The three countries that now have a worse COVID-19 death rate than the UK

Connor Parker
·4 min read
Portugal's health service has been overwhelmed with the influx of COVID-19 patients. (AP)
Portugal's health service has been overwhelmed with the influx of COVID-19 patients. (AP)

While the UK continues to see tragically high numbers of deaths from COVID-19, three nations now have a higher daily rate from the virus.

Portugal, Monaco and Lebanon now all have daily death rates per million people higher than the UK, according to Oxford University data platform Our World in Data.

Monaco now has the highest in the world with 29.12 people dying each day per million people.

Portugal follows closely behind with 28.09 and Lebanon is just ahead of the UK with 15.95, compared to Britain’s 15.7.

COVID-19 deaths per million people. (Our World In Data)
COVID-19 deaths per million people. (Our World In Data)

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The UK was seeing the highest death rate in the world as of 25 January, but has been overtaken in recent days.

It has still suffered far more overall deaths than the other three nations higher on the death rate list combined because its population is much higher.

The government says there have been 109,335 deaths from COVID-19 in the UK, although statistical agencies using different methods put that number above 120,000.

Only the US, Brazil, India, and Mexico have recorded more total COVID-19 deaths, all of which have significantly higher populations.

What’s gone wrong with Monaco, Lebanon and Portugal?

Lebanon has 6.8 million people and has been rocked hard by the pandemic and the explosion at its port last summer.

Much of its already poor health infrastructure has been affected by the aftermath of the blast as the city has been forced to deal with huge numbers of displaced people.

The nation is rampant with corruption and has been ill-equipped to deal with the pandemic.

Watch: How the UK went from one Covid-19 death to more than 100,000 in a year

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Portugal has a population of 10.28 million people and had an effective response to the pandemic during the first wave, even as neighbouring Spain suffered badly.

The country is now suffering heavily and politicians have blamed too much mixing at Christmas when social distancing rules were relaxed.

Some areas of its health service have been overwhelmed by an alarming surge in cases and has had to fly in medics from other EU nations.

They have also suffered from a rapid spread of the Kent variant of COVID-19 which is becoming dominant in the country and is much more infectious than the original strain.

Monaco has one of the smallest populations in the world with under 40,000 which affects the calculation – the country has only recorded 18 deaths in total.

What has the government said?

Minister have repeatedly dodged answering questions over why the UK’s death rate has been so high.

When confronted with the question in January, home secretary Priti Patel said ministers had followed scientific advice throughout the pandemic.

Without giving a direct answer she said: “I think importantly right now, in terms of our own approach as a government, our approach has always been informed by the professional advice, by scientists, by the scientific advisers, by the medics who advise government and that has always remained the case from day one and continues to remain the case too.”

Last week work and pensions secretary Therese Coffey cut short an interview on ITV’s Good Morning Britain after being asked about the high death rate.

She told the programme: “There’ll be a variety of reasons why people unfortunately have died because of this.

GMB co-presenter Piers Morgan then asked her: “Are you saying that the reason for us having the worst death rate in the world is because of the public – they’re too old and they’re too fat?”

Coffey replied: “I think that’s a very insulting thing you’ve just said.”

Seconds later, she turned off her camera and abandoned the call, saying she had to give another interview elsewhere.

On the same programme last Tuesday, Northern Ireland secretary Brandon Lewis said it was “too early” to explain the UK’s high death rate.

He said: “You can’t do a direct comparison of that type with this virus in terms of death rates.

“It’s too early to draw direct comparison on something like that. The pandemic is still moving around the world.”

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