Coronavirus hits major European states three times harder than U.S.

by WorldTribune Staff, April 14, 2020

Europe’s five most populated countries have a combined population of 324 million. The United States population is 330 million. Yet those five European nations, Germany, Great Britain, France, Italy and Spain have more than three times the coronavirus deaths as the U.S.

As of Sunday morning, the U.S. had recorded 20,614 deaths, while the five European countries recorded 63,054, according to a Washington Times analysis.

Italy’s first COVID-19 case appeared in Rome on Jan. 31 via Chinese tourists, according to reports. / YouTube

Some analysts say the disparity is due to the fact that Europe has the world’s oldest population. Acording to the United Nations, 1 in 4 Europeans are age 60 or older. COVID-19 puts the elderly most at risk, especially those with secondary health problems such as high blood pressure or diabetes. About 1 in 5 Americans are 60 or older.

The Italian government reported in late March that people 60 and older accounted for 94 percent of the country’s coronavirus deaths.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, who imposed some of Europe’s strictest shutdown rules, acknowledged to NBC’s “Meet the Press” on April 5 that his country did not respond well to the outbreak.

“Italy has been the first country in Europe that, of course, faced this pandemic,” Conte said. “Our response has not been perfect, maybe, but we have been acting [to] the best of our knowledge.”

Daniel Kochis, a European analyst at The Heritage Foundation, gave The Times this assessment: “We don’t actually know how accurate these numbers are. What is defined as a death from coronavirus differs from country to country. Some victims die at home and may not be counted, and of course testing differs drastically across countries. It could very well be that deaths in the U.S. are undercounted, and as the U.S. pandemic picked up later than in Europe, there’s also a lag in reporting, especially for places like NYC hit hardest by the pandemic.

“Other factors are population differences. Italy, of course, has an elderly population. Spain’s population is also older compared to the United States. Finally, there are differences in ICU capacity and ventilators per capita which likely factor into the variance in death rates across nations.”

The 27-country European Union “is showing signs of unhappiness with its strategies to fight the coronavirus,” Washington Times reporter Rowan Scarborough noted.

Last week, the European Research Council forced out Mauro Ferrari, its top scientist, after less than three months on the job, the BBC reported.

“Since his appointment, Professor Ferrari displayed a lack of engagement with the ERC, failing to participate in many important meetings, spending extensive time in the USA and failing to defend the ERC’s program and mission when representing the ERC,” the council said. “Professor Ferrari subsequently resigned on 7 April 2020. … Therefore, his resignation in fact followed a written unanimous vote of no confidence.”

Ferrari told the Financial Times that his plan for a special council program to combat COVID-19 was rejected. He then took his idea to the EU Commission, the union’s operations arm, and that touched off “an internal political thunderstorm,” he said.

The coronavirus wave splashed across Europe at roughly the same time as it did in the U.S. The first U.S. case appeared in Washington state on Jan. 15, with clusters of infections by month’s end.

On the East Coast, New York City found its first case in a woman who had visited hard-hit Iran. By the end of March, thousands of cases and more than 200 deaths made the Big Apple the COVID-19 epicenter of the U.S.

In Europe, Italy’s first case appeared in Rome on Jan. 31 via Chinese tourists, according to reports. The virus broke out in Lombardy, home to Chinese garment workers, in mid-February.

Spain’s first case was confirmed on Jan. 31. A mid-February cluster was blamed on an Italian doctor.

France’s first case appeared Jan. 24 in Bordeaux, and the first five French patients were people who had been to China.

Germany confirmed its initial infection in late January in Munich, and multiple cases were reported in February.

The United Kingdom’s first batch of contagion was in March, and its timeline was comparable to New York City’s.

In terms of peak daily fatalities, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington in Seattle has produced models that the White House follows closely to make quarantine decisions.

Ali Mokdad, IHME’s chief strategy officer, told Fox News on Friday night that the U.S. had reached its maximum that day, April 10.

As for the five large European and hardest-hit countries, IHME has this model peak projection: France, April 17; Germany, April 29; Italy, April 20; Spain, May 3; and the United Kingdom, May 3.

All of the countries have imposed population and business lockdowns to some degree, although President Trump, unlike European leaders, has left the decision up to governors and local leaders.

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