Early Action Saves 91,000 Lives

Note: This post was was last updated on May 12.


When pandemic strikes, early action saves lives. 

The United States’ and Spain’s responses to COVID provide a study in comparison.

Spain suffered its first COVID infections and COVID deaths much earlier than the United States.

But controlling for time and population, Spain has suffered far more than the U.S.: a per capita COVID fatality rate greater than twice the United States’s at an equivalent point of time (50 days since each country’s first COVID death).

Days since first COVID death in countrySpain COVID deaths per million SpaniardsU.S. COVID deaths per million Americans
1 day1.11.3
21 days199.366.8
32 days365.4151.6
50 days521.1244.9
61 days567.8[U.S. not there yet]

(See here for more U.S. and global COVID data.)

Much, though not all, of the United States acted early and aggressively to contain COVID. Spain’s COVID data — which arguably reflects Spain’s not-overly-aggressive initial response — provides a benchmark of comparison.

What might the United States COVID fatality rate look like if we had dragged out our response? What is the difference between a 66.8 and a 199.3 fatality rate per million residents 21 days removed from the first COVID death?

In this scenario, the U.S. acting early amounts to having saved 91,000 lives, as of May 12.

This lives-saved statistic will grow substantially as the difference between a slow-action and aggressive-action scenario aggregates with time.

Acting now does save lives.

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