Yes, there will be a followup. I’m just trying to get a grip on what comparisons are valid – and getting you thinking about the same thing.
In trying to find proper comps for America WRT C19, I have to conclude that there are none which are excellent, perhaps not even very good. It is fair to have industrialised nations as our starting point, and places so small that a single one-off event (or lack of them) can change the picture too quickly. Andorra, San Marino, and Liechtenstein are not comps, whether for good or for ill. There are Latin American countries – our own hemisphere – which have recently seen many cases, but I can’t see Peru as a serious comp. We share a border with Mexico, and parts of that country have similarity to parts of this country in more than one way, but “industrialised” seems out of reach. Ditto Brazil. We are narrowing to Europe and the Anglosphere pretty quickly, I think. Japan clearly qualifies as a first-world nation, though it is very much an island, and was culturally willing to isolate long before any of this. They remain solidly racist and homogeneous, resenting the Chinese and looking down on Koreans and especially Filipinos, so their degree of international contact has never been at European or American levels. Russia, China, and India are powerful economies and have industries but can’t really be regarded as industrialised.
Which leads to the next criterion, degree of international contact. Europeans have both contact with each other, often at places of great population density, and contact with the rest of the world. America has two long borders, mixed between population dense and sparse population areas. We have a great deal of international contact, much of it coming in by air. Canada less so, but still considerable. Australia has a great deal of regional contact, New Zealand and South Africa not so much. Even a lot of Europe isn’t in the same league, here. Because many come in by air, the international contact is in many places, well into the heartland. Somewhat true of Canada as well, though Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver are the main contact points. Not nearly so many as America or in Europe. By population it’s a comp, but by area – that is, how much international contact per square kilometer, even if only measuring the southernmost parts – not quite so much. As both population and area seem to be mattering with CoVid, that’s worth noting.
Because the NYC metro area has so dominated the American statistics, over a third of the deaths, and other major metros have had similar problems, I think the presence or absence of such areas is an important comp. A lot of people have criticised what New York has done, but what would they have done differently? Not sending infected persons to nursing homes is a biggie, and worth mentioning, but what else? Close the subways? Then Ubers upon Ubers. What about elevators? How do NYC apartments function without elevators? This is going to weaken a lot of possible comparisons. France has Paris. The UK has London, and bonus points for the Midlands cities. Argentina may work it’s way onto the list simply because of Buenos Aires. Japan might work it’s way back on as well. Mexico City is huge, but I think it is usually described as “sprawling.” Amsterdam, Brussels, Stockholm, Berlin, Rome, etc – not so much high-rise, not so much density. Canada has Toronto, not quite a megacity, but plenty of skyline. Montreal a little less. Vancouver probably not. We are into places that are populous, have skyscrapers and some density, but just not Manhattan or downtown Chicago. Half-credit?
Does ethnicity or racial composition matter, either in terms of disease resistance or willingness to go along with restrictions? We don’t know. There was some thought blacks were more susceptible, but there are now studies showing that for equivalent symptoms this is not so. Are there cultural elements of less personal space, less willingness to follow directions, more need for interaction? Don’t know. I imagine immigrants tend strongly to the habits of their countries of origin, and this dissipates over the generations. I know the Swedes have had large difficulties with the Somalis completely ignoring any restrictions. Is that true of other Africans? It’s hard to imagine it having much residue among African-Americans, whose ancestries stretch back centuries here. For that reason, Hispanics are likely mixed in terms of assimilation in terms of public disease-related behaviors. Norwegians, Israelis and the Japanese are highly self-disciplined people, well ahead of Americans, I suspect. If you tell them something is required for the good of everyone I think they pretty much do it. If I try to think of a group that is not especially self-disciplined, that list is long, and I’m not sure we can make it accurate. What would we measure, and do those things actually correlate with disease behavior?
If there is any such factor, then there is really no comp for America. We have more diversity, and more of it recent, and more of that poor, than anyone. The Canadians have a bit more First Nations, Chinese, Filipino, and South Asian (India), but have few blacks or Hispanics. Some from the Middle East, but not like here. And they are probably the closest in diversity. Europe thinks it has a lot of immigrants because it has gotten them recently, but not even close to American levels. What they think of as a cultural takeover is an average year here. I suppose there might even be some advantage to that, if groups huddle together infecting only each other, but I think it is more likely that such behaviors would create dangerous reservoirs of infection. Still, I don’t know. Maybe this last one is a very big deal, maybe it’s a nothing. Measuring rates of minority infection and/or death is going to be difficult to separate from purely urban, population density, shared public transportation factors.
Add to my list, please. I have an outline of what America’s comps are and what we look like in relationship to them (short answer: mixed), but I’d like to be more confident I am looking at the right stuff. Make your case.