Belgium's Coronavirus Death Rate Surpasses Italy's

In the meantime, neighboring Netherlands, which a few weeks ago had a similar rate to Belgium's, now has half of Belgium's.


I don't know why this is happening (different initial infection patterns? different containment policies? different treatment policies? different healthcare quality? different reporting practices?), but I thought I'd note it. Spain is at 374 deaths per million, Belgium at 337, Italy at 329, France at 221, UK at 167, Netherlands at 165 (Worldometer data). By way of comparison, US is at 67.

[UPDATE, Apr. 13, 2020, 7:45 pm: The Italy count has gone up to 338 during the day because of newly reported data, so Belgium is still barely behind Italy, but given Belgium's and Italy's pace (Belgium has recently been having more than half as many daily coronavirus deaths as Italy, with 1/5 of the population of Italy), it seems certain that tomorrow Belgium will surpass Italy for good.

FURTHER UPDATE, Apr. 14, 2020, 7:30 am: Belgium is now at 359, and though the Italy count hasn't yet been updated today, it seems pretty clear from the recent pace that Italy's will be below that.]

NEXT: Should Congress Preempt Coronavirus Liability for Businesses That Reopen?

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  1. Possibly something to do with government healthcare?

    1. My first thought as well.

    2. More likely to do with reporting standards. The definition of “COVID-19 related death” is so loose as to be nearly undefined. Every jurisdiction is using a different standard.

      1. I’m sure throughout the EU, they’re using common standard

        1. Nope. Each country has its own. This caught the bureaucracy flat footed with the speed of the pandemic.

        2. Sarcasm? I have to ask. I admit to often being sarcasm-impaired.

          If you were serious, the reporting available so far suggests that no they are not using a common standard.

  2. I am supremely confident that the discrepancy is best explained by whatever explanation confirms my priors. However, to the extent the data does not confirm any of my priors, it’s pretty obviously just noise.

    1. It’s not just noise, but it’s not real accurate either. We really have to see what the overall excess death rate is before coming to a conclusion as to the effect of the coronavirus on mortality.

      1. True. We will have to know something before we can know it.

        1. My point is that:

          1. There are Covid-19 deaths that are unrecorded because not all those who die are tested.

          2. To the extent Covid-19 is overloading the medical system there are deaths from other medical causes that nonetheless should be attributed to Covid-19 when measuring the impact of the disease.

          So the actual total mortality is probably much greater than these reported figures.

          1. How does “the actual total mortality is probably much greater than these reported figures” follow from 1 and 2? 1 is speculation about a probably true phenomenon but in order for it to “probably” increase total mortality “much greater” than reported, you’d have to know how much, versus how much over-counting, etc. You don’t just take every possible outcome and graduate it to a “probably” with “much greater” effects on the outcome.

            2 is expressly conditional “To the extent…”. To the extent this phenomenon is real (which I suspect it is), it isn’t well-documented and so we don’t have the data, yet. (Unless you do, but if you did, you would have said “Because” rather than “To the extent”.) And, again, you’d have to know both the extent to which this is true (how many actual deaths caused by overwhelmed resources) and the number of overreported deaths, before you could conclude “probably . . . much greater”.

            While it’s certainly possible that the total mortality is “much greater” than reported figures, I’m not aware of any expert or study purporting to make that a “probably”, much less “probably . . . much greater”. If you have the goods, please help share the spread of useful information by providing links.

            1. We will never know the exact mortality figures. But those trotting out flu deaths from previous years and comparing them to COVID 19 deaths have no idea what they are talking about. Right now, we have a real-time count of COVID-19 deaths but it is almost certainly undercounting as statistical analysis will need to be done later to figure out the real numbers. In the case of the flu, the numbers are not counted in real time, but are done after-the-fact and concluded 2 years later. I am positive that COVID 19 deaths, using these methods, will turn up many, many more deaths. Note, also, the studies from Italy showing unexplained deaths being much, much higher year-over-year right now (albeit the studies are preliminary). From the CDC website:

              The methods to estimate the annual number of influenza-associated deaths have been described in detail elsewhere. The model uses a ratio of deaths-to-hospitalizations in order to estimate the total influenza-associated deaths from the estimated number of influenza-associated hospitalizations.

              We first look at how many in-hospital deaths were observed in FluSurv-NET. The in-hospital deaths are adjusted for under-detection of influenza using methods similar to those described above for hospitalizations using data on the frequency and sensitivity of influenza testing. Second, because not all deaths related to influenza occur in the hospital, we use death certificate data to estimate how likely deaths are to occur outside the hospital. We look at death certificates that have pneumonia or influenza causes (P&I), other respiratory and circulatory causes (R&C), or other non-respiratory, non-circulatory causes of death, because deaths related to influenza may not have influenza listed as a cause of death. We use information on the causes of death from FluSurv-NET to determine the mixture of P&I, R&C, and other coded deaths to include in our investigation of death certificate data. Finally, once we estimate the proportion of influenza-associated deaths that occurred outside of the hospital, we can estimate the deaths-to-hospitalization ratio.

              Data needed to estimate influenza-associated deaths may lag for up to two years after the season ends. When this is not yet available for the season being estimated, we adjust based on values observed in prior seasons (e.g., the 2010-2011 season through the 2016-2017 season) and update the estimates when more current data become available.

              1. “Right now, we have a real-time count of COVID-19 deaths but it is almost certainly undercounting as statistical analysis will need to be done later to figure out the real numbers.”

                Right, but in order to know whether it is undercounting in a statistically significant way, we’d need to have an estimate of the overcounting as well. I would rather defer to epidemiologists’ expertise rather than your confidence.

                1. I would rather defer to epidemiologists’ expertise rather than your confidence.

                  My “confidence” is perhaps being overestimated. Yes, do listen to epidemiologists. I have a good friend who is one and he is who pointed this out to me. But obviously, don’t listen to anonymous commenters on Internet.

                  1. In addition to not listening to anonymous commenters on the Internet, I also generally don’t defer to their anonymous expert friends they tell me about. If your good friend published something outside of just telling you about it, I’d appreciate you posting a link.

                    1. Might want to improve your reading comprehension. I was specfically telling you not to defer to me (and obviously my friends) as I am an “anonymous commenter on the Internet” – that said, I suspect if you do your research you will also conclude that it is extremely likely that COVID-19 cases are being underreported in the US and Europe (and obviously in China where no one seems to have died from it in the last month and various other totalitarian places).

                    2. Meant “deaths” not cases (which I think all would agree are underreported because we are only seeing people tested).

                2. I’m not asking anyone to “defer” to me. I expressed an opinion based on my reading of what is going on.

                  I’m not claiming that epidemiologists are doing anything wrong, just describing two things that are happening that would suggest the counts are low.

                  I also maintain that “deaths attributable to Covid-19” has at least two useful definitions. The first is deaths caused medically by the virus. The second is those plus “collateral damage,” – deaths caused by medical system overload due to the virus. Both are meaningful.

            2. Unless you can say that all decedents are being tested for Covid-19 it is impossible that there are not deaths due to the disease which are not being counted.

              Death rates in NYC seem to be double or more normal rates. These numbers will, per the linked article, likely increase as better data becomes available.

              I’m not aware of data from elsewhere but there have been reports of unusually large excess deaths some places in Italy.

              1. “Unless you can say that all decedents are being tested for Covid-19 it is impossible that there are not deaths due to the disease which are not being counted.”

                This does not address potential over-counting of deaths. But even if we knew that under-counting outnumbered over-counting, you’d still need to know the degree to which this happened, before saying “probably . . . much larger…”

                1. No. It doesn’t address potential overcounting. I suppose the argument is that there are deaths with multiple causes being attributed to Covid-19 though that’s a little tricky, it seems to me.

              2. NYC death rates other than COVID are about 35% higher than usual. While some of those may be COVID-positive, most of them are not.
                Suicides are up significantly, as are rape, murder, and domestic violence. Petty crime – shoplifting, vandalism, etc – are down very significantly, though, some headlines are calling it a “drop” in crime.
                Other causes of death, such as heart attacks, are up. Drug overdoses are up. Food poisoning is up, as are accidental deaths at home.

                There are certainly excess deaths beyond the recognized COVID cases, when comparing 2020 to 2019. But it is also quite clear that you cannot simply attribute all, or even most, of the excess deaths to unrecognized COVID cases.

                1. I’m gonna need some numbers on all that, dude.

                  1. Here you go,Sarcastro.

                    Toranth is lying, like his hero. Murders year to date down 11%, rapes down 22%. Robbery and burglary up 22-24%.

                2. The point on undercounting is that some of the deaths that you attribute to “other than COVID” may actually be COVID-related deaths. You note heart attacks are up. According to The Economist, cardiac-arrest deaths in March-April are up from a 2019 consistent, I don’t know, 10-15 per day, to 100 or 200 per day. Something is causing those heart attacks, and it could be COVID. Alternatively, bernard’s point is that even if COVID didn’t cause heart attacks, to the extent it strains hospital resources that would otherwise go to saving the lives of people who had COVID-unrelated heart attacks, those aren’t being counted as COVID-related deaths, but maybe should be. I don’t think it’s a crazy position. It’s certainly informative of public policy responding to COVID to understand what the disease does to the health care system, generally, and the secondary or tertiary effects of that.

                  Of course there may be other causes of higher-than-expected cardiac arrests, like the economic effects of shutting down businesses and increasing unemployment. But the mere possibility of contrary causes shouldn’t lead us to ignore the possibility of COVID-caused deaths that are going unreported. It was strange for the City to not count at-home COVID deaths in the first place. (I’d be interested to why they ever thought that was sensible.)

                  You’d want to factor that against an aging population, too. I don’t know the age demographics of NYC specifically, but the overall share of Americans 65+ years old has been increasing by about .4% each year since 2012. All-cause mortality rises with age. The oldest Boomers are turning 74 this year.

    2. Seems obviously right.

    3. I suspect it’s all just noise and there’s very little to be gleaned from the data at this point.

      Of course, my priors are correct anyway so it doesn’t matter if the data confirms them.

      1. If anything, the resilience of your priors, in the face of unsupportive data or noise, reinforces them. They must be strong to have survived this long, or they wouldn’t be your priors.

        1. Thank you.

    4. That’s legit funny, good show.

    5. I’d upvote NToJ’s post if we were allowed to upvote posts.

  3. In a dynamic situation where your daily numbers are statistically significant relative to your total numbers, I’m not so sure how statistically valid these differences are.

    That said, there are also varying approaches to Euthanisia in European countries….

    1. There is a difference in death from the virus and death with the virus.

      There are certainly different standards in different places. In my location the official guidance is to count as a virus fatality any untested pneumonia death if the person is believed to have been in contact with someone who tested positive.

  4. Isn’t Belgium that country which is half French and half Dutch?

    There you go!

    1. Where? Where do I go?

      1. Damn! Hoisted by my own petard! Damn you wily lawyers, damn you!

    2. “Isn’t Belgium that country which is half French and half Dutch?”

      Funny if true.

      1. It is true. (Well, technically they’re 60% Dutch and 40% French, judging by language.) What I’d like to know is how it’s relevant.

        1. If you mis-read that data than think that Belgium’s rate is halfway between France and the Netherlands (I’m assuming that this is what Á àß äẞç ãþÇđ âÞ¢Đæ ǎB€Ðëf ảhf did) then it’s funny.

          1. I was sort of hoping someone mathematical would complain that (1 + 2) / 2 is not 2.

      2. Can you imagine the depth and breadth of their bad attitude? Shivers!

      3. They’re Flemish not Dutch. There’s a huge difference. The Belgians have a completely differently structured country, when it comes to government, healthcare and nationalized medicine. I grew up 5 minutes from the Belgian border. What is really underreported and unknown is the amount of people who’ve had C-19 with little to no symptoms. I suspect that number is 5-10x bigger and once that becomes known with antibody testing, will drive down the CFR.

    3. There’s a German corner too that everybody forgets about.

    4. Does the Flemish/Walloon divide give Belgium lower social cohesion than it’s neighbors? Would that affect COVID-19 spread, e.g. by more cheating on social isolation?

  5. With the most serious cases that lead to death, it’s not general hospital beds that matter, but ICU beds.

    It’s not exactly supper current, I’ve seen some data that puts ICU beds per 100K pop at 20-30 for the US and 12-15 for Italy.

    1. Exactly. The US leads the world in ICU beds. Only Germany and Canada are close.

      We also have the best hospitals in the world.

      1. Just can’t afford them….

        1. You go live in a country where government pays and I’ll live here, where the outcomes for serious illness like cancer and heart disease are better, but more costly.

          The cosmic joke is thinking you can have both.

          1. I don’t think it’s a zero sum game to have cutting-edge health care innovation, and have it available to more than the very rich.

            I’m sure you believe 100% on innovation, and zero on easing access is unbalanced (i.e. pre New-Deal Dickensian style). So there is some line drawing to be had.

            1. “have it available to more than the very rich”

              Good thing that is not the case in the US.

              People on private [including employer paid] insurance, medicaid and medicare all have access to the best hospitals in the US. That is the overwhelming majority of potential patients. If you access it via the emergency room, even uninsured people can get care.

              My elderly mother in law was admitted to the Cleveland Clinic several times near the end, she was not rich. Rehab too at a good Jewish nursing home.

              I’d rather have a bill than live in a place with 3-5 times the death rate like Spain or Belgium or even the UK.

              1. Middle class bankruptcies are majority health care expense related.

                1. You said our superior hospitals are “available” only to the “very rich”. Now middle class can access but sometimes have to file bankruptcy.

                  I’d rather be bankrupt in the US than dead in Belgium. Your mileage may vary.

                  1. Your definition of available sucks.

                    1. Only a tiny portion of people in the US cannot get hospital care each and every day.

                      If a homeless druggie walks into the Cleveland Clinic emergency room this evening complaining of chest pains, he would get tested and if a heart problem was found, treatment. That is plenty “available”.

                      You want “free” heath care but the inevitable result is reduced care. We wouldn’t have our massive ICU advantage for one thing.

                    2. Available, but you will go bankrupt isn’t really available. That you think it is is pretty silly.

                      Alternatively, that you think emergency room access counts as sufficient healthcare is also pretty silly.

                      Homeless druggie isn’t going to get treated for much if he’s uninsured.

                      It’s almost as though you don’t actually care about real-world access, you just want to champion the status quo, facts bedamned.

                2. “Middle class bankruptcies are majority health care expense related.”

                  1. What does “health care expense related” mean?

                  2. Isn’t your metric backwards? What percentage of people who have large medical bills go bankrupt?

                  1. Bob is saying that plenty of nonrich people get great healthcare in America. I note that this is ignoring that lots of them bankrupt themselves to do so. Bob says that still counts as great healthcare.

                    That’s loony; I don’t care what metric you use.

                    1. ” I note that this is ignoring that lots of them bankrupt themselves to do so.”

                      Actually, your comment didn’t say that, since you provided no information on how many middle class bankruptcies there are.

                    2. MS, the bare number is what matters in this case, not the proportion. Because the full number is the externality that Bob is willing to elide in his ‘greatest healthcare’ thesis.

                      I can dig up how many medical expenses related bankruptcies there are if you dispute that it’s a high number, but that number is not generally something either side disagrees on.

                  2. “What does “health care expense related” mean?”

                    That’s the rub with those studies.

                    Fred and Martha are frugal, hardworking 22 year olds. Some bad medical thing happens to them and they now owe $350K in medical bills, and file for bankruptcy. I think most people would agree that the medical bills were the predominant cause of their bankruptcy.

                    OTOH, Bill and Jane aren’t frugal. They are 45 years old and have long earned a combined income of $120K, but have saved little. Every few years they do a cashout refi, Bill just replaced his 4 year old truck with a new $60K truck, and they have $60K in credit card debt. Bill needs an appendectomy and it costs $10K, and they file for bankruptcy. Is their bankruptcy ‘health care related’? Some of the studies count it as one.

                    The answer gets pretty complicated. Here’s Factcheck’s take. For another, google ‘643000 snopes’.

                    Saying “Middle class bankruptcies are majority health care expense related” requires at least several asterisks.

                    1. Ah yes, bankruptcies as a tool for moral instruction. That’s the key to good policy.

                    2. “Ah yes, bankruptcies as a tool for moral instruction. That’s the key to good policy.”


                      It takes two to have substantive discussions. What is your take on Factcheck’s and Snopes’ discussions about why the statement “Middle class bankruptcies are majority health care expense related” … needs a lot of context.

              2. People on private [including employer paid] insurance, medicaid and medicare all have access to the best hospitals in the US. That is the overwhelming majority of potential patients. If you access it via the emergency room, even uninsured people can get care.

                My elderly mother in law was admitted to the Cleveland Clinic several times near the end, she was not rich. Rehab too at a good Jewish nursing home.

                I’d rather have a bill than live in a place with 3-5 times the death rate like Spain or Belgium or even the UK.

                Lots of issues raised in this thread. But it’s worth noting that all three of the countries cited (Belgium, Spain, and the UK) have higher average life spans for both M and F than does the US. There are many measure of public health. ICU beds per capita matter in a situation like this, although it’s not clear that’s the explanation in the difference in COVID-19 mortality rates. But lots of other things matter to public health as a whole.

              3. Canada’s death rate from Covid-19 is 21 per million, compared to 71 for the US.

                Germany – 38
                Norway – 25
                Israel – 14
                Denmark – 49

                I guess I’m not seeing this correlation Bob claims exists.

          2. What about British Columbia?

            Massive amount of Chinese arriving daily. As well as a lot of Iranians. Since their per-capita death rate is 1/100 that of New York, with 1/5 the population, they must have a far superior public health system. No?

    2. The ICU count is not static — equipment (i.e. ventilators) can be put into normal rooms to make them de-facto ICU rooms, while a big part of ICU designation is nurse/patient staffing and hence a short-staffed ICU technically isn’t one anymore.

      1. The US has a ventilator advantage too.

  6. more likely testing protocols: If only the sickest are tested the “positive” rate is skewed towards those most likely to die. The positive cases are NOT a random sample.

    We can really only calculate a true mortality rate when there is a randomized antibody test, and we know the true unbiased level of positive cases.

    1. Deaths per million are not skewed by the testing (or lack) of those who are merely sick. Deaths per million is a per-capita measure, not a per-case measure. You can’t conflate the two.

      1. Depends on how they quantify something as a COVID-19 related death.

        1. That’s an entirely valid concern. But it’s unrelated to dwb68’s comment about the skewing inherent to testing only those who are sick.

      2. I see, on the worldometer page that column is the whole population, not just positives.

  7. Have fhey been waffling on their response?

    1. With blueberries, one hopes.

  8. Off Topic:

    Seems the State of Virginia noted people at a religious service on Sunday…In Chincoteague, Va., Police entered the Lighthouse Fellowship and was upset they were holding a church service for 16 people spaced far apart in a sanctuary that seats 293.

    Now, they’ve put the pastor up on a summons for criminal charges of up to a year in jail…. For having 16 people in a religious service spaced far more than 6 feet apart in a building built for 273…

    So, you can get your beer in Virginia, and have more than 10 people in a liquor store. You can get your medical marijuana in nearby DC. You can go golfing and be in a lawn mower store with more than 10 people, as long as you’re socially distancing. (Because lawn care is an essential business, of course). Kinkos is absolutely critical as well, so you can have more than 10 people.

    And if you’re the media…well, anything you do as the MEDIA is OK, there are no restrictions at all that apply to the media. No limits, no social distancing, nothing. Virgnia’s EO explicitly says it doesn’t apply to the media.

    But, have a religious service with 16 people on a high holy day? In a large church? Time to throw the pastor in jail….You’re better off golfing.

    It’s a sad day when golf has better constitutional protections than the first amendment.

    1. Does golf have constitutional protections? News to me.

      1. Golf has better than constitutional protections. It has a bunch of rich, influential people who really like it, and enjoy relaxing with it. And they can use their influence with the government to keep it open in a time of crisis, because, it’s good for them.

        Meanwhile apparently the 1st amendment means absolutely nothing, if the police can walk into a chapel that is working under identical, if not better, social distancing conditions to hundreds of other commercial establishments, and issue a summons to the pastor for a “crime” worth a year in jail, because he dared have a religious service in his own house of worship. Then threaten every other parish member there with a year in jail as well.

        1. Agree with your larger point, but I don’t see golfers receiving any exemption. I live adjacent to one of the 3 or 4 most exclusive golf clubs in the country, and no one but maintenance staff has set foot on the course since 3/16. As a golfer relegated to public courses, believe me, I’ve been watching.

          1. *The bans on golfing are really state by state. Some allow it. Some don’t. Virginia, in this particular example does.

    2. It’s a sad day when golf has better constitutional protections than the first amendment.

      I’d say it’s par for the course.

      1. Ba Da Boom. 🙂

      2. I’m glad you can joke about it.

        I’m sure though that if President Trump ordered the arrest of the managing editor of the Washington Post, and promised to throw him in jail for a year for violating social distancing rules, you would be outraged, and scream about the freedom of the press…

        1. Sometimes a joke is just a joke.

          And bernard11 is human, and sometimes makes jokes.

        2. Armchair,
          You were the first one to make a joke. (If you were serious about golf having more constitutional protection than the first amendment; then you were telling a lie…or you were a fool. I think neither of those last two apply–to me, you were clearly kidding to make a point.)

          So, if you are going to joke, and then, ALMOST IMMEDIATELY, whinge about another person joking in his/her response to your joke . . . well, I’m not sure if the English language has the right word for the situations. (“chutzpah” came to mind first, but it doesn’t exactly fit here.)

          1. “You were the first one to make a joke. (If you were serious about golf having more constitutional protection than the first amendment; then you were telling a lie…or you were a fool. I think neither of those last two apply–to me, you were clearly kidding to make a point.”

            What’s the joke…

            Here’s what I know. If you hold a Mass for 16 people, mostly poor, who just need a place to pray, in a Chapel that holds almost 300 people, the pastor hit with a jail sentence of almost a year. Let’s re-emphasize this. Despite the first amendment, we are threatening throwing PASTORS in jail for holding Service, under identical conditions to hundreds of other commercial establishments.

            Meanwhile the golf courses are all open and free as can be for rich, influential people who want to be buddy-buddy, because they “know people” and convinced them that, really, Golf is safe, and they need it.

            There’s no joke here. Throwing priest in jail for holding a mass in their own church.

            1. Let’s point out exactly how absurd the case is, and how absurdly it targets religion.

              If those same 16 people had walked into a large Kinkos and just sat there, photocopying documents (but 6 feet apart), talking and gabbing with one another, it would have been entirely legal under Virginia law.

              But because they were in a church, having a service, under identical conditions, it was deemed illegal, and worth imprisoning people over.

              1. Lets consider for a moment why your Kinkios scenario may not be the top risk policymakers are considering.

        3. I’m not sure I would — and that’s scary….

    3. One of several stories here. This was the Palm Sunday service. Looks like the thuggish show of force and threats of fines and jail time for the individual parishioners succeeded in driving the Easter service online.

    4. It seems to me that there is going to be an awful lot of litigation coming out of this when it is all over. Given that this minister will have an effective defense (the ADF if no one else), and will have full rights of discovery and the rest, I can’t help but wonder what will shake out in the wash.

      There have got to be a few idealistic young cops who put on the uniform “for God and Country” and are silently fuming about all of this stuff. And who knows what they know…

      That’s what did in the Mass State Police — it was two young, honest troopers who refused to change the arrest report of a judge’s druggie daughter (OUI, with Heroin possession). That lead to other honest troopers leaking to a website that another druggie, the cute girlfriend of a high-ranking supervisor, had been hired and that then lead to the US Attorney investigating a major overtime scandal.

      1. You slobber incessantly over fantasies involving right-wingers arising to flout mainstream American society with civil disobedience, vandalism, litigation, and the like (although you tend to leave the explicit race war fantasies to a couple of your conservative colleagues, to your credit). When should we expect be informed that your advocacy of a right-wing uprising has moved from the all-talk bluster phase to the personal action stage?

        Do you have a similar appetite for a few young, idealistic police officers, fuming about boorish abortion protesters harassing vulnerable women, deciding to crack some delusional right-wing skulls at the entrance to a clinic?

  9. “I don’t know why this is happening (different initial infection patterns? different containment policies? different treatment policies? different healthcare quality? different reporting practices?)”

    I’m not sure how easy it will be to separate signal from noise, given the susceptibility of random events to the trajectory of the curve. A dude goes to Italy and goes to a soccer game, a dude goes to France and goes to a less crowded event, etc. I doubt there is enough data to get any meaningful mean.

    1. Add in things like differences in testing and differences in counting on top of that, and I doubt there is anything meaningful there.

  10. “I don’t know why this is happening (different initial infection patterns? different containment policies? different treatment policies? different healthcare quality? different reporting practices?), ”

    According to Twitter and Babs Streisand, Trump caused every single death in America so I dunno. Maybe degree he is psychically controlling a country?

    1. Noted liberal spokesperson Barbara Streisand.

      Nutpicking continues apace.

      Shows how the right’s got nothin’.

      1. The right has you as a counter-example. So do libertarians.

        1. …Did you just call me not a nut?…if so, much obliged.

          I can’t say I never think of you as a nut – we’ve locked horns about some fundamental worldview matters. But you’re definitely not one of the will-to-power nihilists who continue to raise the heat/light ratio on these threads beyond even my jaded ability to enjoy.

      2. Have you ever noticed the motte & bailey tactics you use for who, and who isn’t, a spokesman for (chose your topic)?

        When it suits your argument, they are a spokesman, when it doesn’t, they are not and you’re a fool for taking the spokesman at their word.

        Perhaps we should settle on a level of acceptability. I propose that if the person is on the Hollywood A list, an elected (or former) member of Congress or statewide office, a president, or a professional blue check media figure, they can be a “spokesman” for (choose your issue). This leaves out academics, but they should only be included if cited by a major media firm.

        1. No, m_k. I don’t. You tried to ding me on this before.
          I mostly talk about the particular commenter.

          Sometimes I’ll talk about how this comment or that shows the right’s backed into a corner, but that’s not conservatives.

          And don’t think I didn’t catch your tu quoque. Whatever you think I’m doing, Amos is doing at least as badly. Is he wrong to go trying to puff up Barbara Streisand to speak for liberals or not?

          1. I didn’t “try”, I did. I suppose you can continue to blithely go about your way, picking and choosing evidence as it suits you. That’s really funny considering NToJ comment and the related thread above getting, as it were, bi-partisan support. Just be aware you’re doing it, which I don’t think you ever ar, unless people call you out on it. Why do you think I propose some standards? So you’re invocation against Amos actually meant more than hot air.

            As for Barbara Streisand, she is a noted spokeswoman, for a lot of things. We even have a term for when she tries to get things ignored and it has the opposite effect. I wouldn’t call her a spokesman for, say, the fat acceptance movement, but for the general leftist cause, she certainly is. Certainly “anti-Trump” where she has published newspaper columns about it, not to mention the protest album she released. So, famous person comes out strongly for topic X, gets op eds published, and has a huge media following? Yea, I’d call her a spokeswoman. If you ignore, that, well, it shows you got nothing.

            1. Barbara Streisand is a spokeswomen for lefties much as Instapundit, the Volokh Conspiracy, and Stormfront are spokespersons for righties.

              1. Go work on your method acting somewhere else, poser.

                1. Are you the clinger police? Did this blog’s Board of Censors deputize you?

            2. As for Barbara Streisand, she is a noted spokeswoman

              I’ma just leave this like you put it and move on.

              1. I will be bluntly honest, do you think that is a win for you of some sort?

                1. In that you’re being too silly to bother with, yes

                  Barbara Streisand is not the spokesperson for the Streisand effect.

                  1. So, you’re admitting here that Barbara Steisand can have a large media influence, even if it is the opposite direction of what she wants?


                    1. mad_kalak,

                      So you’re admitting here that you don’t understand the difference between “have a large media influence” and being a spokesperson for a group of people? Maybe get to the bottom of that and you’ll understand why you are fundamentally wrong in this line of attack.

      3. Relatively speaking, I’m not seeing all that much of ‘the blame game’ from conservatives. Mostly they’re concentrating on criticizing the severity of the lockdowns and when they do blame someone its mostly china even though there are plenty of targets here. On the other hand it seems everybody and their mother on the left is blaming Drumpf. Even the local music DJ went on an antiDrumpf rant out of nowhere the other day. And of course its nothing but Drumpf’s fault all day long in the MSM. So one side is acting like a finger pointing baby relative to the other, sorry if you can’t accept that.

        1. Blaming China
          Blaming the CDC/FDA
          Blaming the WHO
          Blaming local governors, often with the same poster blaming some both for being fascist for acting too harshly, and others for being murderers and not acting harshly and quickly enough.

          I don’t see the left absolving any of the above, the thing is they ALSO blame Trump. And, being the President, the buck stops with him.

          Additionally, while I get the impulse to turn anxiety into anger, I don’t see a lot of value in blaming for past acts. Of all these mentioned entities, Trump and local governments are the only ones presenting current actions that may be judged.

          And Trump is now talking about how if he opens the government, the governors have to comply. Yep, he continues to provide ample reasons to blame him.

          1. Okay, fair question, if one wants to blame Trump for the federal portion of the response what would Hillary and Biden do different? (Note, the ignorance of the left in general, though not you in particular, about federalism, has been astounding!)

            When this has come up in other threads, like Post’s screed, all I hear is that Hillary/Biden would “listen to the experts more” when the experts are:
            1) all over the place;
            2) have been demonstrably wrong already on this topic ;
            3) the same experts in place now would be the same experts no matter the party.

            The most I can say, is that under Obama, the press would be trying to unite us more than divide us, and Fox/Breitbart/etc. from the right would be doing the same that they are doing now, which is going after China hardcore. Moreover, like Fast and Furious, Benghazi, and the other Obama scandals, if they DID go after a Hillary response, it wouldn’t move the needle much, just like it then.

            1. what would Hillary and Biden do different?
              Not any of this:

              Your rejection of expertise and alternate universe media bias doesn’t really help anyone believe your argument that Trump is doing great.

              1. It’s incredibly ironic of you to reject evidence while complaining about rejecting evidence. Telling, as you say, very telling.

                And I never said Trump was doing great…I just said that the left can’t prove that their candidates would do any better. Quit making up other people’s arguments.

                1. You provided no evidence, just your own rejection of experts and support of Trump. That you think you’ve provided evidence of anything says a lot about how easily you convince yourself, and not much about anything else.

                  1. I’ve come to the conclusion that you have no idea what the word evidence means, when it comes to history, politics, and the social sciences. For example, if I say the rightist press was unable to move opinion against Obama/Hillary for Benghazi and Fast and Furious (they weren’t), that is evidence that it wouldn’t be able to move the opinion against Hillary/Biden for a hypothetical coronavirus response, because the rightist press rarely moves public opinion on much of anything. Moreover, when I say, as evidence, that the rightist press is blaming China hard (they are), that is evidence that they would also do so if Hillary was in charge, because the same problems with China’s lies would be there if Hillary was president other than Trump. Were you really into physics, this is simple logic here.

                    Again, I didn’t say Trump was doing great. You may recall, like Obama and H1N1, and like Sweden is doing now, I think he over reacted. I know why, but that’s other issue.

                2. “…And I never said Trump was doing great…I just said that the left can’t prove that their candidates would do any better….”

                  That is true. The problem with the Alternate Universe/Multiverse, is that it doesn’t exist. (Or, at least, we don’t have access to it, in order to prove or disprove assertions like the above.)

                  It would be wonderful, in response to people like you who say, “A Prez H. Clinton would have done as dreadfully as–or even worse than–Prez Trump has done.” Or, of course, in response to, “Prez Biden would have definitely done much better.” All we’d have to do is set up a parallel universe, but with Clinton/Biden as president, and then see what happened from Jan to now.

                  Since this can’t happen, all that is left is for people on both sides to exclaim with certainty about what would have happened in the alternate reality. And that’s fine. That’s sorta the only argument that we can make. (More honest, or more accurate, people will say, “In my opinion, Pres Biden would have done _____.” Or, “I think that Prez Clinton would have done _______.” )

                  So, Mad, you are correct that the left can’t PROVE that Dems would do any better. Just as you can’t prove that Dems would have done any worse. I’m not sure how meaningful your point was.

                  1. First, we can’t prove a lot of things, nothing really with certitude, and if that’s the case when it comes to the production of knowledge, we’d just stay in bed all day and never try. Let’s not get into falsification and all that.

                    Second, whenever someone says X is bad, the simple question to ask is “compared to what”. I have upset people who say “life is hard,” and I say, “compared to what, exactly.”

                    So when folks like Sarc complain about Trump’s virus response, the simple question to ask is, “compared to what?” The only conceivable “what” of course, are alternate scenarios or past historical precedents. I’m sure you do this in your own life, it’s hardly rocket science.

                    You could compare Trump’s response to Wilson and the Spanish flu, but you can’t *prove* that Trump is doing better or worse unless you have some sort of metrics, even then, it’s not like everything else was held equal like a scientific experiment. We can’t do that in life.

                    Likewise, you could compare Trump to Obama and H1N1. What can do, is what’s called a “thought experiment” to play out what a Hillary presidency would look like as she would respond. Doing so, requires the use of analogies and comparisons….these of course don’t *prove* anything, but they do allow you to make reasonable conclusions, or at a minimum, show that you *can’t* make conclusions due to lack of evidence. At which point we should have the intellectual humility to say “we don’t know the answer.”

                    Point is, the left can’t *prove* Hillary or Biden would be better than Trump, nor was I trying to prove Trump was better. But folks like Sarc can’t wrap their head around that.

                    1. You are spending a lot of time just relying on your initial “the left can’t prove their candidates would do any better”, Sarcast0 responded with just the type of evidence you now claim would be needed to have a discussion, but you ignored the evidence/argument, produced none of your own, and continued pushing hard on solipsism.

                      So, quite obviously, Trump had access to a lot of experts and data that indicated there was a pandemic that had spread to the United States and required a response. During that time, Trump kept claiming things like “We have it totally under control.” (Jan. 22), “Looks like by April…it miraculously goes away.” (Feb. 10), “The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA. … Stock Market starting to look very good to me!” (Feb. 24), “It’s going to disappear.” (Feb. 27), “Some people will have this at a very light level and won’t even go to a doctor or hospital, and they’ll get better. There are many people like that.” (Mar. 4), “The Fake News Media and their partner, the Democrat Party, is doing everything within its semi-considerable power … to inflame the CoronaVirus situation.” (Mar. 9).

                      As a starting point, can we agree that Trump’s Jan-Feb comments indicate either that he was not focused on and taking the threat seriously, or he was knowingly lying to the American public about the seriousness of the threat? Neither President Hillary or President Biden would have downplayed the seriousness of the looming threat. I also think it is highly likely they would have engaged with their experts much sooner in adopting and implementing a mitigation plan and would have begun preparing and explaining to the American public what might happen and what they were doing.

                      Now, I am not saying Biden or Hillary would be as good as Obama, but, as evidence they would take things more seriously and handle the public relations portion far, far better, I present this excerpt from public speech on April 27 when there were still only 20 deaths in the US from H1N1 (by comparison, 19 deaths from Covid-19 by March 7):

                      Trump is generally kind of awful, but his self-promotion before everything else ethos is particularly damaging in a crisis.

                      (Obama did what we should expect from a leader in these sorts of situations: Telling the truth, laying out what was being done, assuring the public that they would get regular public updates, and decidedly not waiving away the H1N1 flu as a hoax or would soon disappear or shifting focus to something else.) I don’t think you can watch this and not miss having a normal President with a modicum of class (whether Reagan, H.W., or Obama, or many others, but at least those three undeniably had class)

                3. the left can’t prove that their candidates would do any better.

                  Think about that. You are demanding the impossible. The fact is, Trump fucked up badly, whether you want to believe it or not. It’s not possible to prove Clinton wouldn’t have fucked up, but given how badly Trump did, it’s reasonable to guess that almost anyone would have done better.

                  I mean if Trump had gone around deliberately spreading the virus nobody could prove Biden or Clinton wouldn’t have done the same, but I doubt it.

                4. “And I never said Trump was doing great…I just said that the left can’t prove that their candidates would do any better. ”

                  That’s a third-grader’s argument.

                  Or an average clinger’s.

          2. The government of China is also presenting current actions that may be judged.


            I would also consider the reiteration and republication of false statistics and other information from earlier periods to be current actions.

            1. Well, screw them as well.

            2. There a couple of governments claiming to be the legitimate government of China. Maybe the US should see to it that whichever government handled the virus response gets to govern.

              1. Sure, lets have a war with China right after this.

        2. True there has been significant blaming of Trump. Based on the info I am gathering, Fauci, the CDC and other buearacrats are vastly more at fault.

          Steve Mcintyre at Climate Audit, has been running a good amount of commentary on the subject. Based on real time (ie what was known at each point in time), the Chinese government very rapid in providing public information. It was the US health officials that downplayed the risks with Trump overriding the health officials lack of concern.

          1. Joe, which Chinese government are you referring too? The one that made several docs sounding an early alarm disappear, and which blamed the virus on the U.S. Army, or which is clearly lying now that there are no new infections, or some other China in an alternate universe I don’t know about.

            1. “Joe, which Chinese government are you referring too?”

              Based on the description, it sounds like the one in Taipei.

              1. Why the hell did he not just say Taiwan? Having met some Taiwanese, they only consider themselves ethnically Chinese and not the legit gov’t of anywhere but their island. Then again, I admittedly don’t know all the geopolitics of the situation.

          2. Based on the info I am gathering

            Yeah…this isn’t a good direction to start going in. You’re picking your sources to confirm your PoV.

            In January China locked down down communication and arrested anyone who suggested the illness is SARS related.

            US health officials downplayed the risks?! Methinks you need to get with your fellow righties and get your stories straight.
            Good luck demonizing Fauci.

              1. I agree with them on that tweet. Doesn’t mean I find the account persuasive on all things.
                I’m not willing to go so far as to say Fauci and the CDC are ‘vastly more at fault’ than Trump, acted badly based on their analysis alone.

  11. Since a high percentage of people put on ventilators eventually die unfortunately it would be useful to know the extent to which different health care systems put patients on breathing assistance. In other words are some systems taking the deaths now or delaying a portion of them 2-3 weeks on a rolling basis.

    1. AND how long they leave them on them. That would definitely vary by jurisdiction.

  12. The death rate involves two numbers: Those who die from the disease and those who have the disease. Right now, BOTH of those numbers are fiction.

    Those who have the disease? Testing has generally been restrictive. Worse yet, the restrictions aren’t the same everywhere. Not only do we not know how many people have it, our “not knowing” is different in different places.

    Those who die from the disease? Some place are trying to make a distinction between “killed by covid-19” and “killed by something else while fighting covid-19”. Others aren’t making that distinction at all. Therefore, we can’t compare numbers in different places.

    There’s also a time lag for death. If I catch it today, it probably won’t kill me today. Even if we had consistent measurements for both numbers, the correct calculation is:

    (Those who died from covid-19) / (Those who have had covid-19 long enough for it to kill them) = (Dead) / (Dead + Recovered)

    1. It depends on which death rate you’re talking about. Per-case death rate does depend on both those numbers. Per-capita death rate, on the other hand, only depends on those who die from the disease and total population. The article above discusses only per-capita death rate.

      So definitions of what counts as “dieing from” the disease is a relevant question here. The testing of those who are sick but not dead is not relevant here.

      1. Good point. I guess I was thinking more along the lines of extrapolating per-case to per-capita based on the level of contagion but then that brings even more data problems in. Maybe I was just being sloppy and not thinking at all!

    2. “Those who die from the disease? Some place are trying to make a distinction between “killed by covid-19” and “killed by something else while fighting covid-19”. Others aren’t making that distinction at all. Therefore, we can’t compare numbers in different places.”

      Can you state what areas are not making this distinction?

  13. By way of comparison, US is at 67.

    a better comparison is NY & NJ at 513 & 265 deaths per million, respectively.

    texas at 10 along with numerous other states. 36 states less than 40, 25 states below 20 deaths per million

    1. I’d say let’s just measure the deaths per capita to what they were the past few years and we’d probably come up with a number more accurate the the other bogus numbers everybody is throwing around now.

      1. My first take: that seems like a reasonable starting point. (But I’d probably disagree with your term “bogus” to describe the numbers everyone on all sides of the issue are using. “Premature” is, I think, a more neutral and accurate description.)

  14. If you take out the NYC Metro, the US death rate per 1,000,000 is halved.

    1. And if you take out all the lowest-populated states, until the population of NYC [ie, a bit under 8.5 million] is matched; what happens to the US death rate then? (roughly-speaking, that would be: Wyoming, Vermont, Alaska, N. & S. Dakota, Delaware, and Rhode Island, combined)

      1. Virtually nothing, since you’re reducing the denominator by less than 3% (8.5M/330M); even if that reduces the numerator by close to 0, it will increase the result by less than 3%.

  15. There is no reason to believe that a country’s providers are stupider if their checks are written by the government instead of Blue Cross – our providers get a lot of government checks, dontcha know.

    I suspect the wide open spaces of much of America – versus the density of Madrid, for example – will benefit us in the long run.

  16. Perhaps, as a small but rich country, they have been able to test a large portion of their general population, whereas other countries only test patients with symptoms or other basis for suspicion. This would inflate the denominator and lower the ratio.

    Patients can also be excluded from the numerator. The NYT recently reported because more people in NYC have been dying at home, there is a substantial number of patients who have died without ever having been tested. These patients do not appear in the COVID 19 death rate, which includes only cases confirmed by testing, even if the untested cases showed symptoms before death.

    1. “This would inflate the denominator and lower the ratio.”

      Testing does not matter nor hospitalizations either.

      The death rate is calculated per millions of a country’s population. 1 million people with one death is 1 per million, 500 deaths is 500 per million.

      1. But we aren’t counting all deaths, only pandemic deaths, so knowing whether or not the disease behind the pandemic caused particular deaths is kind of important to getting death rate right.

    2. It does not. The CDC guidelines specifically require suspected cases to be counted as CoVid cases.

  17. Though nobody wants to admit it yet, when the dust settles, there will be a clear correlation between COVID-19 deaths and population density. Belgium is one of the most densely populated countries in Europe, NYC is the most densely populated US city…the closer people are crammed together, the higher viral loads they are exposed to and the more are infected.

    The smug urbanists who have been telling us we need to all live in dense megacities and use mass transit apparently forgot about, or ignored, this risk.

    1. Epidemics have centered in cities ever since there have been cities.

    2. How are the white, conservative, uneducated, backward, no-count, rural residents of South Dakota, led by smug and half-educated Republican Gov. Noem, handling the coronavirus?

  18. “These results mean that governments and policy-makers need to exercise extreme caution when interpreting case numbers for planning purposes. Such extreme differences in the amount and QUALITY of testing carried out in different countries mean that official case records are largely uninformative and do not provide helpful information.” (see chart on page 3)

  19. Let me, as a Belgian, shed some light on this high number. Unfortunately, our government has been trying to be too honest by also reporting deaths in elder homes of people of whom they suspect they have COVID-19, but haven’t been tested. This resulted in a very high number of deaths reported by elder homes, because almost all deaths there are now labeled as COVID-19…

    If you look at other countries, they only report COVID-19 verified deaths in hospitals. In our case this is 2246 at the moment. Divided by our population of 11.46 million, this gives 196 deaths per 100k residents.

    A better metric is to look at the overmortality rate, which will give a more fair indication on how bad or how well a country has been dealing with this virus.

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