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LETTER: Virus statistics can be misleading

LETTER: Virus statistics can be misleading

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I hate to see the coronavirus being used as a political weapon. I repeatedly hear “The U.S. has just 4% of the world’s population but 20% of the deaths”—used as proof that President Trump has one of the worst coronavirus records in the world.

But the statistic being quoted is misleading, and we rarely hear of other statistics that deserve to be considered.

Sadly, the U.S. has been hit hard, with 220,000 deaths to date. But we are in the middle of the pack of the 20 hardest hit countries. Those other 19 countries have 10% of the world’s population, but nearly 50% of the deaths. That’s as bad as the U.S.

The U.S. is typical of Western countries (Western Europe, North and South America). We only look bad when compared to Asia and Africa, which have reported just 40 deaths/million. That doesn’t even rise to the level of a pandemic. (The causes of the low death counts from China, India and Africa are yet to be determined.)

Also, consider differences between states. The six hardest-hit states have 1,585 deaths per million. The other 44 states have 505 per million.

By comparison: Western Europe – 450 deaths/million; and Western Europe other than Germany – 535; North America other than the 44 states – 590; South America – 625. And 44 states of the Union – 505. Clearly, most of America is not terrible when compared to the western world.

The 44 states have 20% of the population of the Western world, and 18% of the coronavirus deaths—so slightly better than average.

So let’s stop using the pain and suffering of millions of Americans for political gain, and let’s stop quoting misleading statistics.

Chris Lattin


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