Trump and Covid-19

Lately, I receive emails from fellow Physicists in the US horrified by my support for Trump. A few of them are full of profanities or plainly anti-Semitic. Others tell me: The US is the country with most deaths in the world: 200,000 deaths! How can I support a President who does not listen to Science and has led us to this situation?

Well, for one, I would rather side with a person who does not claim to be a scientist and says factually wrong statements than a bunch of physicists that either do not know basic math or who purposely are misleading the public, just to get rid of a president they do not like.

Factually speaking, the parameter that counts is not the absolute number of deaths but the number of deaths per million inhabitants.

Western European countries similar to the US, in spite of being governed by politicians who proclaim day and night to their constituents their adherence to Science and the scientific methods, have essentially similar results than the US: The number of deaths per million inhabitants in France is 478, In Italy is 594, in the USA is 631, in the UK is 633 and in Spain is 682. [1] The present second wave spreading fast in Europe may equalize these numbers even more.

What seems to characterize all these European countries and the US, what makes them ‘similar’, is that they are all well-developed democracies where the individual rights are held in high regard and that are presently highly politically divided societies.

I did not include in the above list two countries: Germany and Sweden [2].

Germany does not fit the above characterization. In Germany, generally speaking, people of different political orientations do not hate each other: they speak and listen to each other, although even here cracks are beginning to emerge: it is difficult to keep tight social restrictions on individuals for a long time. Its present death rate (number of deaths per million inhabitants) is 115.

Sweden chose a different path: no lockdowns and no face mask coverings. One cannot accuse the Sweden government for not being guided by science. But instead of emphasizing “Physics” (or Natural Sciences) the Sweden government seems to have emphasized “Social Science”. Its guiding principle seems to have been the following: the pandemic will last not a few months but several years: this is not a sprint but a marathon. So, instead of imposing a very restrictive set of rules that the population will not be able to abide for long and that will lead to social unrest or economic meltdown, Sweden decided to have less restrictive rules, guided by a simple set of sound principles and rules that everyone can understand and follow [3].

The death rate in Sweden is 578 deaths per million inhabitants, a number similar to the ones in France, Italy, US, UK and Spain, where strict lockdowns and face mask requirements were implemented.

[1] How these numbers were obtained? Google: “Covid-19 death in the …” and replace the dots with the country name. You will get a nice graph and the total number of deaths so far in that country due to Covid-19. Then google: “… population in 2019” and replace the dots with the country name. You will get the population of that country in 2019. Then divide these two numbers to get the death rate, or number of deaths per million inhabitants of that country.

[2] I did not include either small European countries (in population number and area), where different cultural and social specific factors may apply.

[3] Folkhalsomyndigheten: Public Health Agency of Sweden:

https://www.folkhalsomyndigheten.se/the-public-health-agency-of-sweden/communicable-disease-control/covid-19/

About the Author
Jaime Kardontchik has a PhD in Physics from the Technion, Israel Institute of Technology. He lives in the Silicon Valley, California.
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