One way to compare Covid-19 deaths is how may people die per million of population.
The New York Times recently ran a story that suggests that the more advanced western nations had much higher rates of death-per-million than did under-developed nations – especially the United States. Whoever did the Times analysis placed America in the number one worst position. But was it a fair analysis – or just more media disinformation designed to conform to pre-established prejudicial narratives?
Using deaths-per-million, the Times reported Britain with 1862 deaths, Italy (1651), the United States (1580), Mexico (1492), France (1319), Brazil (1252), Germany (865), and so forth.
Conversely, they showed selected Asian and Sub-Saharan African nations at much lower numbers – Indonesia (137), India (115), Japan (65), Ethiopia (22), China (3), Thailand (1) and Vietnam (0).
Just looking at the numbers above, how did the Times place America as the number one worst if we are third in the Times own count?
Simple. The Times arbitrarily ranked the nations by average income. That automatically puts America in the undesirable first and worst position. The only reason they may have done that is to add fodder to their ceaseless and dubious narrative that President Trump and Republicans mishandled the crisis this past year. If not, the Times needs to do some ‘splainin.’
Ranking by deaths-per-million may seem logical on the surface, but it creates all sorts of confusing anomalies. If you look at the official government statistics, the United States is THIRD in the number of deaths-per-million. But that is not how the Times made it look. The number one nation is … drum roll please … Portugal with a total of 1628 deaths-per-million. If you find that surprising, you will be shocked to learn that the number two spot belongs to Bosnia/Herzegovina, with 1621 deaths.
According to the Times, Vietnam had zero deaths-per-million, even though more than 30 people died in that Southeast Asian nation. Of course, every nation with a very small population had zero deaths-per-million. In fact, there are four nations – besides Vietnam – that have experienced deaths that – according to the Times methodology – had zero deaths-per-million. They are Mongolia, Taiwan, Tanzania and Burundi.
Despite the Times incomplete and flawed analysis, there IS a real difference in the death rates.
The more advanced nations do appear to have more deaths-per-capita than the Asian and African nations.
One reason is that the numbers of some nations may be inaccurate – intentionally manipulated or merely due to inadequate counting procedures. A prime example is China. Only the Chinese leaders seem to believe their official three-deaths-per-million figure – and probably not even them. In some third-world nations, there is just no way of knowing what caused deaths in remote communities – or even an established means of counting them if they were Covid-19 deaths.
Experts also note that advanced nations have a large portion of the most vulnerable folks confined to nursing homes and senior facilities – where the virus can run rampant. The United States has seen many examples of outbreaks in such institutions. It is the basis of a major scandal involving Governor Andrew Cuomo and the tens-of-thousands of deaths in New York nursing homes.
Then there is another factor that even the Times notes – but does not calculate into their general analysis. Thanks to modern medicine, America has a HIGH population in the over-65 high-risk category – 16 percent of our population, in fact. For the European Union, that figure is 20 percent.
Not so in many third-world nations. They have younger populations – less likely to die from Covid-19 – because folks die off younger for a lot of other reasons. In Sub-Saharan Africa, the 65-plus population is only 3 percent – approximately one-fifth of the United States.
To understand just how the age of the population impacts on the death rate, you need to look at the peak American Covid-19 deaths by age, according to the official Center for Disease Control (CDC) statistics.
Here is the peak or highest level of weekly deaths according to the CDC. That is the PEAK week – not an average week.
1 to 4 2
4 to 14 5
15 to 24 29
25 to 34 135
35 to 44 347
45 to 54 1062
55 to 64 2706
65 to 74 5252
75 to 84 6876
85 plus 7454
There are two significant observations to be made from the analysis of the peak death rates. The total deaths of ALL those below the high-risk age of 65-plus is 4286 – lower than any one of the three over-65 categories. And … the high-risk age group represents 82 percent of ALL the Covid-19 deaths. Another way to look at it is that 60 percent of those who died from Covid-19 had already exceeded the life expectancy of an American – roughly around 75 years. Me included.
America – and more advanced nations – have a much higher rate of old folks thanks to great medicine and healthy lifestyles. Couple that with congregating them in tight-knit communities and what do you get? Disproportionately, a lot more Covid-19 deaths.
We can all agree that most Americans have paid a very high price to save our most senior seniors. The big question we are grappling with as a nation is – was it not enough or was it too much? We are acting on that question every day – even as we pretend to avoid it.
As far as the Times analysis is concerned – figures do not lie, but liars do figure.
So, there ‘tis.