Trump pulled out another false claim that the U.S. is actually among the best in the world in fighting the lethal coronavirus. Germany has won praise for its early and aggressive testing-and-tracing response to the pandemic. The United States has not.
All the datasets tracking COVID-19 deaths, none supports anything near Trump’s assertion. Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus death count, along with global estimates published by the Kaiser Family Foundation, Our World in Data and Worldometer prove that Trump’s claim is a blatant lie.
Deaths per 100,000 people — the per capita metric Trump used — is generally considered a valuable public health measure that helps quantify the intensity of an epidemic. In this situation, it tracks how many people have died from COVID-19 in relation to countries’ populations.
Globally, COVID-19 deaths are typically undercounted, since countries aren’t testing all the people who have been infected, let alone counting all deaths attributed to the virus. And comparing the numbers gets trickier when you place countries like Germany, which has tested large swaths of the population, against the United States, which has not.
The Hopkins death count estimates that, in the United States, 25 people per 100,000 have died of COVID-19. In Germany, meanwhile, the rate is 9 — meaning the American death rate is almost three times that of Germany. Even when compared with many other countries — including Canada, South Korea, Iran, Russia, Poland and Switzerland — the U.S. numbers don’t do very well. “We have higher levels of deaths per capita than [those] countries and many others,” said Jeffrey Shaman, a professor of environmental health sciences at Columbia University.
That’s true no matter the dataset. In fact, per Our World in Data’s estimates, the United States’ rate of COVID deaths per capita isn’t just worse than what we see in countries like Canada and South Korea. It’s also worse than the global average. As of May 12, 36.66 per million people had died of COVID for the entire world — in the United States, it was 243.76 deaths per million people.