Using differences in coronavirus death rates between countries to draw out policy conclusions is becoming a very popular pastime. Unfortunately, as Michael Baum has pointed out already in The Spectator, it is rarely a productive one. Over the weekend, Dr Elaine Doyle of the University of Limerick tried her hand, arguing that high death rates in the UK relative to Ireland reflected badly on the UK policy approach to tackling the virus.
At the time of writing, the UK has reported 12,868 hospital deaths of coronavirus patients, a rate of about 193 per million, while the Republic had reported 435 hospital deaths, a much lower rate of about 89 per million.
But the UK is a very different country to Ireland. Much is still unknown about the virus but it seems likely that the virus may hit some ethnic minority groups disproportionately, while population density and rates of international travel are key factors in the speed of spread.