Coronavirus: France and US figures compared

France has seen a slight uptake in the number of coronavirus cases in the past few weeks, but how does it compare to the US, the country with the most registered cases of the virus. 

4 August 2020
France has recorded less cases of Covid-19 per person than the US, but the US is testing more
By Connexion journalist

The increasing number of Covid-19 cases in France recently has prompted the introduction of new measures such as tighter airport restrictions, making masks mandatory in all enclosed public spaces, and, in some departments, making masks mandatory in certain outdoor areas

The government hopes that these measures will be enough to prevent the country entering a ‘second wave’, according to health minister Olivier Véran. 

Meanwhile, the US is the country with the most reported cases of Covid-19, with over 4.6 million cases, according to latest government figures. Since early July, the US has recorded over 50,000 new cases of the virus every day. On Sunday (August 2), that number dipped below 50,000 for the first time in weeks, marking some progress in limiting the spread of the virus. 

In comparison, France recorded 6,407 new cases of Covid-19 between July 20 - 26, a small increase from the week before. 

In order to get a better picture of how the countries are faring, it is necessary to look at the data per population, to account for the disparity in population between the countries. The difficulty in this is that both countries choose to gather data in different ways, making it complicated to provide solid comparisons. These are some statistics:

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control notes that the US has had an average of over 120 cases of coronavirus per 100,000 people over the past 14 days. In that same period France has had an average of less than 20.

The World Health Organisation uses different metrics to track the data. According to its coronavirus tracker, France has had an average number of 2,930 new cases per 1 million people per day overall. For the US, that number is 14,682. 

In terms of the fatality rate, though, the picture is different. In France, the fatality rate per total number of cases is 15.8%, whereas in the US it is 3.3%. 

The percentage of people who have been treated in intensive care in France is 0.2% of the total number of cases. In the US, that figure is 0.4%. 

In terms of recovery, the numbers are closer. In France, 42.6% of the total number of people with the virus have recovered, compared to 50.3% in the US. 

In France, the Conseil Scientifique, a body that advises the French government on Covid-19, stated that local lockdown measures should be considered if a region in France reports over 50 cases of the virus per 100,000 people. 

The worst-affected region for France is its oversea territory of French Guiana, which has 172.2 cases per 100,000 people, according to latest government reports measured between July 25 - 31. In mainland France, the department Mayenne is the worst affected, with 55 cases per 100,000 people. 

In contrast, many of the cities in the US are reporting numbers over 1,000 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. For example, places like Chicot in Arkansas, Sharkey in Mississippi and Cameron in Texas, all reported over 1,500 cases per 100,000 people in the past 7 days, according to the New York Times

France’s health minister Mr Véran announced recently that the country is now carrying out over 500,000 tests per week, a marked increase since the beginning of deconfinement measures. However, per citizen, the US is still testing more people. 

According to data collected by ourworldindata.org, France has carried out around 1.12 tests per 1,000 people. The US has carried out 2.3 tests per 1,000 people. 

For the moment restrictions remain in place on travelling to France from the US. With overall numbers there still significantly higher than in France, this does not look likely to change soon. 

Read more about the effects of Covid-19 on France and the US:

France now requires Covid tests for at-risk airport arrivals

US travel ban stopping visit to widowed mother in France

Coronavirus: transnational couples separated by travel bans

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