Analysis by Keith Rankin.
Today’s first summary chart looks at reported Covid19 cases and deaths over the seven days to 14 May. It is sorted into a Covid19 ‘deaths league’. Sweden now leads the world for acknowledged Covid19 deaths, closely followed by United Kingdom and Belgium. While Netherlands is showing well below Sweden and Belgium, Monday’s chart showed the large extent of the undercount of Covid19 deaths in Netherlands.
(Belgium continues to be the worst affected country in the world – excluding little San Marino – with three times the number of deaths per capita than the USA. Sweden has 33% more Covid19 deaths per capita than the USA. The regular news reports that the USA is the worst affected country from Covid19 are far from true.)
(This table omits a number of small mainly wealthy countries that have been excluded because of their small size: Bermuda [British], Andorra [Europe], Sint Maarten [Dutch], Mayotte [French], Channel Islands [British], Sao Tome and Principe [Portuguese-speaking Island nation off African coast].)
For deaths in the last week, Ecuador is fourth in the world, still well ahead of Brazil and Peru for Latin America; though Peru has many more new cases – per capita – than the other two. Mexico is now also making a significant showing.
While the chart is still dominated by the usual European suspects, there are relative newcomers from eastern Europe (Moldova, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Romania and Finland).
Also of great significance is the presence of an Arabian country – Kuwait – in the ‘deaths league’. Kuwait has so many new cases that it requires two columns.
Re Netherlands, I saw the following story on Al Jazeera this week: Hidden coronavirus tragedies: Dutch elderly advised against ICU. Netherlands is the country with the most ‘liberal’ euthanasia laws. It appears that, while elderly Dutch people have not really embraced euthanasia, government policy is to place subtle pressure on them: “In late March, the Dutch Federation for Medical Specialists advised medical professionals to be more selective in sending COVID-19 patients to the ICU”.
I have a sense that a variation of this ‘let the old die quietly’ approach is taking place in Sweden. Sweden is an overtly mercantilist country (as is Netherlands) that sees its economic purpose of life as “making money” (especially through exports), and where people ‘live to work’ rather than ‘work to live’. A nation with such underlying values places a lowish value on the lives of retired persons. I caught Paul Henry (on TV3) interviewing a senior public health official from Sweden. The Swedish official dismissed his country’s high death rate, claiming that the ratio of deaths to cases (what our Ashley Bloomfield calls the “positivity rate”) is unimportant because Sweden is not interested in knowing about “asymptomatic” cases of Covid19. It seems that Sweden’s strategy is to let the virus infect as many people as it can, treat the seriously ill, and not worry too much about elderly fatalities. At present, two in every thousand people in Stockholm have died from Covid19; not quite as bad as New York City, but certainly comparable.
One more country to note is Ireland, which has gone ‘under the radar’, but continues to have a serious problem. Being an island hasn’t helped Ireland very much.
Qatar – home of Al Jazeera, and one of the last airlines to keep flying around the world – has more than double the new cases of the second country, Kuwait. Bahrain, UAE, Saudi Arabia and Oman also feature on this chart. While only Kuwait has significant numbers of deaths so far, it seems likely that death rates in the other Arabian countries will pick up later this month. (We should also note that we are currently in the middle of Ramadan, which may have something to do with what is happening in these countries.) Qatar and UAE resemble Singapore in a number of ways; Singapore is, like them, a leader in new cases. Hopefully the Arabian countries will prove as good as Singapore in averting high death rates. Certainly, the age profile of the cases in the Arabian countries will be much lower than in Europe and North America, so that will help to keep their death rates down.
(Note that two countries were omitted from the second chart, again for being too small. These were San Marino and Mayotte.)
An important country for New Zealand to watch is Chile, which is in many ways like New Zealand, has winter coming, and has had a major outbreak of new cases after easing restrictions.
We also note the presence of Russia, now ahead of USA in terms of cases per person. Another country to note is Gabon, the first continental African country to show up. Gabon is a comparatively wealthy French-speaking country. Also, we see the Maldives, a popular tourist country in the Indian Ocean; a country whose main industry is high-end tourism.
Among the Anglo-Celtic countries, United Kingdom clearly leads the Covid19 mortality data. I think it’s clear that, in London at least, the virus spread too widely to be contained before any containment measures were implemented. Ireland lags the UK, but leads Canada. It is looking like eventual death rates from Covid19 will be much the same in Ireland, Canada and the USA.
New Zealand and Australia continue to look good. It appears that Australia has contained its recent upturn in cases. Winter is the challenge now, for the southern hemisphere countries.