News & Politics

No, the United States Does Not Lead the World in Coronavirus Cases or Deaths

Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci speaks during a coronavirus task force briefing at the White House, Friday, March 20, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Last month, the media jumped on the news that the United States had more confirmed cases of the coronavirus than any other nation. That was bogus on two fronts. First, U.S. intelligence agencies believe that China is lying about its true numbers, and reports from inside the country tell of crematoriums working around the clock and people being paid off to keep quiet.

Second, the United States does not lead the world in coronavirus cases per capita—which is the best way to compare how the pandemic is being contained in each country. For much of the pandemic, Italy has been overwhelmed by the coronavirus, but Italy has fewer cases and deaths than the United States. The United States has nearly six times the population of Italy, and when you measure cases and deaths per capita, it’s easy to see why Italy was overwhelmed and the United States is not.

Here are the top six countries by confirmed cases (based on the case numbers from the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University as of 9:00 am ET April 12) in descending order (excluding China because their numbers are bogus):

  1. USA (530,006)
  2. Spain (166,019)
  3. Italy (152,271)
  4. France 130,730
  5. Germany (125,452)
  6. The United Kingdom (79,885)

Now, here are the top six countries by confirmed cases per million people (based on population numbers from the CIA World Fact Book) in descending order:

  1. Spain (3319.33)
  2. Italy (2440.14)
  3. France (1926.80)
  4. USA (1593.34)
  5. Germany (1565.03)
  6. United Kingdom (1214.78)

See? When looking at the number of confirmed cases compared to the population, the United States is not number one.

I generated charts via Our World In Data to show you visually. (NOTE: Their data comes from the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, so there may be a slight discrepancy between the chart and the numbers from Johns Hopkins.)

Just like with confirmed cases, when the United States’ whole number of coronavirus deaths passed 20,000, the media rushed in to say that the United States “now leads the world in deaths.” But does it really? Let’s look at the data.

Here are the total confirmed deaths of the top six hit countries in descending order.

  1. USA (20,608)
  2. Italy (19,468)
  3. Spain (16,972)
  4. France (13,851)
  5. The United Kingdom (9,892)
  6. Iran (4,474)

The United States has passed Italy for confirmed coronavirus deaths, that must mean we’re doing worse than they are, right? Wrong. Here are the top six countries for deaths per million people.

  1. Spain (339.33)
  2. Italy (311.97)
  3. France (204.15)
  4. The United Kingdom (150.42)
  5. USA (61.95)
  6. Iran (52.68)

Obviously, the media wants the public to believe that the situation in the United States is worse than anywhere else because that makes Trump look bad. Last month, when President Trump said the United States had done more coronavirus tests than South Korea, the media pounced on the claim and pointed out that the United States’ population is more than six times that of South Korea, and when you looked at testing per capita, the United States was still behind South Korea.

And through it all, the country that seems to avoid criticism from the media is China. They covered up the virus, even led the world to believe that it couldn’t be transmitted human-to-human for weeks. They’re even covering up the true extent of the spread of the disease in their country. Instead, the media chooses to push the narrative that things in the United States are worse than they really are because they hope it will result in Trump’s defeat in November. So, when the media tells you that the United States leads the world in coronavirus cases and deaths, they are wrong. The United States is a very big country, and when you measure coronavirus cases and deaths per capita, we don’t “lead the world” at all.


Matt Margolis is the author of Trumping Obama: How President Trump Saved Us From Barack Obama’s Legacy and the bestselling book The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis