Is the U.S. Performing Well Combating the Coronavirus Among Peers?

With media reports coming in daily or hourly it can be difficult to tell where the US stands among its peers. We evaluate the data to find out how the US ranks against its peers.

Background

COVID-19 has swept through nearly every country on the planet with varying degrees. Many strategies have been employed by each, some similar and some very different. Politicians ultimately will say what is in their best interest, media outlets can report outlying news and the majority of the U.S. is under quarantine which only adds to the frustration of not knowing how the country is performing.

Methodology

We take an empirical and objective look at the data to identify how the U.S. relates to its peers, countries we feel have a similar enough culture, government, and population. These countries include Germany, France, the UK, Italy, Spain, and, of course, the U.S. We also added Sweden considering their unusual strategy employed to combat the virus. During our analysis, we also realized that New York was a major outlier and skewed the entire normal distribution of the analysis. Considering this we also added two additional ‘countries’ in our analysis, the U.S. without New York state included (US ex NY) and New York State. We felt this would give us a better picture of how the overall U.S. is doing related to its policy.

The Data

We collected case information on the above countries and created a case per million statistic for each to weight each based on population (a country with a larger population is expected to have more cases than one with a smaller population). We took that information and ranked each country. However, a simple rank does not give any indication of true performance, or acceptable performance.

Taking it a step further we created a normal distribution of the above countries. Once we had this, we were able to mark the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd standard deviations. We ranked any country ranking over the mean and 1st standard deviation as ‘Good’. Any country falling under the mean and 1st standard deviation as ‘Very Good’. No country ranked better than this. Any country that fell above the mean and between the 1st and 2nd standard deviations we ranked as Good, between the 2nd and 3rd standard deviation Average and above the 3rd standard deviation as bad. Anything else was Terrible.

The Results

When we undertook this analysis, we understood New York was one of the U.S. epicenters of the pandemic. However, we did not anticipate it would be such a large outlier we would need to omit it in our results due to its outlier status. Had we kept New York in our analysis every country, except Spain, would have ranked ‘Excellent’ or ‘Very Good’. New York has such an outsized impact on the U.S.’s overall ranking that the U.S. without new York moved the U.S. more than 60% toward the first rank country, Germany.
Sweden, with its controversial strategy of herd immunity, also generated some interesting findings. Sweden ranked 2nd among peer countries in cases but fell down the rankings in deaths, possibly as a result of this strategy pushing on their healthcare capacity.

The U.S., with New York, still ranked in the ‘Good’ category. It fell under the 1st standard deviation. Omitting New York however drove the U.S.’s ranking in cases to 3rd and overall score to ‘Very Good’ with cases per million falling below the mean of the population. This represents that the actions the U.S. is taking at large are not only relatively effective but also performing very well.

Finally, New York’s ranking was last in both cases per million and deaths per million. New York state was literally off of our charts. Below we’ve included a chart sized appropriately to include New York in its relative place (note: it was outside the 3rd standard deviation and should normally be represented under the line, however, our graphing tool would not allow for this due to the sever outlier status). New York’s cases per million were triple Spain’s who was ranked as ‘Bad’.