The European Union has “nearly three times” the novel coronavirus mortality rate that the United States is currently facing, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence told reporters on Monday, echoing Dr. Deborah Birx.
Both Pence and Birx are high-ranking members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force.
During a press briefing on Monday, Pence and Birx attributed the lower United States death rate to the response from the federal and state governments in addition to well-equipped hospitals, the dedication of healthcare workers, and mitigation efforts put into practice by the American people, among other things.
Some studies have revealed that the coronavirus death rate in the United States is lower than initially projected. A study mentioned by the Economist magazine over the weekend placed the fatality rate at 0.1 percent, noting that it was similar to that of the seasonal flu.
On Monday, Pence, the leader of the White House task force, declared:
[W]hen you look at the European Union as a whole, they have nearly three times the mortality rate that the United States of America has today, and that is a tribute to our extraordinary healthcare workers, their dedication, their tireless work. But it is also a tribute to the fact that the American people put into practice the mitigation efforts that the president counseled the nation to do on the advice of our best scientists now more than a month ago. And our hospitals were not overwhelmed and are not overwhelmed at this hour.
Pence went on to urge Americans that “as we see the numbers leveling and maybe even beginning to go down … keep doing what you are doing because of the sacrifices that Americans and American families have made by these mitigation efforts you are saving lives, and you are saving our nation through this time.”
Dr. Birx, the coordinator of the White House task force, also acknowledged that the U.S. death rate associated with the illness caused by the coronavirus is lower than that of the E.U., telling reporters:
Our mortality is less when you combine European countries equal to the size of the United States, and I think this is really [the result of] two things: One, it is the incredible work of the American people, but that it is also the incredible work of our healthcare providers and the system of each of these hospitals that have the resources and the ability to respond to the needs of the COVID-19 patients. And I think you can really see the superb healthcare delivery that is happening by the low mortality.
Pence conceded that absent any mitigation efforts, the U.S. death rate could be much worse.
He told reporters:
Despite the heartbreaking loss of more than 22,000 Americans, when you look at the fact of what the health experts told us this could be, I think I only can feel a sense of gratitude to the American people, gratitude to the extraordinary team that has counseled this president, the steps that President [Donald] Trump has taken, the policies that governors have implemented all across America.
As of noon on Tuesday, the coronavirus had infected more than 580,000 people and killed over 23,700 in the United States, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker.
On March 11, Trump prohibited the entry of all European residents attempting to come to the U.S. over the next 30 days.
He implemented a similar travel ban on China, the birthplace of the novel coronavirus, in late January.