Recently, in the UK's daily government briefing they started showing the graphs that compare national death rates, adjusted by the population size of each country.
- I understand the various reasons why comparisons between countries are difficult and might not make sense right now.
- I understand that a country's population places an upper bound on the number of people who can become infected.
- I can see why population density might affect the rate of infection.
But, why would the rate of infection be different because of the population size? Surely, when a virus reaches the shores of a new country, it doesn't think to itself "hey, there are a lot of people here, I'd better spread faster"...?
I hate to sound like a conspiracy theorist, but right now we in the UK might be the worst-hit in Europe, and I wonder if showing these graphs adjusted by population size might be a political attempt to make us look "not quite so bad".
But, I am very ignorant of biology and epidemiology, so maybe there is a sensible reason for adjusting these graphs by population size. Can somebody explain it to me?
Update: I have noticed that over the last few days, the UK government briefing has stopped including the charts that are adjusted by population size.