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Failure of US Handling of the Corona Virus Pandemic: Germany vs US

Normally, I never write blogs every three days, but here I go. Since I am a scientist, not a politician, my quantitative assessment will be based on a careful analysis of the available data.

The bottom line of this blog is shown in Figure 0.  First, there are all incremental deaths in the US over and above German deaths multiplied by four to scale the German population to the size of the US population (the blue curve).  Second, for the reasons described below, one can subtract 1/3 of the US deaths that occurred in nursing homes.  These deaths have been caused by 40 years of neglect and the horrific state of the US for-profit industry that mines old people. The remaining 35,000 incremental deaths in the US (the red curve) can be attributed to the disastrous policies of the federal government under Trump.  That's nearly twelve 9/11 body counts in the US, with more to come.

Figure 0.  The excess deaths in the US compared with German deaths multiplied by four to account for the sizes of the two populations.  On can put 1/3 of the US deaths, or 27,000 deaths, squarely at the feet of the US medical mining industry in charge of the long term nursing facilities for the elderly, and of the state governments that have not been inspecting these facilities. The rest, roughly 35,000 incremental US deaths thus far, can be assigned to the incompetence of the Trump administration. Source: Patzek's calculations based on the Worldometers data of May 9, 2020, 24:00 GMT.

My dear fellow Americans, please ponder this plot if you want to continue supporting Trump.  In terms of the number of  victims,  he has already won with the hideous US medical insurance companies that have been mining the US nursing facilities for forty years, ever since Reagan came to power. Who can still say that Trump is not the best?

The only semi-certain statistic in the COVID-19 pandemic is the number of deaths attributed to the virus. As I wrote here, and here and here, the COVID-19 death reports may be significantly understated, but for the developed countries they are as good as it gets.

Let's start from making the following assumption: Both Germany and the United States of America are developed countries.  This assumption is rather self-evident for the social-democratic Germany, with an incredible healthcare system and social net that reaches most of the German citizens.  The America I inhabit is a developed country, but in general America is about mining her population.  The poorer you are, the more you and your family are mined, until you completely check out from the sociopolitical system.

The unflappable Trump supporters are neither stupid nor "undesirable,"  but simply view Trump as a destroyer of the system they hate. These supporters are so dismayed with the establishment, that they don't mind being a collateral damage of the thorough and deep destruction of almost everything the rich America values (other than getting even richer, all the time). In summary, America is a mixture of the impoverished third world countries, several of them, intermingled with the disjoint enclaves of civilization and social development. Since most Americans, just like the Russians, think that our/their country is the best in the world, exceptional and so on, let me break the news (and my heart)  to too many of you, my fellow Americans. When comparing ourselves to other developed countries, less than 20 of them, we should be pitied much more than congratulated.

Prior to making any quantitative comparisons, it then follows that America could never react to the COVID-19 pandemic as swiftly and comprehensively as Germany did. This statement is true regardless of  the magnitude 7.8 earthquake, tsunami and firestorm that together are the Trump administration.

The ravaging of America started in 1980, under the demented President Reagan and counterfeit "Gipper," who ceded presidential power to several dangerous and ambitious criminals, who in return gave us the Savings and Loans crisis, Iran Contra, and - past Reagan - the 9/11, the everlasting wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and Trump. Unfortunately, every subsequent president after Reagan has added to the ever-accelerating mining and destruction of America's social infrastructure to benefit very few, like me. The Bush II administration, with the same Reagan criminals in power again, stood out in 2008, contributing richly to the global financial collapse. But this was news before 2020. Now we have Trump and a real, industrial scale global economic collapse.

OK, let me give you one more example, why we cannot be comparing fairly a truly developed country, like Germany, with a wild west mining town, like America.  This example is furnished by the places where we - as in the contemporary American society - put our elderly to die in loneliness and neglect, while the families of the elderly are mined for cash. The endearing term for these all-too-often death traps is "nursing homes".

My wife is a physical therapist, who has been trying to help the helpless victims, er, residents, there for almost 30 years. There is no end to her war stories from the nursing homes in Oakland, Fremont, Richmond, Walnut Creek, and many other places in California.  All too often, the drugged out victims in soiled diapers cried out for help and the under-educated, unprepared and low-paid  "nursing aids" would threaten my wife with physical assault if she complained to the county governments, as she often did. You get the point, so here is the punchline.

In the US, 1/3 of all COVID-19 deaths occurred in the long-term nursing facilities for the elderly. Such a carnage simply could not have happened in Germany, and it is not the fault of the Trump administration, but of the entire US medical mining system. The best gold and silver miners in the world.

Figure 1. The corona virus-infected long term nursing facilities in the US. Eleven percent of the confirmed CV cases and 33% of CV-related deaths occurred there in the last two months. In New Jersey, for example, half of all deaths occurred in nursing homes, including 72 dead veterans in one facility. Source the New York Times, 05/09/2020.

The corona virus deaths in Germany and US.  For both countries, the Gaussians are almost identical, but with one major difference.  The heights of the German Gaussians in Figures 2 and 3, must be multiplied by a factor of ten to fit the American deaths in Figures 4 and 5.

Figure 2.  The COVID-19 death rate in Germany is described by the Gaussians that are almost identical to those in the US, but whose heights are ten times less. Source: Patzek's calculations based on the Worldometers data of May 9, 2020, 24:00 GMT.

Figure 3.  The COVID-19 deaths in Germany have an almost identical shape to those in the US, but their magnitude is ten times smaller.  Source: Patzek's calculations based on the Worldometers data of May 9, 2020, 24:00 GMT.

Figure 4.  The COVID-19 death rate in the US has followed the same trend as two days ago. Source: Patzek's calculations based on the Worldometers data of May 9, 2020, 24:00 GMT.

Figure 5.  The COVID-19 deaths in the US have followed the same trend as two days ago. Source: Patzek's calculations based on the Worldometers data of May 9, 2020, 24:00 GMT.

A comparison of COVID-19 mortality in the US and Germany.  Since the population of Germany is 80 million people and that of US 320 million people, we need to multiply the German deaths by a factor of four to make a meaningful comparison.  The results are shown in Figures 6 and 7.
Figure 6.  The COVID-19 US deaths, and four times the German deaths. Source: Patzek's calculations based on the Worldometers data of May 9, 2020, 24:00 GMT. 

Figure 7. The US and 4 times the German death rate Gaussians to scale out the population sizes. Source: Patzek's calculations based on the Worldometers data of May 9, 2020, 24:00 GMT.

In summary, comparing the US with Germany is quite unpleasant. It reminds us that the sheer greed of US corporations, and the incompetence of  Trump's federal government and many state governments have contributed thus far to 63,000 deaths in the US over and above those in Germany scaled up to the US population size.  This estimate is likely to increase with time.

P.S. (05/13/2020) Here is a 2020 census-based snapshot of the extreme geographical and social inequalities in the US. This snapshot supports my doubts whether the US can still be called a developed country.  For 40-60 million Americans, the US they inhabit no longer is a developed country.  How did we stray so far from the noble ideas and deeds of the 1936-onward New Deal?

P.S.P.S. (05/18/2020) An interactive map of health risks from diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, etc. by county in the US.

P.S.^3 (05/20/2020).  It saddens me even more that my 10-day old estimate of 35,000 unecssary deaths in the US caused by the delays and inconsistencies of the federal government policies, agrees almost exactly with an estimate published today by the New York Times.


  1. "In the US, 1/3 of all COVID-19 deaths occurred in the long-term nursing facilities for the elderly. Such a carnage simply could not have happened in Germany"

    I understand that in the current situation it is difficult to stay calm and rational, but your argument does not pass a scientific filter. It is obvious for me (German in Austrian exile) that at least 40% of the German covid-19 deaths happend in care homes:

    (Table 3 contains the cases for which complete data set are available, they cover around 80% of all cases (9000). Therefore, 3600 deaths out of 9000 is the German best case scenario.)

    The more plausible thesis is that care home can actually not really be protected, a higher infection level of young people simply means that more care homes are hit, the share of care home deaths will be very similar in most countries, the absolute number however only depends on the infection level outside the care homes and does not really depend on the quality of the care homes.

    Greeting from Graz!

    1. Dear Anonymous,
      First thank you for a reply. People who read my blogs, the many thousands of them, are frozen and choose not to comment at all.

      Second, I stand corrected, you cannot protect nursing homes well. But, if you divide the number of US deaths in nursing homes as of June 21, 2020, by four, you get 51,000/4=12,750 deaths, which is 3.54 times more than the 3600 deaths in Germany adjusted for the population ratio. Thus, why so many more people died in the US nursing homes? May be because they make profits first and care for anything else second? Please read my subsequent blog posts.

      Perhaps then all COVID-19 cases were treated better in Germany than in the US, noting the generally older population in Germany. There is a reason why the US is now reaching 100,000 incremental deaths over and above the German death toll times four. This reason is the rest of the key socio-economic factors. The superb medical care for all in Germany is the first reason. I have many close friends who live in Germany and have received a lot of medical care there. I cringe when I see differences.

  2. Sorry for postimg without name!

    I am Olaf Kunert (University of Graz).

    "Thus, why so many more people died in the US nursing homes? "

    Because the infection level OUTSIDE the nursing homes was much higher in the USA, this means that the virus is tranmitted more easily into a nursing home, i.e. the absolute number and number per capita of hit nursing homes is much higher in the USA.

    A hit nursing home in Germany or Austria shows the same picture as in the USA:
    Many deaths among the elder.

    Quality of ICU treatment may be a second aspect. The survival rate in German hospitals is higher then in the USA or UK, do not ask me why, however, it was predicted by experts, so there must be structural or demographic(?) differences.

  3. Thank you, Olaf. We spent 3 days in the villages around Gratz, just after the 9/11 that caught us in Vienna at the IEA annual meeting. There was no limit to the open hearts and support we received from the farmers. My spoken German is very weak, and they did not speak any English, but the depth of connection and human understanding was stunning. I will remain eternally grateful to them.

    Answering your question about quality of care and flow of information among hospitals that in the US are in competition was insufficient at the beginning and very uneven. The best US clinics, such as UCSF (only because I know it so well, and my daughter is doctor and researcher there) are on par or better than any hospital in the world. But the hospitals for profit are much weaker and very uneven. Their main goal is to squeeze out a profit. Caring for the patients is secondary. Thus, on the average, the German state-run healthcare system is far superior to the US one, and could react and learn much faster about, for example, blood thinners, etc.

    This blog was written two months ago. Today, the number of incremental COVID-19 deaths in the US, over and above the German deaths times four, is 100,000! We have failed miserably, and our private hospital system must be nationalized and run properly, like the German one. There is no shortage of delusional fools here who, starting in 1992, were gradually convinced by the likes of that psychopath, Rush Limbaugh, that it is better to commit suicide with their families and no medical care, than be saved by a single-payer centralized medical system for all. The most amazing part of that Grand American Lie about the Land of the Free is that the profits from mining those fools go to the very people for whom they vote. What a sweet deal for the predatory killers, who use 30 million of desperate uninformed people as cheap manure. Today, these people are too brain-washed to use their senses and what's left of their corroded brains to change. Goebbels would be impressed. Sad.


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