The mortality rate of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in the U.S. is falling dramatically — not because fewer people are dying from the virus, but reportedly because data and testing is becoming more accurate.

On March 12, in the U.S. there were 36 deaths out of 1,215 cases, for a mortality rate of 2.96%. On March 18, there were 121 deaths out of 7,047 cases, for a mortality rate of 1.72%.

Cases in the U.S. have begun to spike, especially in New York due to testing becoming more accessible, but the death rate has plummeted dramatically. As of March 28, there have been 104,256 cases in the U.S. and 1,704 deaths — making the mortality rate 1.63%.

The 1.33% drop from mid-March to now is a result of data becoming more accurate, Stephen Miller, an associate professor of economics at Troy University writes, comparing the U.S. rate to that of Germany, which has tested more people than most countries due to its usage of independent labs.


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“Germany also has the lowest death rate, at just over 0.1%,” Miller wrote. “If that number sounds familiar, it is roughly the death rate from the 2018-19 flu season in the U.S.”

Germany has reported significantly fewer deaths than the U.S., however, so it is difficult to determine if this will change — it could easily spike upwards, as it did in the U.S., and throw off the curve or their low number of deaths could be attributed to a more efficient health care system.

Regardless of whether Germany’s data is more accurate, other countries have not been as lucky.

In China, where the virus took off but has since slowed down, the mortality rate hovers around 4%. Italy, whose entire healthcare system has been overwhelmed and unequipped to deal with the virus, is currently reporting a mortality rate of 10.6%. France is showing a mortality rate of around 6% and Spain’s is currently 7.9%.

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