Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Why the Low US Death Rate?

Is the US Covid-19 (relatively low) death rate just because we're further back in the infection timeline?


David in Cal said...

I'm afraid the reason may be large scale under-reporting of cases by some countries. If so, the true number of worldwide cases would be a lot higher than what's being reported.

OTOH maybe it's exceptional medical care in the US.


David in Cal said...

BTW the number of worldwide cases is now growing faster than exponentially. It's a concave curve on the log scale. This is frightening. Looks like it will go from 100,000 to 1 million in less than a month. And, from 1 million to 10 million even faster. Ugh!

If chloroquine or some other medicine proves to be effective, millions of units will be needed. There could be worldwide shortages, since the demand would be huge. I hope someone is dealing with this potential problem.


Ned said...

I don't think there's a single easy answer to that, DA. It's a mix of several things:

(1) As you note, USA is still in an earlier stage; death rate is increasing as pandemic progresses.

(2) USA may be inconsistent at delivering routine care, but does excel at acute/critical care (this will change when numbers get too high).

(3) USA has a younger median age than Italy & other Euro countries.

(4) The "rest of the world" statistics are dominated by countries with very large numbers of cases & deaths. Some of those countries appear to have de-emphasized broader-scale testing once the situation became critical, because thousands of new patients are arriving at hospitals daily and it's all they can do to deal with critical cases. The people who are tested are disproportionately in bad shape.

(5) Probably a bunch of other reasons we could come up with.

David Appell said...

David, that was my first thought too. But if US cases are being underreported -- viz there are more cases than reported -- then the death rate would be even lower, because the denominator would be higher.

Presumably there's a lot less uncertainty about the number of deaths.

William M. Connolley said...

Your massively expensive healthcare is actually good at stopping people dying?

Entropic man said...

Case numbers in the US are growing exceptionally fast.

Deaths lag cases by 2-3 weeks. If the US case number increase is very fast by comparison with other countries the death rate will appear relatively low. This will only be temporary. You will see the death accelerate.

Ned said...

Your massively expensive healthcare is actually good at stopping people dying?

It can be, when it wants to be. In other cases we seem to have trouble stopping people from dying.

Layzej said...

It should do well in this case given the number of ICU beds.

Layzej said...

For example, Germany has a similar number of ICU beds, and shows deaths/total = 0.55%. Even when you look at deaths/recovered they have only 5.8%. Once the USA gets a handle on how many are infected we may start to see similar numbers in USA.

On the other hand, Belgium has a similar number of ICU beds and shows 3.61% and 32.5%, but with only 4,937 recorded infections, it seems likely they are not doing a good job of tracking infections.