 knowledge for South Korea as effectively. At that time, it had run 338,036 assessments. So even when Trump was off by a day, the American determine falls brief.

And, specialists reminded us, this raw-data comparability isn’t that significant. If you wish to evaluate knowledge between the 2 nations, you’ll want to have a look at the larger image.

More Effective Comparisons

Put merely, “raw numbers are not the best metric, given population size differences,” mentioned Jennifer Kates, a world well being researcher on the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation. (Kaiser Health News is an editorially impartial program of the muse.)

That’s as a result of the United States is just a a lot bigger nation than South Korea — about 327 million folks, in contrast with about 51.5 million.

To account for that, researchers severe about evaluating the nations’ responses would modify to per capita charges of testing. That reveals the extent to which the variety of assessments carried out gauges how many individuals are susceptible to an infection.

“If a country has five people in it, of course they could only have five tests,” mentioned Dr. Robert Gallo, director of the Institute of Human Virology on the University of Maryland School of Medicine and a co-discoverer of HIV.

When you management for inhabitants, the American response compares poorly. Its tally of 359,000 assessments per 327 million folks works out to about 1,084 assessments per million. South Korea has run nearer to six,768 assessments per million.

Put one other manner, South Korea’s testing charge for coronavirus is greater than six occasions that of the American charge. To catch up, Kates famous, American labs would want to carry out 2.24 million extra assessments — not an insurmountable activity, however undoubtedly a elevate.

It’s not simply the variety of assessments carried out, both. Researchers have burdened repeatedly that the timing of when the assessments have been run can also be an enormous a part of the equation. Both nations reported their first instances on the identical day, Jan. 20.

In your complete month of February, American labs ran fewer than 1,000 coronavirus assessments, per the volunteer COVID tracker. (Government well being officers had begun sounding the alarm in January.)

By Feb. 29, South Korea had accomplished greater than 55,000 assessments, with nearly 30,000 awaiting affirmation, for a complete of greater than 80,000 assessments carried out.

“For the assertion … the U.S. has done more #COVID19 testing in the last 8 days than South Korea cumulatively, that doesn’t mean anything,” tweeted Dr. Eric Topol, a doctor and researcher. “Nearly 0 tests were done for 2 months when they were desperately needed.”

What’s Needed Now

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Many public well being researchers say the U.S. continues to be not working sufficient diagnostics every day to satisfy demand — arguing that, although there was important enchancment, labs have to be doing about 150,000 assessments per day.

Right now, the COVID tracker suggests about 65,000 assessments are being run per day. While that could be a substantial enhance from even per week in the past, it’s nonetheless effectively beneath the goal quantity.

Beyond testing, there’s the query of what occurred after outcomes have been confirmed. Patients contaminated, epidemiologists argue, must be focused, caught early and shortly separated from different folks. That’s key to stopping the unfold of the virus — and one thing that also hasn’t occurred on a big scale.

“South Korea followed up tests vigorously to support isolation and quarantine — the steps needed to reduce spread,” mentioned Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, vice dean for Public Health Practice and Community Engagement on the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore. “The U.S. has a long ways to go to develop this critical capacity.”

Our Ruling

Trump claimed that the United States has “done more tests in eight days than South Korea has done in eight weeks.”

The CDC has not put out complete knowledge on this. But impartial work on the topic suggests the comparability is flawed. In eight days, the United States carried out nearly as many assessments as South Korea did in eight weeks, however not essentially extra.

In addition, that statistic is comparatively much less necessary. The American charge of testing per capita is greater than six occasions decrease than South Korea’s. It’s definitely doable to catch up, however that hasn’t occurred but.

The president’s assertion frames the information in a manner that’s deceptive and doesn’t precisely characterize the standing of the American response to COVID-19. We charge it False.

This story may be republished at no cost (details). Boasting about his administration’s response to the coronavirus disaster — and arguing the outbreak would quickly be below management — President Donald Trump claimed that latest American efforts to check extensively for COVID-19 surpass these of different nations.

“We’ve done more tests in eight days than South Korea has done in eight weeks,” Trump mentioned throughout a March 24 digital city corridor hosted by Fox News, reiterating an announcement made simply moments earlier than by Dr. Deborah Birx, the top of the White House coronavirus response. The assertion was repeated in the course of the White House briefing that night.

Trump doubled down the subsequent day, tweeting that “over an eight day span, the United States now does more testing than what South Korea (which has been a very successful tester) does over an eight week span.”

Why the comparability with South Korea? South Korea has been heralded globally for its swift response to the pandemic, which seems to have slowed its charge of recent infections. Meanwhile, a nationwide scarcity of assessments has hamstrung American efforts, leading to many individuals in danger being pressured to delay testing till they’re significantly ailing.

With that context, we have been curious. Is the president’s declare correct? Has American testing been as strong as his assertion signifies?

We contacted the White House and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention however by no means heard again. But the numbers counsel his image is inaccurate and, extra necessary, lacking essential context to understanding the battle towards COVID-19.

The Raw Numbers

South Korea publishes a every day report of what number of assessments it has carried out. As of Tuesday, 348,582 folks had been examined, and testing started in early February. About 9,000 of these folks have been confirmed to have the virus. (The 345,582 determine consists of assessments that have been run however hadn’t but yielded outcomes.)

In the United States, it’s more durable to inform. The CDC doesn’t put out up to date, aggregated counts of assessments carried out in private and non-private labs — which is necessary to notice. Since the beginning of March, a big chunk of American-done assessments have been conducted in business — not government-run — labs.

Experts pointed us to a reputable tally that means that, on the uncooked numbers, the president’s stat is flawed.

The COVID Tracking Project, a dataset managed and up to date by volunteer journalists and scientists, estimates that, as of Tuesday, American labs had carried out a complete of about 359,000 assessments for COVID-19. That tally comes from state and native well being departments across the nation, together with testing finished in each public and business labs.

From March 15 by means of Tuesday, the United States carried out about 331,000 of these assessments, per the tracker.

The uncooked comparability, then, means that the United States’ eight-day tally falls in need of South Korea’s eight-week tally. Out of curiosity, we seemed on the March 23 knowledge for South Korea as effectively. At that time, it had run 338,036 assessments. So even when Trump was off by a day, the American determine falls brief.

And, specialists reminded us, this raw-data comparability isn’t that significant. If you wish to evaluate knowledge between the 2 nations, you’ll want to have a look at the larger image.

More Effective Comparisons

Put merely, “raw numbers are not the best metric, given population size differences,” mentioned Jennifer Kates, a world well being researcher on the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation. (Kaiser Health News is an editorially impartial program of the muse.)

That’s as a result of the United States is just a a lot bigger nation than South Korea — about 327 million folks, in contrast with about 51.5 million.

To account for that, researchers severe about evaluating the nations’ responses would modify to per capita charges of testing. That reveals the extent to which the variety of assessments carried out gauges how many individuals are susceptible to an infection.

“If a country has five people in it, of course they could only have five tests,” mentioned Dr. Robert Gallo, director of the Institute of Human Virology on the University of Maryland School of Medicine and a co-discoverer of HIV.

When you management for inhabitants, the American response compares poorly. Its tally of 359,000 assessments per 327 million folks works out to about 1,084 assessments per million. South Korea has run nearer to six,768 assessments per million.

Put one other manner, South Korea’s testing charge for coronavirus is greater than six occasions that of the American charge. To catch up, Kates famous, American labs would want to carry out 2.24 million extra assessments — not an insurmountable activity, however undoubtedly a elevate.

It’s not simply the variety of assessments carried out, both. Researchers have burdened repeatedly that the timing of when the assessments have been run can also be an enormous a part of the equation. Both nations reported their first instances on the identical day, Jan. 20.

In your complete month of February, American labs ran fewer than 1,000 coronavirus assessments, per the volunteer COVID tracker. (Government well being officers had begun sounding the alarm in January.)

By Feb. 29, South Korea had accomplished greater than 55,000 assessments, with nearly 30,000 awaiting affirmation, for a complete of greater than 80,000 assessments carried out.

“For the assertion … the U.S. has done more #COVID19 testing in the last 8 days than South Korea cumulatively, that doesn’t mean anything,” tweeted Dr. Eric Topol, a doctor and researcher. “Nearly 0 tests were done for 2 months when they were desperately needed.”

What’s Needed Now

Many public well being researchers say the U.S. continues to be not working sufficient diagnostics every day to satisfy demand — arguing that, although there was important enchancment, labs have to be doing about 150,000 assessments per day.

Right now, the COVID tracker suggests about 65,000 assessments are being run per day. While that could be a substantial enhance from even per week in the past, it’s nonetheless effectively beneath the goal quantity.

Beyond testing, there’s the query of what occurred after outcomes have been confirmed. Patients contaminated, epidemiologists argue, must be focused, caught early and shortly separated from different folks. That’s key to stopping the unfold of the virus — and one thing that also hasn’t occurred on a big scale.

“South Korea followed up tests vigorously to support isolation and quarantine — the steps needed to reduce spread,” mentioned Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, vice dean for Public Health Practice and Community Engagement on the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore. “The U.S. has a long ways to go to develop this critical capacity.”

Our Ruling

Trump claimed that the United States has “done more tests in eight days than South Korea has done in eight weeks.”

The CDC has not put out complete knowledge on this. But impartial work on the topic suggests the comparability is flawed. In eight days, the United States carried out nearly as many assessments as South Korea did in eight weeks, however not essentially extra.

In addition, that statistic is comparatively much less necessary. The American charge of testing per capita is greater than six occasions decrease than South Korea’s. It’s definitely doable to catch up, however that hasn’t occurred but.

The president’s assertion frames the information in a manner that’s deceptive and doesn’t precisely characterize the standing of the American response to COVID-19. We charge it False.

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