Every Country Has a Different COVID-19 Story

Germany's armed forces receive people with possible COVID-19 symptoms yesterday in Sankt Wendel, Germany. Image: Alexander Scheuber/Getty
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Germany's armed forces receive people with possible COVID-19 symptoms yesterday in Sankt Wendel, Germany. Image: Alexander Scheuber/Getty

Why is Italy’s startling COVID-19 death rate—7.2%—so much higher than China’s 2.3%?
 
JAMA commentary posits several reasons. Italy’s population is relatively older, and the country has a higher proportion of cases—and a higher death rate—among over-70s, CIDRAP reports.
 
There are also reporting differences: In Italy, the death of anyone COVID-19-positive is attributed to the virus, regardless of underlying conditions.
 
Italian doctors penned a letter in The Lancet urging other countries to learn from their experiences.

Germany tells yet another story, CNN reportsThe country’s infection pattern is similar to that of France and the US, where middle-aged and older people appear most affected—yet Germany’s death rate stands at just 0.4%.
 
Why? Early and widespread testing—and a cluster of early cases among relatively healthy other people—may have kept the death rate relatively low so far. But a wave of very sick people could quickly raise that death rate in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, Iceland—population 364,000—is offering COVID-19 testing to everyone in the country, regardless of whether they have symptoms, BuzzFeed News reports.
 
Early results confirm that the virus is spreading widely among asymptomatic individuals, and that’s useful insight for other countries who have only been testing selectively.
 
The country’s testing has found the equivalent of 10,405 cases per million population, compared to 764 in the UK and 2,478 in Italy.

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