Yesterday, ConservativeHome updated readers on the current status of the UK’s situation with Coronavirus (today there are 1,182 new cases and six deaths recorded within 28 days of a positive test). The next question is, of course, how this compares to Europe.
There are a number of different sources offering information on European rates, some of which contradict each other, due to when the data was collected and uploaded onto sites. For the purpose of consistency, we have gone with John Hopkins University of Medicine’s Coronavirus Resource Centre, and have chosen a selection of countries that are often compared to the UK.
There have been 582 new cases and 10 new deaths in the past day; the record high being 2,454 on April 15 and 496 on April 10, respectively.
France’s data hasn’t been uploaded yet, but over the past week it has had 12,446 new cases and 59 new deaths.
1,586 new cases and eight new deaths in the past day; the record high being 6,933 on March 27 and 510 on April 15, respectively.
212 new cases and three new deaths in the past day; the record high being 251 on August 14 and 10 on April 3, respectively.
642 new cases and seven new deaths in the past day; the record high being 6,557 on March 21 and 919 on March 27, respectively.
6,671 new cases and 127 new deaths in the past day; the record high being 16,269 on August 17 and and 1,179 on June 19, respectively.
192 new cases and 12 new deaths in the past day; the record high being 2,530 on June 29 and 185 on April 21, respectively.
When measured in the same timeframe, it has 831 new cases and 17 new deaths; the record high being 5,505 on April 22 and 1,224 on April 21.
Looking at these statistics, it’s clear that trying to compare countries in terms of their fight against Covid-19 is far more complicated than it seems.
While there has been concern about about rising cases in the UK, it is by no means the worst affected in this respect (take Spain). Also it is interesting that Sweden, having received huge criticism for its approach, now only has 192 new cases, and a rapidly declining death rate. The fact that it has “flattened the curve” without enforcing a full lockdown raises many questions about how much of Covid-19’s decline can be attributed to the intervention (versus a natural decline).
Another interesting pattern to observe is that having a high number of cases, relative to other countries, cannot be taken alone as measure of how successfully it has fought Covid-19. Germany, for instance, has much more new cases than Sweden, but it has less deaths, indicating that – as has been remarked on before – its healthcare system is much better equipped than others’.
It’s also worth looking at some of the curves for different countries, which can be seen on Google (if you search for a country’s name and “Covid cases/deaths”).
In terms of deaths, most countries display the same pattern – one peak and then a gradual decline – albeit on different timelines. Even Greece, which has one of the lowest death rates, has a noticeable peak in April (nine deaths).
Perhaps the biggest outlier in terms of the curve, both for deaths and cases, is Spain. It has a clear peak in deaths in March (929 deaths) then another higher one in June (997) – although it does seem to have trailed off. Cases have recently been on the rise again, hence why politicians have been concerned about the possibility of a second wave in the country. But it’s worth remembering that the detection of cases is also a paradox of improvements in testing regimes.
As another thesis, it may be the case that countries that went into lockdown fastest will see harsher spikes as the economy reopens again, as opposed to Sweden which lived with the virus. It has been hypothesised that Covid-19 has a u-shaped curve, regardless of intervention, but if an intervention is applied, it may distort the pattern of Covid-19 on a graph. There will be spikes and the appearance of the second wave (when it may be the first one still coming through). In Greece, which was one of the fastest to lockdown, this could potentially happen.
Overall, while there has been concern about cases across the continent – with France planning to make masks compulsory across all workplaces – it’s clear that deaths have fallen rapidly. When making sense of these figures, politicians and journalists should use as many as possible in conjunction to assess the situation with Coronavirus. They should look at the big differences between cases and deaths per day, compared to what they were at the peak.
By all indications, there is reason to be optimistic that the most dangerous statistics are coming under control.