Which countries have performed the worst against the coronavirus?

worst coronavirus countries
Photo via Christine und Hagen Graf/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic on March 11, roughly 28 million cases and more than 900,000 deaths have been reported just six months later. Some countries are obviously faring better than others in containing the virus—however, since early on, the U.S. has been leading the globe in both cases and deaths. But even the U.S. isn’t among the worst coronavirus countries when taking other statistics into consideration.

Obviously, there are a number of factors to look at here, such as testing discrepancies causing the number of cases and deaths to possibly be understated in some countries. It also makes sense that larger countries would tend to have higher numbers. Additionally, countries that have larger aging populations may be hit harder by COVID-19 due to the fact that older people succumb to the disease much more easily.

When examining the data, it helps to look at not just the total number of cases and deaths, but those numbers per 100,000 people in a country’s given population. While the U.S. may be doing poorly, it doesn’t even crack the top 10 in cases or deaths per 100,000 people.

Other areas being hit particularly hard include the United Kingdom, Brazil, and several other South American countries. The pandemic is also just now starting to ravage countries in the Persian Gulf, where the virus spread like wildfire among foreign laborers.

Johns Hopkins University publishes a running, live-updated tally of cases and deaths for most countries in the world. Cases have been reported on every continent except Antarctica, and North Korea stands as another notable exception—if only because the state-controlled country claims to have had zero cases. There are also a handful of countries that have effectively “beaten” the virus.

Another discrepancy to consider is countries such as Italy and Spain, which saw some of the worst outbreaks early on but have since gotten the virus under control due to strict measures. Now, some of these countries have even reopened schools and businesses, and some have even opened borders to tourism.

The figures below are based on data from the Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering, as of Sept. 10. Again, it’s worth pointing out that the data is collected from many sources, some of which conflict. There are also significant differences in the ways that individual countries test for the virus and in the reporting of cases and deaths.

Here are some of the worst performing coronavirus countries, as of Sept. 10.

Highest reported cases

  1. United States 6,370,081
  2. India 4,465,863
  3. Brazil 4,197,889
  4. Russia 1,042,836
  5. Peru 702,776
  6. Colombia 686,851
  7. Mexico 647,321
  8. South Africa 642,431
  9. Spain 543,379
  10. Argentina 512,293

Highest reported cases per 100,000 people

  1. Qatar 4,352
  2. Bahrain 3,661
  3. French Guiana 3,150
  4. Aruba 2,579
  5. Panama 2,371
  6. Chile 2,289
  7. Kuwait 2,244
  8. Peru 2,197
  9. San Marino 2,137
  10. Brazil 2,004

(*The U.S. ranks No. 11, with 1,947 cases per 100,000 people)

Highest reported deaths

  1. United States 191,168
  2. Brazil 128,539
  3. India 75,062
  4. Mexico 69,049
  5. United Kingdom 41,608
  6. Italy 35,587
  7. France 30,643
  8. Peru 30,236
  9. Spain 29,628
  10. Iran 22,798

Highest reported deaths per 100,000 people

  1. San Marino 124
  2. Peru 95
  3. Belgium 87
  4. Andorra 69
  5. United Kingdom 63
  6. Spain 63
  7. Ecuador 63
  8. Chile 63
  9. Bolivia 63
  10. Brazil 61

(*The United States ranks No. 12, with 58 deaths per 100,000 people)

Even though the U.S. doesn’t have the worst statistics in some of those categories, participants in a 13-country study completed by Pew Research says the U.S. has handled the pandemic terribly and that their confidence in the U.S. and President Trump is at an all-time low.

Read more on traveling during the pandemic:

Sources: CNN, The Guardian, New York Times, Johns Hopkins

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