November Update: Is the U.S. Performing Well Combating the Coronavirus Among Peers?

With media reports coming in daily or hourly it can be difficult to tell where the US stands among its peers. We evaluate the data to find out how the US ranks against its peers. We updated our last analysis with the most recent performance (last 2 weeks) with US peer countries. 


COVID-19 has swept through nearly every country on the planet with varying degrees. Many strategies have been employed by each, some similar and some very different. Politicians ultimately will say what is in their best interest, media outlets can report outlying news and many parts of the U.S. have seen a fall surge in cases.


We take an empirical and objective look at the data to identify how the U.S. relates to its peers, countries we feel have a similar enough culture, government, and population. These countries include Germany, France, Italy, Spain, The United Kingdom and, of course, the U.S. We also added Sweden considering their unusual strategy employed to combat the virus.

The Data

We collected case information on the above countries for the past month and created a case per million statistic for each to weight each based on population (a country with a larger population is expected to have more cases than one with a smaller population). We took that information and ranked each country. However, a simple rank does not give any indication of true performance, or acceptable performance. The data used is as of November 1st 202 due to the lag in country data reporting.

Taking it a step further we created a normal distribution of the above countries. Once we had this, we were able to mark the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd standard deviations. We ranked any country ranking over the mean and 1st standard deviation as ‘Good’. Any country falling under the mean and 1st standard deviation as ‘Very Good’. Countries falling lower than 1 standard deviation we ranked as Excellent. No country fell lower than two standard deviations. Any country that fell above the mean and between the 1st and 2nd standard deviations we ranked as Good, between the 2nd and 3rd standard deviation ‘Poor’ and above the 3rd standard deviation as bad. Anything else was ‘Failing’.

The Results

We considered three variables for our analysis and weighted them equally. Cases per million, Tests per million and Deaths per million. When we undertook our original analysis, New York to be such a large outlier we would need to omit it in our results due to its outlier status. During this analysis we did not need omit New York as that state has come into line with the remainder of the world.

Sweden, with its controversial strategy of herd immunity, also generated some interesting findings. Sweden ranked in the middle of our distribution with its final score.  Surprisingly, Sweden’s cases per million was the lowest of all US Peer countries. Not the expected low ranked we presumed considering their strategy of tackling the virus.

Cases: We found a moderate dispersion for cases. Sweden and Germany ranked very good with their performance within one standard deviation over the average. The US, Italy, UK and Spain were all in the first standard deviation under the average, so we ranked them as good.  The US ranked 3rd.  France and the Netherlands were ranked poor.

Deaths: We found a large dispersion for deaths and was the largest of the three factors we rated. Again, Germany and Sweden ranked ‘very good’ at about 3 deaths per million each. Spain ranked the worst at 3 deaths per million and the remainder of the countries ranked ‘good’ coming within one standard deviation of the average. The US ranked 5th here.

Tests: All but one country fell within the ‘good’ category. The United Kingdom ranked the best with over 4,000 tests per million and received a ‘very good’ score. The use ranked 3rd here, though all remaining countries were within the ‘good’ region.  

Finally, we weighted each of the above factors equally and issued an overall grade. Germany and Sweden ranked ‘very good’ followed by The Untied Kingdom with ‘good’ , followed by the US, Italy, also with ‘good’. Under performing countries were France, Spain and lastly the Netherlands. The US’s overall score was ‘good’ with a rank of 4, tied with Italy.


John Hopkins: