Comparing COVID-19 Regimes

It was yesterday, I believe, that I started talking about Trump as nitwit, Mr. Sum considered, warning himself about the ease with which coronavirus data is interpreted by left and by right. It is not that simple to link the progress of the pandemic to the behavior of regimes in jurisdictions. In the interview by Jonathan Swan that aired Monday night, Trump seemed to have a black-out when Swan told him that in many cases you would do well when comparing numbers between states and their regimes to standardize them.

For example, the average income in terms of GDP per capita will look familiar to Trump. You can do something similar with a different value: the general domestic number of coronavirus deaths per capita. Not GDP but GDD. That is going to be a very small number. It is therefore better to translate it into the number of corona deaths per million inhabitants. I call that the GDD number. The lower the better.

Those numbers are available everywhere, but not often handy side by side, to compare countries. I have been preparing for a while such comparison (between the PRC, US, France, UK, NL, Brazil and the world) based on how individual citizens choose to behave and regimes choose to rule them, Mr. Sum thought, but it will be a while before I get presentable results. But I can give an overview of what Trump did not want to or could not see (Fig. 1).

Fig. 1 What Trump did not want to or could not see

If Trump remains of the opinion that you cannot use a gross national death toll per million citizens to compare, I have finished, Sum thought, and if a people prefers a regime led by such an intellect, there must be very important other problems on the agenda.

Mister Sum is a Dutchman who worried until the end of May because the Netherlands did worse in GDD terms (had a higher GDD number) than the US, while we all felt we were becoming the best boy in class. It seems that in terms of GDD we have since actually reached that position, not close to but direct behind China. (Yet we also know that the number of infections in the Netherlands has been rising exponentially for two weeks now. But this an aside here. We have to wait and see how our population and our regime will decide to cope or not cope.)

In terms of attitudes of regimes, Fig. 1 shows something remarkable. Where the severity of the pandemic is downplayed by the leaders, the GDD-numbers continue to rise the most. The UK has definitely taken the red lantern and has only reacted after the hospitalization of its Prime Minister, which has meanwhile resulted in some flattening dynamics. The US and Brazil are well on their ways to push the UK out of last position.

Whoever wants to compare the effectiveness of the COVID-19 policy within this group of six countries, now sees the US acting as the penultimate and on the way to an even greater backlog.

PS. In this view, the world seems to be doing very well. That is not true. In terms of COVID-19 dynamics, the world is simply following what is happening in states.