“We’ve tested more than every country combined.”
— President Donald Trump at White House press briefing on April 27, 2020
This story was produced in partnership with PolitiFact.
This story may be republished at no cost (details). Responding to weeks of criticism over his administration’s COVID-19 response, President Donald Trump claimed at a White House briefing that the United States has effectively surpassed different international locations in testing folks for the virus.
“We’ve tested more than every country combined,” Trump said April 27.
It was a variation on claims he had made April 24, in addition to on Twitter the day after — when he stated the United States had examined “more than any other country in the World, and even more than all major countries combined.”
The president has made a habit of exaggerating the United States’ capacity for COVID-19 diagnostic testing. But the well being system has ramped up its testing since its sluggish begin through the first weeks of the American outbreak. So we wished to test again. How many individuals right here have been examined? And has the U.S. examined extra folks than “every country combined”?
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We emailed the White House for remark however by no means heard again, so we turned to the information. Trump’s declare didn’t stand as much as scrutiny.
In uncooked numbers, the United States has examined extra folks than every other particular person nation — however nowhere close to greater than “every country combined” or, as he stated in his tweet, greater than “all major countries combined.”
Regardless, uncooked take a look at numbers aren’t a significant metric in gauging the nation’s coronavirus response. When you think about inhabitants measurement — which specialists say is important in understanding how effectively we’re doing — the U.S. nonetheless falls quick.
All of them place the U.S. whole above 5 million assessments — the figures vary between 5.59 and 5.7 million. And it’s appropriate that no different nation has run so many diagnostic assessments. But that’s the place any semblance of accuracy ends.
A White House report on international testing — which sources its numbers from Our World in Data — notes that the United States has carried out extra testing than the mixed totals of Australia, Austria, Canada, France, India, Italy, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Sweden and the United Kingdom. (That addition checks out.)
But these are hardly all of the world’s “major countries” — not to mention “every country.” And to argue the listing is exhaustive — particularly when Germany and Spain are amongst Europe’s greatest economies, Russia is clearly a serious participant on the world stage and when Germany’s strong testing technique has been credited with its low coronavirus loss of life fee — is absurd, specialists stated.
And if you take a look at European international locations alone — which once more, is much in need of what he claimed — Trump’s comparability shortly falls aside.
The Worldometer knowledge reveals that, if you add up the variety of assessments run in Russia, Germany and Italy, the full lands round 6.72 million. You may additionally tally the variety of assessments run in Spain, Italy, France, Germany and the U.Ok. Both Worldometer and Our World in Data place that whole above 6 million. Either means, it’s greater than what the U.S. has carried out.
Big image, a very exhaustive sum of testing by “every country” and even “all major countries” would generate greater numbers.
Tweet by President Donald Trump, April 25, 2020.
YouTube, Donald Trump Signs Coronavirus Stimulus Bill at The White House, April 24, 2020.
COVID Tracking Project, U.S. Historical Data, accessed April 28, 2020.
Email interview with William Hanage, affiliate professor of epidemiology on the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, April 28, 2020.
Email interview with Jennifer Kates, senior vp and director of Global Health & HIV Policy, Kaiser Family Foundation, April 28, 2020.
Our World in Data, “Total Covid-19 Tests,” accessed April 28, 2020.
Kaiser Health News-PolitiFact, “Donald Trump’s Comparison of US, South Korea Coronavirus Testing Is Wrong. Here’s Why,” March 25, 2020.
PolitiFact, “Donald Trump Wrong About COVID-19 Testing On Airplanes, Trains,” April 6, 2020.
PolitiFact, “Trump Vowed to Bring Drive-Thru COVID-19 Test Sites to Store Parking Lots. Where Does That Stand?” April 9, 2020.
The New York Times, “A German Exception? Why the Country’s Coronavirus Death Rate Is Low,” April four, 2020.
Worldometer, “Reported Cases and Deaths by Country, Territory, or Conveyance,” accessed April 28, 2020.
White House, “Opening Up America Again,” April 25, 2020.
A Meaningful Metric?
Trump can be fixating on the incorrect figures, international well being specialists stated.
“The highest number of raw tests in and of itself is not meaningful for any particular country or location within a country,” stated Jennifer Kates, a vp on the Kaiser Family Foundation. (Kaiser Health News is an editorially unbiased program of the inspiration.)
The United States has a far greater inhabitants than most of the “major countries” Trump typically mentions. So it may have run way more assessments however nonetheless have a a lot bigger burden forward than do nations like Germany, France or Canada.
There are different helpful metrics: for one, how many individuals examined optimistic for COVID-19 in contrast with the general variety of folks examined. Another helpful measure is the per capita fee of testing, or the proportion of the nation’s inhabitants that has been examined for the virus.
On each counts, the United States nonetheless underperforms.
Hanage identified that Germany, Ireland, Belgium and Canada have all examined a a lot bigger proportion of the inhabitants than the United States has.
Arguably the extra vital metric, Hanage stated, is the proportion of optimistic take a look at outcomes. A low proportion signifies a nation is aggressively testing, whereas the next proportion suggests the nation is testing solely very sick folks — rising the chance that its monitoring system is lacking circumstances of an infection, undercounting how many individuals are COVID-positive. And by this measure, the United States fares far worse than various international locations, together with Canada and Germany.
As Kates put it, “increasing the number of tests is important, but a raw number of tests doesn’t tell you much” about what’s wanted, or how effectively the nation is faring.
Trump claimed that the United States has “tested more than every country combined.”
There is not any affordable approach to conclude that the American system has run extra diagnostics than “all other major countries combined.” Just by including up a number of different nations’ totals, you’ll be able to shortly see Trump’s declare collapse.
Plus, specializing in the 5 million determine distracts from the actual subject — by any significant metric of diagnosing and monitoring, the United States continues to be effectively behind international locations like Germany and Canada.
The president’s declare is just not solely inaccurate but in addition ridiculous. We fee it Pants on Fire.
Shefali Luthra: ShefaliL@kff.org”>ShefaliL@kff.org, @Shefalil