In the first study, researchers at Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania compared COVID-19–related death rates in the United States through Sep 19 with those in 18 other countries with populations exceeding 5 million and at least $25,000 per capita gross domestic product. They also compared rates of death from any cause for 14 countries with available data through Jul 25.
By Sep 19, the United States had recorded 198,589 COVID-19–related deaths, for a death rate of 0.06%, higher than countries with low and moderate coronavirus death rates but similar to those with high death rates. For example, the death rate in Australia, considered a low-mortality country, was 0.003%, while Canada, a moderate-mortality country, had a 0.02% death rate.
On the high-mortality end of the spectrum, Italy's COVID-19 death rate was 0.06%, while Belgium's was 0.09% throughout the pandemic. But, since May 10, the United States' rate has exceeded that of all other countries studied.
If the coronavirus death rate in the United States were similar to that of Australia, it would have had 187,661 fewer COVID-19 deaths (94% of reported deaths), and, compared with Canada, it would have had 117,622 fewer deaths (59%).
Before May 10, the U.S. in had a lower coronavirus death rate than other high-mortality countries, but after that date, all six of the other high-mortality countries (Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom) had lower death rates than the United States. For example, Italy's death rate from May 10 to Sep 19 was 0.01%, compared with 0.04% in the United States.
The patterns for COVID-19 deaths and excess all-cause deaths were similar in the 14 countries with available all-cause death rates. Countries with a moderate coronavirus death rate saw only slight increases in deaths from any cause, but those with high coronavirus death rates also saw high excess all-cause death rates (for example, 0.1% in Spain and 0.07% in the United States). But since May 10, the United States has had the highest all-cause death rate of all high-mortality countries.