Coronavirus Updates: How the pandemic in US compares with rest of world

Coronavirus Updates: How the pandemic in US compares with rest of world
Coronavirus Updates: How the pandemic in US compares with rest of world

Two days after the US recorded its first case of coronavirus, Donald Trump said the situation was “totally under control” and assured the public it was “going to be just fine”.

Fast forward four months and the virus has spread across all 50 states, leaving a death toll of 100,000 from more than 1.6 million confirmed cases.

We’ve taken a look at how those figures compare to other countries around the world and how the situation could develop over the next few months.

The death toll in the US became the highest in the world in early April and has risen dramatically since then.

President Donald Trump initially said “50 to 60,000” people could die during the outbreak but in May he said he was hopeful the toll would be lower than 100,000. That benchmark has now been hit though and there are still about 1,000 deaths a day on average.

Rather than focus on deaths, Mr Trump has preferred to cite the mortality rate – that is the number of people that have died relative to the country’s population – as evidence that the US has dealt with the virus more effectively than some other nations.

The chart below shows the countries with the highest death tolls and, to the right, their mortality rate. You can see that by that measure there are several countries where a greater proportion of the population has died during the coronavirus outbreak.

Belgium, with a population of 11.5 million, has seen 82 people in every 100,000 die during its coronavirus outbreak while the US, with a population of around 330 million, has seen nearly 30 people in every 100,000 die.

But if you look at New York – the worst-hit state in the US – the mortality rate there is close to 150 people in every 100,000, which shows that there is a lot of variation across the US.

One of the problems with comparing countries is that many of them report deaths in different ways. Belgium, for instance, includes deaths where coronavirus was suspected of being present but was never confirmed with a test. Some US states record deaths this way, but not all.

There have also been questions over whether official data from some countries can be trusted. Critics of China in particular have accused it of under-reporting the scale of its outbreak.

Another issue is that countries could be at different stages of an outbreak. In many European countries it’s clear that daily cases numbers are coming down significantly and they are past the peak. But you can’t say the same for the US at the moment.

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