Power Line

Recent Wuhan coronavirus numbers

The number of new Wuhan coronavirus reported cases in the U.S. (per Worldometer) continued to rise on Monday and Tuesday, though not dramatically. On Sunday, the number was 9,339; on Monday it was 10,168; and on Tuesday (March 24) it was 11,075.

Reported deaths in the U.S. rose from 117 to 140 to 225. The total count is now 780 with most of them coming in the past three days.

Italy remains the hardest hit among countries whose data can be trusted. Its number of new reported cases remained pretty constant in the past new days, as did its number of new reported deaths.

In Spain, by contrast, there was a spike in both new reported cases and new reported deaths. The number of new reported cases doubled from Sunday to Tuesday and the number of new reported deaths jumped from around 400, to more than 500, to nearly 700.

The one number that stands out to me is the death total in Germany. Right now, Germany has around 33,000 reported cases, Spain has about 42,000, and France around 22,000. Yet, Germany reports only 159 dead, compared to around 3,000 in Spain and around 1,100 in France.

According to a Washington Post chart, the death rate in Germany is 0.4 percent. This compares to 9.5 percent in Italy, 6.8 percent in Spain, and 4.3 in France. In the U.S., the reported rate is 1.3 percent.

The Post discusses possible explanations for the low death count in Germany. The main explanation, according to the Post, is that Germany “tracked, tested, contained infection clusters” in the early days of the outbreak.

Tracking and testing is an important practice. I hope we begin doing this effectively in parts of the U.S. where the outbreak has been limited so far. (In hard hit areas, it’s probably too late.)

I would have thought, however, that the main benefit of tracking and testing resides in limiting the number of new cases, rather than the number of deaths among people who contract the virus.

Other possible explanations for the low German death rate (so far) are that (1) the outbreak began among a young population (young people returning from vacations) (2) Germany provides better medical care than, say, Italy, and (3) the outbreak in Germany lagged behind countries like Italy (it takes a while for the virus to kill).

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