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FACTS NOT FEAR: Is the pandemic worse in the US than anywhere else?

On Wednesday, the U.S. reported 150,000 deaths from COVID-19, by far more total deaths than any other country. However, it is not the most deaths per capita.

TYLER, Texas — Editor's Note: Video above is from a story determining impact of COVID-19 by comparing deaths from 2018 to 2020.

As July begins to come to a close, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to worse in the U.S. with more than 50,000 new cases reported on Wednesday.

Also on Wednesday, the United States passed a grim milestone in the pandemic: 150,000 Americans have now died from COVID-19 complications. That is roughly 60,000 more deaths than the next closest country, Brazil, which has reported 90,188 deaths, according to statistics from World Health Organization (WHO) and World Meter.

While those are big numbers, if the United States' population is taken into account, the U.S. actually ranks tenth in deaths per capita. That is not the only statistic that America's high population affects.

Total Cases

According to the WHO and World Meter, the United States reported 4,544,456 total cases of COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic, more than 2 million more cases than Brazil, the country with the second most reported cases. (Fig. 1)

Credit: KYTX
Fig. 2: Cases of COVID-19 by country per 1 million people

However, the total number of cases reported does not take into account the large populations of the United States, which is Worldo Meter puts at 331,161,027, based on Data by the United Nations. 

The same data puts the population of Chile, ranked 8th in total cases, at 19,128,483, a difference of more than 300 million people. So while the U.S. most definitely has the most cases, it does not have the worst number of cases per capita. In fact, the U.S. is ranked only 10th behind county's with much small populations. (Fig. 2)

Credit: KYTX
Fig. 2: Cases by country per 1 million people

While, the United States ranked 10th in this list, it should be noted that the U.S. is the only country in the top 10 with a population of more than 50 million. In fact, there are only seven countries in the top 50 in total cases per capital with a population that exceeds 50 million people: USA (10th), Brazil (12), South Africa (18), Russia (30), Columbia (33), United Kingdom (43) and Italy (45). (Fig. 3)

Credit: KYTX
Fig. 3: Total cases of COVID-19 per 1 million people with population more than 50 million

Total Deaths

As with total cases, the United States ranks far ahead in the rest of the world in terms of total COVID-19 deaths. With 153,539 deaths, the U.S. accounts for more than 20% of the total reported deaths worldwide, which stands at 669,052. (Fig. 4)

Credit: KYTX
Fig. 4: Total COVID-19 deaths by country

However, once again, if a country's total population is taken into consideration, the United States ranks 10th in total deaths per 1 million people. Unlike with total cases though, many European countries actually have higher deaths than the U.S., led by the Belgium, which has 848 deaths per 1 million people.

Credit: KYTX
Fig. 5: Deaths by country per 1 million people

As with total cases, if countries with a population below 50 million people are taken out of the equation, the United State still ranks third in deaths per one million people behind the United Kingdom and Italy. There are eight other countries with a population of more than 50 million people that rank in the top 50 in deaths per 1 million people: France (11), Brazil (12), Mexico (16), Iran (28), Colombia (30), South Africa (36), Germany (40) and Russia (47).

Where do states fit in the equation?

While the U.S. ranks 10th in both total cases per 1 million people and total deaths per 1 million people, several U.S. states rank higher.

For example, according to the CDC, Alabama has 82,530 cumulative cases of COVID-19. If compared to the rest of the world, Alabama would rank 30th in terms of total cases.

To figure out where Alabama  stands in total cases per 1 million people, one must divide the number of cases (82,530) by population (est. 4,903,000). Then take the result, or quotient, and multiply it by 1 million. Keeping in mind the Alabama population is an estimate in 2019, the result, or product, is an estimated 16,832. Thus, Alabama ranks sixth in the world in cases per 1 million people.


There are a number of stories that can be told from statistics. While the United States ranks first in both cases and deaths, the population of the U.S. contributes to that high number.

However, even among countries with a population of more than 50 million, the U.S. still ranks high compared to other countries with large populations.