High testing rate gives Lux world’s highest covid-19 positive rate


Robert Rohde, who has a PhD in physics, said Luxembourg has the world’s highest incidence of confirmed covid-19 cases per capita, as of 1 April 2020. Picture: Robert Rohde’s Twitter profile 

Luxembourg had the highest proportion of confirmed covid-19 cases per million population starting on 19 March and remained in top position as of 1 April, according to an American academic.

Robert Rohde, a physicist at Berkeley Earth, a climate change research institute based in California, released a data visualisation with the revelation on 2 April.

Rohde used reported case counts from Johns Hopkins University, which has been tracking the global pandemic. However, Rohde noted: “In many places, official numbers may greatly underestimate the true numbers.”

Luxembourg is followed by Spain, Switzerland, Italy, Austria, Belgium, Germany, Norway, France and, with the world’s 10th highest rate of documented coronavirus cases per capita, the Netherlands.

Graphic source: Robert Rohde

Luxembourg’s high rate, 2,729 as of 4 April, could be explained by its relatively high rate of testing. Since the beginning of the outbreak, there have been nearly 23,000 covid-19 tests in Luxembourg, per government figures. That’s a test rate of roughly 36,400 per 1m inhabitants.

For comparison, per Our World in Data, a publication based at the University of Oxford, the rate in Germany is approximately 11,130, while in Italy it is less than 9,900, in South Korea around 8,400, in Belgium about 5,800 and in France around 3,400. On the other hand, Iceland has a test rate of about 64,600 per 1m population.

Corona cases per 1m people. Chart source: Robert Rohde 
Chart source: Robert Rohde

Rohde earned a doctorate in experimental/theoretical physics from the University of California Berkeley. He is the lead scientist at Berkeley Earth, a not-for-profit research outfit, but began analysing the coronavirus outbreak in early March.

Correction: This article previously mislabeled the testing rate for Belgium as the rate of another country. This was updated on 9 April at 11:45am