Despite the rise in Covid-19 in Europe, the extraordinary death toll in the United States remains among the worst in developed countries.
As of January 9, 2021, nearly 373,000 people have died from Covid-19 in the United States, with a death rate of more than 1.1 per 1,000 people, according to Our World in Data.
While there are countries with higher death rates, the US still ranks in the top 20 percent of deaths among developed countries in the world, with more than twice the death rate of mid-developed countries.
A few numbers to put that in perspective:
If the US had the same death rate as the European Union as a whole, nearly 79,000 Americans who died from Covid-19 would likely still be alive (unless they died of other reasons).
If the US had the same death rate as Germany, there would likely be more than 212,000 Americans who have died from Covid-19 still alive.
If the US had the same death rate as Canada, nearly 225,000 Americans who have died from Covid-19 would likely still be alive.
If the US had the same death rate as Australia, nearly 361,000 Americans who died from Covid-19 would likely still be alive. Less than 12,000 would have died compared to the 365,000 who actually died.
If the US had the same death rate as Japan, nearly 363,000 Americans who died from Covid-19 would likely still be alive – and fewer than 10,000 Americans would have died from the disease.
As a result of the Covid-19 waves in Europe, the US is looking relatively better than in September compared to other industrialized nations. At that time the US had seven times the death toll than the middle industrialized country. This gap has shrunk massively – twice as much.
This is not because the US did better, but because Europe has fared much worse. After Europe managed to largely suppress the coronavirus in spring and summer 2020, Europe relaxed in late summer and autumn and recorded enormous increases as a result.
The European boom has even gripped countries widely heralded as successful in their battles against Covid-19 – such as Germany, which recently reported a higher daily Covid-19 death toll than the US.
But Europe is still doing better if you look at the deaths since the pandemic began. At least he managed to suppress cases for a while – something the US couldn't. One of the main reasons the US death toll remains so high compared to other developed nations is that America suffered a huge spike in Covid-19 over the summer that other places, including much of Europe, are avoiding could.
And there are some countries that have weathered the pandemic well. These include some European nations like Denmark, Estonia, Cyprus, Finland, Norway and Iceland. The biggest success stories, however, are Australia, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Singapore, and Taiwan, which by and large have taken more aggressive government measures against the coronavirus than America.
In September, San Marino, Belgium, Spain, the UK, Italy and Sweden led the US in Covid-19 deaths per million people. But Slovenia and the Czech Republic are also ahead of America, while Spain and Sweden have fallen behind.
Our world in data
Why did the US fail so badly? Much of that is thanks to President Donald Trump. He urged the country to reopen much too early and quickly and called on states to "liberate" their economies. He renounced federal leadership and instead forced states, cities and private agencies to deal with a number of issues, particularly testing and, more recently, vaccines. He downplayed the need for masks and downright mocked people like President-elect Joe Biden who wore them. The list goes on and on.
In comparison, other executives around the world have taken Covid-19 more seriously – social distancing, testing and tracking, masking, and, if necessary, more extreme measures like bans. Despite the recent surge in the coronavirus, many countries across Europe have reacted quickly and aggressively by imposing lockdowns and slowing the spread of the virus. By comparison, the US has largely remained open, with some states still not requiring masks.
Of course, not everything went perfectly in Europe and other parts of the world. Many people and places have screwed up their response to the coronavirus, which shows that this is not an easy challenge.
But when the numbers are added up, the US remains an extraordinary failure in dealing with Covid-19.
Support Vox explanatory journalism
At Vox, we want to answer your most important questions every day and provide you and our audiences around the world with information that empowers you through understanding. Vox's work reaches more people than ever before, but our distinctive brand of explanatory journalism is consuming resources. Your financial contribution is not a donation, but it does allow our staff to continue offering free articles, videos and podcasts to everyone who needs them. Please consider contributing to Vox today, starting at $ 3.