COVID Misery and Response Rankings

Canada’s Macdonald-Laurier Institute created a COVID Misery Index. They compared the misery experienced by Canada against 14 other nations.

They used 16 measures for which there is sufficient data from the comparison countries and divide them into three broad categories:
disease misery, which looks at data related to the direct impact of COVID-19 on populations;
response misery, which reflects the recommendations and restrictions implemented by governments; and
economic misery, which measures the financial impact of lockdowns and borrowing on individuals and governments.

There have been the widely followed metrics COVID cases, COVID ICU cases and COVID deaths per million.

It should be noted that countries self-report COVID metrics. It is certain that many countries and regions have bad records and most are reporting false metrics. COVID metrics are highly political. Most countries in Africa do not have a general population census. Many countries do not want to count the growth of minority populations. China has delayed reporting its 2020 population census because they do not want to admit to a declining population or rapidly declining population growth.

Deaths are not properly counted or recorded in many countries. Countries that have virtually no medical system where births cannot be kept clean with $1 to $2 kits are unable to determine if there are COVID deaths.

In richer countries with high-quality mortality reporting systems nearly 100% of deaths are registered, but in many low- and middle-income countries undercounting of mortality is a serious issue. The UN estimates that only two-thirds of countries register at least 90% of all deaths that occur, and some countries register less than 50% — or even under 10% — of deaths. Mortality data is usually provisional and incomplete in the weeks, months, and even years after a death occurs.

The level of the problem can be determined by seeing that South Africa is reporting the highest COVID cases and COVID deaths. South Africa has better per capita income and has a medical system. Are the other African countries virtually immune to COVID or are they failing to count, unable to count or unwilling to count or unwilling to report true numbers.

In 1918, the Spanish flu was hitting the USA and other European countries. Spain was almost the only country openly reporting its flu cases because Spain was neutral in WW1. Warring nations hid reports or downplayed them.

MLI also looks at excess death metrics from Our World in Data. Excess mortality age 15+ and excess mortality for 85+. Theses measure captures the change in mortality rate from the same week of the previous year for all individuals aged 15 and above or 85 and above. Nations locked down to free up capacity in hospitals in anticipation of a large influx of COVID-19 admissions, other health care needs were postponed or canceled. These actions could and did often cause increased mortality. This measure captures the average difference between the same week in the previous year and is averaged across the duration of the pandemic.

Excess death metrics can also be gamed but might be less likely to be gamed. Very few people are looking at the excess death metrics.

The Australian Lowy Institute created a systemic ranking system for COVID impact and response by countries.

SOURCES – MLI, Lowy Institute, World in Data,
Written by Brian Wang,