News World In three graphs: How bad is coronavirus pandemic in the US?
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In three graphs: How bad is coronavirus pandemic in the US?

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Donald Trump is no fan of the International Criminal Court, and the US is not a member. Photo: Getty
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The coronavirus death toll in the United States has remained the highest in the world for nearly two months – and there is no sign it is slowing down.

So far, more than 100,000 Americans have died from the disease, and more than 1.7 million are confirmed to have contracted it.

All 50 states are now battling outbreaks.

But even though more people have died from COVID-19 in the US than anywhere else in the world, this doesn’t mean the country also has the highest mortality rate.

That grim title belongs to Belgium, according to statistics compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

With a population of just 11.5 million, the European country has had about 80 people in every 100,000 die during its coronavirus outbreak – the most deaths per population in the world

To put Belgium’s small population in perspective, nearly 8.4 million people live in New York City alone.


In the US, with a total population of about 330 million, nearly 30 people in every 100,000 have died – a much lower death rate than Belgium per population.

This is why US President Donald Trump much prefers to talk about America’s mortality rate over the country’s soaring death toll.

At a White House briefing in April, Mr Trump pointed to a graph showing the number of deaths relative to population size, with Belgium in first place and the US in seventh, as evidence the US was doing better than other countries at handling the virus.

A different way of counting cases

Belgium’s statistics don’t tell the whole story.

In most countries around the world, the coronavirus death toll is recorded from patients in hospital who tested positive for the coronavirus.

But Belgium has gone a step further than that.

It has also been including the deaths of non-hospitalised people who are only suspected of having the virus.

For example, in nursing homes, it has been registering deaths based on the assessment of a doctor, taking into account symptoms and if they have been in contact with confirmed cases.

Another factor to keep in mind is that the coronavirus death rate varies a lot across the US.

In New York, the worst-hit state by far, the mortality rate is close to 150 people per 100,000 – nearly double that of Belgium.

Who to trust?

It is impossible to know exactly how many people died in each country from COVID-19.

All we can do is look at the information provided to us by governments.

In cases like China, where press freedom is virtually non-existent, the Chinese Communist Party may be underreporting the scale of its outbreak.