I had an interesting discussion with someone online in which I attempted to explain how deep the poo is in which the United States finds itself. I initially reiterated the data about Taiwan and Australia which I had written before, on April 21 (when Australia had 6645 cases and 72 deaths)1. As I said then, the country which most effectively dealt with the Covid-19 pandemic was Taiwan (population 23 million) which has 441 cases and 7 deaths. Australia (population 25 million) now has about 7,150 cases and 103 deaths. The Unites States has now passed 1,745,000 cases and 102,114 of its people have died2. The fact that the US has a population 13-14 times of both Australia and Taiwan, and a 1000 times the number of deaths of Australia and over 14,500 times that of Taiwan indicates how badly the US has done.
When I said this, the person with whom I was having the discussion, mentioned that the pandemic was not over, and that the US has a much larger population, so it was too early to pass an opinion on how well or badly a country has done in coping with the pandemic. However, while you can never get an accurate account of how countries have done until the pandemic is done and dusted, there are simple indicators in the current data which demonstrate how well or badly various countries are doing. It depends on where countries are in the development of the pandemic. In the case of Taiwan, it recently had one new case on May 22nd, the first since May 7th; its maximum daily case number was 37 on March 20th3. In Australia’s case, we are finding about 15 new cases per day after peaking at 460 daily on March 28th4. So, Australia and Taiwan are well through the worst of the pandemic (barring a second wave). The US peak of daily new cases was 36,300 on April 24th. While the peak has passed, yesterday in the US, they still had had 18,300 new cases3. That is more or less the equivalent of Australia still having 230 new cases a day, as a proportion of its maximum number of daily new cases.
One of the statistics which indicates the penetration of the virus into a country is the total number of recorded cases per million population. In Taiwan, that is 19 cases per million; in Australia it is much larger at 281 per million. In the US, it is 5,278, a staggering number. Given the rate of new cases per day, Taiwan’s daily increase in cases per million is negligible. In Australia the increase in the cases per million is 0.6 per day. For instance, if that rate continues for the next 100 days Australia would have 281 + 100 (0.6) = 341 cases per million, an increase of 21%. In the US, the 18,300 daily cases is 55.3 cases per million. If that, similarly, was to continue for the next 100 days, the US would have 5,287 + 100 (55) = 10,787 cases per million, an increase of 104%. That is the trajectory on which the US finds itself, and that is nothing less than disastrous. In the 1918-1919 pandemic, the US lost 675,000 people5. One can only hope this doesn’t happen again. The fact that the Mango Mussolini and his sycophants are so obviously and completely out of their depth in dealing with something as complex as responding to a pandemic, doesn’t fill me with a great deal of confidence that such a disaster can be avoided.
We should not be too smug in Australia as it was only the application of pressure from the states which forced Morrison’s hand into shutting down the country to minimise the transmission of the virus. After all, Morrison was planning to attend a National Rugby League game on the weekend of March 14, three weeks after Taiwan had cancelled sporting events. That is the difference between Taiwan’s 7 deaths and Australia’s 103.