CLAIM: U.S. President Donald Trump alleged this week the coronavirus case fatality rate (CFR) in the United States “is among the lowest, if not the lowest, in the developed world.”
VERDICT: Partially True. On Thursday evening, case fatality rate data provided by Johns Hopkins University showed there are several countries deemed developed by international bodies like the United Nations— in Europe and beyond — with a much lower CFR than the United States’ 4.4 percent.
Iceland appears to have the lowest case fatality rate in Europe at 0.5 percent. Several other European countries are in the 1-3 percent range.
However, the United States does have a lower case fatality rate when compared to some of the more prominent developed countries, primarily located in Europe: Belgium (15.7), United Kingdom (15.4), France (14.5), Italy (14.4), Netherlands (12.1), Spain (11.3), Canada (8.1), Sweden (7.4), Ireland (6.8), Slovenia (6.4) Switzerland (6.1), Greece (5.4) Japan (4.9), Germany (4.6,) Denmark (4.6), and Finland (4.5), among others.
The CFR does not account for silent cases — asymptomatic and mild infections that do not require medical attention. It is merely the number of deaths divided by the number of confirmed cases. Health analysts have noted that CFR is higher than the infection (true) fatality rate (IFR), which does account for silent cases.
There is a patchwork of global policies for how each country reports deaths and cases that may impact the CFR, with some nations reporting probable infections and fatalities while others do not.
The country’s “demographics” and “characteristics of the healthcare system” may also result in differences in the mortality figures of different countries, Johns Hopkins University explained.
U.S. health officials may be reporting more deaths and cases than other developed nations.