Most of Europe thinks they managed COVID-19 significantly better than the United States

Matthew SmithLead data journalist
June 02, 2020, 3:00 PM UTC

As the cumulative number of coronavirus deaths continues to climb across the world, it has become increasingly apparent which countries seem to have prevailed and which have performed poorly against the disease. 

A YouGov Eurotrack survey asked people in seven major European countries, as well as the United States, how they believe other nations have handled the crisis compared to their own. 

All European countries agree that they have done worse than South Korea, but better than the United States. 

Despite having by far the highest COVID death toll, Americans feel they have nevertheless performed better than Italy (by 33% to 20%), China (by 36% to 27%) and Spain (by 25% to 19%). This is particularly curious given that the Americans don’t think they have done as well as the UK (21% say Britain has done better vs 16% who say worse), despite the fact that the UK is likely to have experienced higher death rates than Italy, Spain and China. 



The results are partisan, with Democrats consistently more likely to say that other countries have done better than the United States than Republicans, and by wide margins. There is one exception however: Sweden. The 37 percent of Democrats who believe the Scandinavian nation has managed the outbreak better than the United States is almost matched by the 35 percent of Republicans who feel the same. 

Sweden also tops the list of countries that Republicans believe has performed well compared to the United States, which could be sign of Republican approval of Sweden’s decision not to institute a coronavirus lockdown. 

Britain is seen, literally, as the sick man of Europe. Every other European country surveyed believes the UK’s coronavirus response to have been worse than their own – and by wide margins. This includes Spain (where 55% think Spain has done better than the UK compared to only 10% who think the opposite) and Italy (73% better, 7% worse), which have themselves been hit particularly hard by the crisis. 



Britons themselves tend to agree – there is no European country that Britons believe has handled the outbreak less well than the UK. They are most evenly split on Italy, with 23 percent of Britons believing the UK has done worse compared to 22 percent better, and they do consider themselves to have handled the crisis better than China, at 35 percent to 30 percent. 

Image: Getty