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U.S. COVID-19 Death Rates Outstrip Other Countries

Over the last five months, per capita deaths in the United States from COVID-19 and other causes have been far higher than in 18 other high-income countries, a Journal of the American Medical Association report found.

According to NPR, the study looks at per capita death rates in 2020 across 18 countries with populations larger than 5 million people and per capita gross domestic product levels over $25,000 per year, such as the United States, Germany, Israel, and Denmark. While the study breaks out COVID-19 specific deaths, it also looks at total fatalities, including those that may be due to unconfirmed COVID-19 cases or other factors—such as people not seeking medical attention for other conditions during the crisis.

Overall, deaths in the United States are more than 85 percent higher than in other countries, including Germany and Denmark, and 29 percent higher than in Sweden, which attracted widespread concern for refusing to order social restrictions or lockdowns in response to the pandemic.

Even Italy, which was hard hit in the early days of the pandemic, has a COVID-19 death rate of 9.1 per 100,000 people for May through September, compared to 27.2 per 100,000 people in the United States.

According to the authors of the report, “compared with other countries, the U.S. experienced high COVID-19-associated mortality and excess all-cause mortality into September 2020. After the first peak in early spring, U.S. death rates from COVID-19 and from all causes remained higher than even countries with high COVID-19 mortality. This may have been the result of several factors, including weak public health infrastructure and a decentralized, inconsistent U.S. response to the pandemic.”

The authors warn, however, that since late August death rates have increased in several countries, particularly as a new wave of infections crosses Europe. The World Health Organization (WHO) announced yesterday that Europe had reported more than 700,000 new coronavirus cases last week—its highest weekly total and a 36 percent increase from the previous week. In England alone, new COVID-19 cases have quadrupled in the last three weeks, and The Washington Post reported that it has more patients hospitalized now than before its March lockdown.

As of this morning, the WHO reports there have been 37,888,384 confirmed cases of COVID-19 worldwide, including 1,081,868 deaths.