Coronavirus Growth in Western Countries: March 30 Update

Here’s the coronavirus growth rate through March 30. I have gotten many emails from Swedes telling me that weekends are sacred in Sweden and that’s why their numbers didn’t go up much on Saturday or Sunday. Nobody was at work to report them. Sure enough, they took a big jump on Monday and are now back on the Italian track. You can read more here about Sweden’s fatalistic approach to the pandemic. “Yes, there has been an increase,” explains their chief epidemiologist, “but it’s not traumatic so far. Of course, we’re going into a phase in the epidemic where we’ll see a lot more cases in the next few weeks, more people in the ICU, but that’s just like any other country — nowhere has been able to slow down the spread considerably.” Apparently the government is so trusted in Sweden that everyone is buying into this. It’s possible that we’re conducting a high-stakes field test here of whether high trust in government is necessarily a good thing.

FWIW, I’ve gotten some similar emails about Germany, suggesting that their low death rate is because they aren’t recording lots of COVID-19 deaths properly.  That could be, but I’d suggest that their death rate isn’t really all that low, so there’s nothing much to explain. Switzerland and the US are the only two countries that look solidly below the Italian trendline. Canada probably is too, but it’s a little too early to tell.

How to read the charts: Let’s use France as an example. For them, Day 0 was March 5, when they surpassed one death per 10 million by recording their sixth death. They are currently at Day 25; total deaths are at 505x their initial level; and they have recorded a total of 45.2 deaths per million so far. As the chart shows, this is slightly below where Italy was on their Day 25.

The raw data from Johns Hopkins is here.

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