The USA: Petrie Dish for Virus Infections

di Priscilla Pajdo del July 15, 2020

TORONTO - Globally, cases continue to climb with over 13 million reported by Johns Hopkins University. Cautionary words from the director of the WHO stated, “too many countries are headed in the wrong direction”. We may be headed for a second wave.

Countries across the world have implemented lockdown measures and restrictions to minimize the spread of coronavirus and mitigate its effects. Over half a million deaths worldwide have been attributed to Covid-19, in the last six months.

It is a “grim reaper”. There is no antidote, vaccine or pharmaceutical ready to mitigate its impact once it infects its host.

At best we can at least avoid areas – hot spots – where it seems to be taking hold. News of a surge in new cases among certain countries like India, Mexico and Brazil dominates the headlines. An assessment of the numbers tracking its contagion and fatality tell a surprisingly different story.

We have decided to tell that story with the accompanying chart and graphics. The three countries above do not figure in the picture because their “per million of population” criterion for measuring the virus’ impact (either for contagion or fatality) is vastly inferior to that of the jurisdictions listed.

Chart here below lists fifteen countries (and/or jurisdictions) where Covid-19 has been prevalent. The horizontal graphs depict the information arranged in descending order for confirmed positive cases and ascending for fatalities, as per million of population.

The USA ranks at the top of virtually all lists for absolute numbers of infection and fatality. Roughly 25% of all confirmed positive and deaths occur in the USA. The real story lies in the per million of population among its component States factor.

Considering this ranking system, the USA drops down on the list. The jurisdiction that holds the top spot for confirmed infections (blue graphic) is New York State (NY) with nearly 22,000 cases per million of population. California, for instance, which is experiencing a surge in new cases, has re-imposed lockdowns in some of the hardest hit areas to slow the spread and contagion of the virus.

Even the hardest hit European countries such as Spain, UK, Italy, and France, during the early months of the pandemic rank far below some of the jurisdictions within the USA. For example, NY has a rate of infection nearly five times that of Italy occupying the median position.

At the opposite end of the scale is the province of Ontario. One could say it is one of the safest places to be - compared to any of the other jurisdictions on this graph.

While it is still too soon to determine the resolution of the rise in newly reported cases, the red graphic shows the unfortunate outcome of those who have already succumbed to Covid-19, as per the ratio.

The US alone, reports the greatest number of fatalities, over 138,000, roughly one quarter of all deaths worldwide attributable to Covid-19. The rankings on this graph suggest New Jersey (NJ) might be the worst State for those unfortunate enough to contract Covid-19.

The European country of Belgium, with the worst death rates per million of population, pales in comparison to the analogous rates in NY, NJ, Connecticut, and Massachusetts with rates well over 1,000 deaths per million of population.

Ontario, on the other hand, has a fatality rate roughly one tenth that of NY.

Viewed through these lenses, the graphs illustrate the severity of the virus and might suggest steps governments might take, such as restricting certain Canada-US border crossings to ensure the safety of all concerned.

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