Just how badly are the USA and Israel really doing, when adjusted for population?
From the news media in both countries, you’d say “terribly”. But mortality figures per capita tell a rather different story.
First, I went to worldometers and extracted a table of mortalities per million inhabitants. Then I whittled the list down to the 37 OECD member states. The resulting table is given below as an image. [The “ranking” refers to the original sorted list]
A few remarks are in order.
- the #1 and #3 fatality rates worldwide are actually for the microstates of San Marino and Andorra, respectively. Beware statistics of small numbers though.
- As I’ve commented before, Belgium’s chart-topping fatality rate almost certainly includes lots of people who died of causes other than COVID19, but either tested positive for COVID19 or were suspected to have been exposed.
- Even the unadjusted US figure is still only about half the Belgian one, and places the country #7 in the OECD and #9 worldwide.
- However, these numbers are badly skewed by the appalling mortality rate in greater New York City. If we drill down to US states and take NY and NJ out of the equation, mortality drops to 300 per million — which would make the US #16 worldwide behind the Dutch Antilles island of St. Maarten, and ahead of Ecuador. In the OECD it would be above Mexico.
- Germany, which is regarded as a “gold standard” in Europe for its (objective speaking) highly competent handling of the COVID crisis, still has a mortality above the world average.
- Israel, despite the hue and cry about the public health authorities and the government being rudderless now (and this is not without grounds!) still only comes at 27th place out of 37 in the OECD, and still has 2.5x lower per capita mortality than Germany! (Not to mention 1/10th of the USA and 1/20th of Belgium.) [EDIT: only four US states have lower per-capita mortality rates than Israel: sun-drenched, outdoorsy Hawaii and the thinly populated trio of Wyoming, Montana, and Alaska.]
When news media take numbers out of context, it is good to go to the source figures for some perspective.