The UK, Sweden and Brazil have the highest COVID-19 daily death rates in the world

Will Taylor
News Reporter

The UK continues to rank as one of the worst hit countries by COVID-19 deaths per million, data shows.

Figures compiled by Oxford University show that despite a continuous fall in coronavirus fatalities, only Sweden and Brazil are suffering worse daily death rates.

Both have been highlighted for how they have covered the coronavirus pandemic, with Sweden having more lax restrictions than many other countries and Brazil’s president often playing down the virus’s deadliness.

The data shows the UK’s seven day average up to 26 May was 4.46 confirmed deaths per million, with Sweden on 4.68 and Brazil on 4.49.

The UK has the third highest daily death rate per million over the past week, data shows. (Pool/AFP)
How some of the countries stack up in daily deaths per million of the population. (Our World in Data/Oxford University)

It leaves the UK much closer to two countries notable for the approach to the pandemic, though the government has insisted international comparisons are not useful yet.

The government was criticised for removing slides that compare it to other countries in its daily COVID-19 press briefings.

Sweden did not enforce a lockdown as severe as the one seen in the UK.

Gatherings of more than 50 people were banned and Swedes were encouraged to work or study from home, with social distancing also advised.

The government there relied on people to use common sense and comply with their recommendations.

Swedish epidemiologist Professor Johan Giesecke has previously described lockdowns as futile because, in his view, they don’t protect the elderly and vulnerable, and only serve to delay the virus’s spread which returns when restrictions are inevitably eased.

Sweden has seen 34,000 cases and 4,125 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University in the US.

The rolling seven day average number of deaths per million in each country - many other countries are available to compare. (Our World in Data/Oxford University).

Alarm has been raised at Brazil’s death toll from coronavirus, which was likened to a “little flu” by its president Jair Bolsonaro.

His country has seen 23,000 COVID-19 related deaths and 374,000 cases since its outbreak began.

Bolsonaro has said Brazilians should be allowed to go about their lives and avoid an economic disaster.

State governors, however, have introduced restrictions to curb the spread of the virus.

Bolsonaro fired his health minister in mid-April after the latter backed the governors, and has now appointed an army general with no prior health experience.

Paulo Brandao, a virologist at the University of Sao Paulo, said last month: “We have all the conditions here for the pandemic to become much more serious.”

The UK locked down on 23 March shortly after an Imperial College study suggested 250,000 people could die without severe restrictions being imposed.

England is moving into the next phase of the government’s plan to ease up the lockdown, with Boris Johnson announcing that outdoor markets and car showrooms can resume next month if precautions are taken.