“the US accounts for about 4 percent of the world’s population but 22 percent of its confirmed Covid-19 deaths. So how many lives would be saved if those numbers were even? Leonhardt calculated: “about 145,000.”
Columnist Ross Douthat took issue with that approach. Arguing that “the patterns for Covid-19 fatalities often look more region-specific than country-specific,” he compared the US to a slew of countries in the Western Hemisphere, particularly in Latin America and parts of Europe. By that toll, the US doesn’t seem to do so badly, with a death rate close to that of Brazil, France, Mexico, and the United Kingdom.
But Douthat’s list, despite calling for a regional comparison, doesn’t include Canada, arguably the country most similar to the US in the Western Hemisphere and one that’s done a much better job fighting the coronavirus than the US.
So that got me wondering: What would a more comprehensive comparison look like? What would the US death toll be like if the country had the same rate of Covid-19 deaths as some other wealthy nations, accounting for population differences?”…
“peer-country death tolls really don’t look like ours. The US is doing about seven times worse than the median developed country, ranking in the bottom 20 percent for Covid-19 deaths among wealthy nations. Tens of thousands of lives have been lost as a result.”
“a lot of this is on Trump. As cases climbed in the US, the president abdicated problems with testing to local, state, and private actors; pushed states to reopen way too early to supposedly “LIBERATE” their economies; spoke negatively about masks while refusing to wear one himself; and backed unproven and even dangerous approaches to treating Covid-19, including injecting bleach. Each of these failures compounded and led to the current US death toll — and local and state governments, as hard as some tried, simply don’t have the resources to fight a pandemic on their own.
Compare that to Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, or Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. These are leaders all over the political spectrum, but they took the pandemic seriously — building up testing, advocating for mask-wearing, encouraging social distancing, or all of the above. And their countries are much better off.
There’s still time for things to go a different way. Maybe the US will somehow get its act together, avoiding another wave of infections and deaths. Maybe other developed countries will see massive second waves similar to America’s. (Spain and France, after relaxing social distancing and going easy on masking, already are.)But for now, the US has suffered a much worse Covid-19 outbreak and death toll than all but a handful of its developed peers. It’s a predictable, preventable catastrophe.”