News & Politics

What the Media Won't Tell You About the United States' Coronavirus Case Fatality Rate

AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Without fail, the media seems intent on making America out to be the lone failure in the world in the battle against the coronavirus.

Many media outlets have described the United States as “losing the war” against the coronavirus because the number of cases keeps going up. Axios, for example, created a chart show that if all coronavirus patients (confirmed cases) were a city, it would be the third-largest city in the country. The recent trend by the media to focus on the total number of cases seems to be a result of the recent spike in cases that failed to produce a similar spike in deaths. So far, we’ve only just seen a small bump in fatalities, and there is evidence that data dumps of backlogged data could be inflating those numbers.

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Nevertheless, because we’ve witnessed a spike in cases and there have been roughly 3.5 million cases in the United States, that’s the number the media seems to be gravitating to. Why? Because when you look at the number of cases and the number of deaths individually and compare them to other countries, the USA seems to be the hardest hit…

…that is until you account for population or look at the ratio of deaths per confirmed cases. I’ve previously examined how the United States measures up on cases and deaths per capita, so we know why the media doesn’t report on that, but the media also doesn’t want to report about case fatality rate (CFR). And the following graphs will show you why.

I decided to look at the case fatality rate of the United States and compare it to select European countries. We often hear about how enlightened Europe is compared to the United States, with their progressive politics and various version of universal health care. So, let’s see how they measure up:

How about that! Out of the twelve countries compared here, the United States currently comes in at the bottom, ranking at number eleven.

And before anyone suggests that my selection of countries was biased, let’s compare the United States to the entire European Union, and for kicks let’s add Canada into the mix:

Well, look at that. The United States’ CFR (3.93 percent) is significantly lower than the European Union (10.36 percent) and Canada (8.1 percent).

Keep in mind that New York City is the hotspot of the entire world, not just the United States. Had the failure of local leadership by Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio not occurred, the United States would have come out even better when compared to the rest of the world.

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Now, obviously, CFR is not necessarily the best or most accurate metric. As OurWorldInData explains, “It’s important to note that it is the ratio between the number of confirmed deaths from the disease and the number of confirmed cases, not total cases. That means that it is not the same as – and, in fast-moving situations like COVID-19, probably not even very close to – the true risk for an infected person.”

This is very true. The CFR in the United States is currently just under 4 percent, but that doesn’t mean nearly 4 percent of the people infected by COVID-19 will die. According to the CDC, the overall mortality rate for symptomatic cases of COVID-19 is likely .4 percent.  While CFR might not give us an accurate account of mortality risk, it does give us insight into the volume of testing and the efficacy of treatments. In regards to both, we’re doing a good job—much better than those countries that supposedly have better health care systems than we do.

But what this proves is that the media is still avoiding any comparison that shows the United States in a positive light compared to other countries during this pandemic. Back in March, I noted how the media was avoiding cases and deaths data per capita because that showed that the United States was doing better than other comparable countries. That data didn’t show the United States as number one for deaths or cases. The media wants us to believe the United States is disproportionately losing the battle against COVID-19 compared to other nations because they want the public to blame Trump and vote him out of office.

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Matt Margolis is the author of the new book Airborne: How The Liberal Media Weaponized The Coronavirus Against Donald Trumpand the bestselling book The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis

A Coronavirus Chart The Mainstream Media Doesn’t Want You To See