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

Will Taylor
·News Reporter
·3-min read

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.

An ambulance crew from the South Central Ambulance Service remove their PPE3-level clothing after responding to a false alarm call for a heart attack in Portsmouth, south England on May 5, 2020. - As the list of recognised Covid-19 symptoms grows, paramedic crews like those with the South Central Ambulance Service are forced to treat every patient as being a potential case, often requiring specialised personal protective equipment (PPE). Paramedics now routinely don what the NHS refers to as Level 2 PPE, like face masks and disposable aprons. (Photo by Leon Neal / POOL / AFP) (Photo by LEON NEAL/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
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)
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).
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.

Non-essential shops will then be allowed to resume from 15 June.

The Scottish government has outlined how it will ease up, with Wales to announce any changes on Friday.

Northern Ireland has eased some restrictions.

Coronavirus: what happened today

Click here to sign up to the latest news, advice and information with our daily Catch-up newsletter

Read more about COVID-19

How to get a coronavirus test if you have symptoms
What you can and can’t do under lockdown rules
In pictures: How UK school classrooms could look in new normal
How public transport could look after lockdown
How our public spaces will change in the future

Help and advice

Read the full list of official FAQs here
10 tips from the NHS to help deal with anxiety
What to do if you think you have symptoms
How to get help if you've been furloughed