Oct 22, 2020 - Health

Many U.S. coronavirus deaths were avoidable

Data: National Center for Disaster Preparedness; Chart: Sara Wise/Axios
Data: National Center for Disaster Preparedness; Chart: Sara Wise/Axios

If the U.S. death rate had matched that of other wealthy countries, between about 55,000 and 215,000 Americans would still be alive, according to a scathing new analysis by Columbia University's National Center for Disaster Preparedness.

Why it matters: These countries have taken a significantly different approach to the virus than the U.S., providing yet another example that things didn't have to be this way.

  • "Had the U.S. government implemented an 'averaged' approach that mirrored these countries ... a minimum of 130,000 COVID-19 deaths might have been avoidable given alternate policies, implementation, and leadership," the authors write.
  • "This discrepancy, which continues to grow daily, provides objective crude measure for assessing the government response to this unprecedented health emergency."

Between the lines: The analysis points to several factors that set the U.S. response apart from other countries', including insufficient testing and contact tracing, a delayed initial response, the lack of a national mask mandate or guidance, politicization and the "failure of top officials to model best practices."

  • "Particularly, it is the inability or unwillingness of U.S. officials to adapt or improve the federal response over the course of the pandemic that has strongly contributed to the nation's uniquely high COVID-19 fatality rate," the authors conclude.
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