Claim: Trump claims that the US has the lowest mortality rate in the world from COVID-19.
Rating: This claim is FALSE. The US has the fourth highest mortality rate in the world, as well as the most number of coronavirus cases for any country.
On August 3, 2020, HBO aired an interview with President Trump on the program “Axios on HBO” during which reporter Jonathan Swan questioned Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic. During this interview, Trump repeated several misleading claims about the government’s handling of COVID-19. Most notably, he presented charts about the US death rate from COVID-19 and stated, “Right here, the United States is lowest in numerous categories, we’re lower than the world, we’re lower than Europe.”
The way in which Trump calculated the death rate was misleading. When confronted by Swan, it turns out that Trump used a lower U.S. death rate by calculating the number of deaths in comparison to confirmed cases, which depends on the number of tests done. A more appropriate measure of the impact of the disease would be to calculate the death rate compared to the country’s overall population, which is how the Center for Disease Control (CDC) defines the mortality (death) rate.
According to statistics compiled by Johns Hopkins University, the US ranks the fourth highest for mortality rate as defined by proportion of the US population, among the 20 countries most affected by COVID-19.
(as of August 30th)
In the interview, both men specifically called out South Korea’s numbers compared to the US. At the time of the interview on Aug. 4, South Korea reported 300 deaths compared to its 51 million population (0.000588235%), while the US reported 156,753 deaths to 331 million population (0.047357401%). In other words, the US has a death rate that is 80 times worse than South Korea:
Conclusion: Trump misrepresented the US’s mortality rate from COVID-19 during his Axios interview. His struggling performance in the interview also highlighted Trump’s inability to comprehend the severity of the global pandemic and basic concepts like mortality rate. The full interview can be seen here.