Coronavirus deaths per capita paint a different picture


The figures below are as of March 30th. There have been more deaths in the eight days since and the per capita fatality rates keep increasing. For example the rate in Sweden after the latest figures announced today, is almost 59 deaths per million of population compared to the 10.8 it was a week ago. Many of the deaths reported today are from earlier days which had gone previously unrecorded. So the numbers have changed though the shape of the curves has not. It would seem that many European countries are at, close to, or have just passed, a peak (hopefully the only peak).

The numbers being reported by countries as “infected” is a function of the testing strategy being followed and is not really a sound measure of the spread of the coronavirus. The number of deaths being reported as due to the coronavirus are probably a better measure though even this number is distorted by

  • political considereations (for example N Korea denies any deaths and West Bengal in India reports them as deaths by other causes),
  • overestimates due to deaths by other causes being attributed to the coronavirus, and
  • underestimates in countries where coronavirus testing is lacking or haphazard,
  • variations in quality of care in different countries.

Nevertheless, the number of deaths per million of population paints a somewhat different picture than that based on number infected.

deaths per million of population

The highest fatality rates in Europe are in Italy (178), Spain, Netherlands, France Belgium and Switzerland (35). Sweden comes in at 10.8 while Germany is an outlier in Europe with a fatality rate of only 6.5 per million. By this measure, China comes in at a very low 2.38. However there is a suggestion that China has under-reported deaths by a factor of 10 (with, in some reports from the crematoriums, just Wuhan suffering some 40,000 fatalities). If true it would take China up to a death rate in the twenties per million of population.

Japan and Indonesia have fatality rates of 0.43 per million while India currently is showing a fatality rate of 0.02 per million.

The variation across the EU countries and how they correlate with different lock-down policies will be something to study when the infection wave is over. The geographical spread, or lack of spread, will also be of great interest. I would not be surprised, at first glance, if latitude and prevailing weather has had some effect. I note also that in India, anecdotal evidence is that chloroquine has been widely used as a prophylactic.


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