“Germany and the United States are the two best in deaths per 100,000 people, which, frankly, to me, that’s perhaps the most important number there is.”
— President Donald Trump in feedback throughout a Rose Garden press briefing on May 11.
Following weeks of criticism over his administration’s COVID-19 response, President Donald Trump pulled out new statistics to say the nation is definitely among the many greatest on the planet in combating the deadly coronavirus.
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“Germany and the United States are the two best in deaths per 100,000 people, which, frankly, to me, that’s perhaps the most important number there is,” Trump mentioned at a May 11 Rose Garden press briefing.
We’ve adopted the numbers intently on this. Germany has received reward for its early and aggressive testing-and-tracing response to the pandemic. The United States has not.
With that in thoughts, we questioned: Are these international locations so comparable? And are they actually the “two best”?
We contacted the White House to seek out out the idea for the president’s assertion and by no means heard again. But of all of the datasets monitoring COVID-19 deaths, none helps something close to Trump’s assertion.
And once you take a look at the numbers on which specialists rely, Trump’s declare is at greatest deceptive. The United States’ fee of COVID deaths per capita is healthier than many international locations — however in no universe is it one among “the two best.”
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Deaths per 100,000 individuals — the per capita metric Trump used — is mostly thought of a precious public well being measure that helps quantify the depth of an epidemic. In this example, it tracks how many individuals have died from COVID-19 in relation to international locations’ populations.
It’s an imperfect measure, to make certain. Globally, COVID-19 deaths are usually undercounted, since international locations aren’t testing all of the individuals who have been contaminated, not to mention counting all deaths attributed to the virus. And evaluating the numbers will get trickier once you place international locations like Germany, which has examined giant swaths of the inhabitants, in opposition to the United States, which has not.
But even when evaluating apples to oranges, Trump’s declare inflated simply how effectively the United States has carried out.
“It is not supported by the facts,” mentioned Jennifer Kates, a senior vp on the Kaiser Family Foundation.
We checked out 4 credible estimates, all of which have been really useful by well being researchers: Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus demise depend, together with world estimates revealed by the Kaiser Family Foundation, Our World in Data and Worldometer. (Kaiser Health News is an editorially impartial program of the Kaiser Family Foundation.)
The Hopkins death count estimates that, within the United States, 24.66 individuals per 100,000 have died of COVID-19, as of Tuesday. In Germany, in the meantime, the speed is 9.24 — that means the American demise fee is 2.5 instances that of Germany.
And that’s solely a part of the problem.
When in contrast with many different international locations — together with Canada, South Korea, Iran, Russia, Poland and Switzerland — the U.S. numbers don’t do very effectively. “We have higher levels of deaths per capita than [those] countries and many others,” mentioned Jeffrey Shaman, a professor of environmental well being sciences at Columbia University.
That’s true irrespective of the dataset. The United States performs higher than international locations like Spain and Italy, however nonetheless far worse than Germany and worse than quite a few different international locations.
In truth, per Our World in Data’s estimates, the United States’ fee of COVID deaths per capita isn’t simply worse than what we see in international locations like Canada and South Korea. It’s additionally worse than the worldwide common. As of May 12, 36.66 per million individuals had died of COVID for the whole world — within the United States, it was 243.76 deaths per million individuals.
Remarks by President Donald Trump, May 11, 2020.
Email interview with Jennifer Kates, senior vp and director of Global Health & HIV Policy on the Kaiser Family Foundation, May 12, 2020.
Email interview with Lawrence Gostin, a legislation professor at Georgetown University, May 12, 2020.
Email interview with Jeffrey Shaman, professor of environmental well being sciences at Columbia University, May 12, 2020.
Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center, “Mortality Analyses,” accessed May 12, 2020.
Kaiser Family Foundation, “COVID-19 Tracker,” May 12, 2020.
Our World in Data, “Total Confirmed COVID-19 Deaths Per Million People,” accessed May 12, 2020.
Worldometer, “Reported Cases and Deaths by Country, Territory, or Conveyance,” accessed May 12, 2020.
There is one other approach to take a look at the numbers, Kates mentioned. Instead of the cumulative quantity of people that have died per capita because the pandemic started, one can think about whether or not the United States is performing higher in the case of current deaths. If American numbers have been much like that of Germany inside a selected window of time, it will recommend that the United States is approaching the same level in efforts to alleviate the disaster.
Even then, the United States falls quick. As of May 12, quite a few international locations, together with Canada, France, Germany, Russia and Italy, had fewer each day deaths per capita based mostly on a seven-day common than did the U.S. — suggesting that the dangers listed below are nonetheless higher than they’re in these nations.
So, huge image? It is deceptive to recommend the United States and Germany are in the identical league, particularly in the case of COVID deaths per capita. It’s flat-out unfaithful to recommend that the United States is likely one of the “two best,” when numerous different nations are seeing far decrease demise charges per 100,000 individuals.
“The claim is false,” Shaman mentioned.
Trump claimed that, in the case of COVID-19 fatalities, “Germany and the United States are the two best in deaths per 100,000 people.”
This is unfaithful. While the metric Trump highlighted is vital, there are numerous international locations performing much better than the United States on COVID deaths per capita. And it’s deceptive at greatest to categorize the American fatality depend in the identical group as Germany’s; Germany’s numbers are higher.
We fee this declare False.
Shefali Luthra: ShefaliL@kff.org”>ShefaliL@kff.org, @Shefalil