Monday, October 26, 2020

Covid-19 Deaths in Rich Countries: Belgium, US and UK lead in per capita rankings

An analysis published on October 22 shows that among 12 rich country members of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Belgium by far has the highest Covid-19 death rate, followed by the United States and the United Kingdom. The US has a higher mortality rate than many of its peer countries, the coronavirus being the third-leading cause of death in 2020, behind only heart disease and cancer. Among other OECD countries, only Belgium has a Covid ranking as the third-highest cause of death. Covid ranks fourth in France, Sweden, and the United Kingdom, but much lower in Germany and Austria, where it ranks 17th and 18th respectively.

The analysis compares the number of Covid deaths in each country through October 15th with annual deaths for other conditions in the most recent full year of data, generally 2017.

The US at 66.5 is behind Belgium (90.4 deaths per 100,000 people) and followed by the UK and Sweden (65.3 and 58.0 deaths per 100,000 people, respectively).

Canada has less than half as many Covid-19 deaths per capita (26.3 deaths per 100,000 people) compared to the US Austria, Australia, and Japan rank as the bottom three among peer countries, with 9.9, 3.6, and 1.3 Covid-19 related deaths per 100,000 people, respectively.

Ireland's comparable rate to October 23 was at 38.15, just behind the Netherlands.

The Peterson Center on Healthcare and KFF (Kaiser Family Foundation) analysis from two leading healthcare think-tanks note that US’s excess deaths count per 100,00 people is the second highest excess deaths count per 100,000 people at 85.2, with the UK having the highest at 87.4 excess deaths per 100,000 people as of August 16, 2020. The scientists say that more recent data has a higher rate of excess deaths per 100,000 at 90.1 than the UK, which has 89.6 per capita. Belgium is in third place.

Belgium's Covid-19 tragedy

OECD data show that beds in long-term residential facilities per 1,000 population 65 years and over in Australia in 2018 were 51; 47 in Austria; 69 in Belgium; 39 in Denmark; 50 in France; 54 in Germany (2017); Ireland 47; Netherlands 73; Sweden 70; UK 44 and the US at 33 (2016).

Belgium has 9 health ministers and Maggie De Block (above) was the federal health minister until she was sacked last September.

“It isn’t a very aggressive virus. You would have to sneeze in someone’s face to pass it on,” De Block said on March 3, adding, “If the temperature rises, it will probably disappear.”

The Economist Intelligence Unit has constructed an index to rank the quality of the policy response to coronavirus across 21 OECD countries (Australia, Austria, Belgium, Chile, Denmark, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Israel, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK and the US). Countries are assessed against three “quality of response” criteria (number of tests, provision of non-Covid-19 healthcare and the number of above-average excess deaths). Three mitigating factors adjust scores to take pre-existing risk factors (share of older population, obesity prevalence and number of international arrivals) into account. The resulting index shows which countries have so far managed the pandemic best, given their risk profiles.

The EIU noted that "Belgium, Italy, Spain and the UK record the lowest scores. This is partly understandable in the case of Italy and Spain: these countries were the first in Europe to be hit by the pandemic and had little time to prepare. However, it is harder to explain the UK’s poor score."

The governments of Australia, Austria, Denmark, Germany, Iceland, Israel, New Zealand and Norway registered the highest scores.

Belgium has explained its very high death rate as resulting from the inclusion of possible Covid-19 cases. However, this has been a smokescreen to cover-up a lamentable record at care/ nursing homes.

A think-tank, Institut Montaigne endorsed the official line for example.

Two out of 3 Covid deaths from March to May 9 were in care homes.

Belgian researchers reported last June:

"Belgium has virtually no discrepancy between Covid-19 reported mortality (confirmed and possible cases) and excess mortality. There is a sharp excess death peak over the study period; the total number of excess deaths makes April 2020 the deadliest month of April since WWII...Against each of the years from 2009 and 2019 and the average thereof, there is a strong excess death peak in 2020, which nearly entirely coincides with confirmed plus possible Covid-19 cases. The excess death/COVID-19 peak rises well above seasonal fluctuations seen in the first trimester during the most recent decade (induced in part by seasonal influenza). In the second week of April 2020, twice as many people died than in the corresponding week of the reference year."

The New York Times in a scathing report from Belgium last August noted:

"The situation was so dire that the charity Médecins Sans Frontières dispatched teams of experts more accustomed to working in war-hardened countries. On March 25, when a team arrived at Val des Fleurs, a public nursing home a few miles from European Union headquarters, they were greeted by the stale smell of disinfectant and an eerie stillness, pierced only by the song of a caged canary...There was no protective equipment. Oxygen was running low. Half the staff was infected. Others showed signs of trauma common in disaster zones, a psychologist from the medical charity concluded."