As seemingly happens every week during the pandemic, misinformation has been floating around about some statistics the CDC shared on its website. This time, it stems from a now-removed tweet that President Trump retweeted from a QAnon follower (yup), which claims that the CDC "quietly" added some data to their website to clarify that only 6% of COVID-19 deaths were a result of COVID alone, whereas 94% of them included other "serious illnesses" as causes of death.
The tweet used this statistic to make it seem that COVID had really only killed around 9,000 people. That's not at all what it means.
First of all here's what the CDC website actually states: "For 6% of the deaths, COVID-19 was the only cause mentioned. For deaths with conditions or causes in addition to COVID-19, on average, there were 2.6 additional conditions or causes per death."
Many experts have weighed in on the confusion to set the record straight.
Dr. Zubin Damania is a hospitalist (a dedicated in-patient physician who works exclusively in a hospital) who also has his own show where he discusses all things medical. One of his hallmarks is trying to separate politics from medical fact, which theoretically should make him a refreshing source no matter where you land on the political spectrum.
He explains in a video how death certificates are filled out and why "additional conditions or causes" doesn't in any way negate a death from COVID-19. Basically, this data doesn't tell us anything we didn't already know, but the political spin to make it sound like this information is some kind of bombshell is simply not sound science.
As Dr. Damania points out, you can make all the arguments against lockdowns or express your opinion that the economic sacrifices don't outweigh the cost in lives or whatever without misrepresenting the science and the facts.
That CDC 6% COVID Death Rate, Explained www.youtube.com
If you prefer to read a news article about why the 6% statistic doesn't mean what some people are saying it means, here's a thorough article that explains the whole thing.
If you prefer the brevity of a TikTok, here you go:
@dr.noc BEWARE the armchair epidemiologists and their misguided theories. ##covid19 ##science ##coronavirus ##medicine ##nursing ##outrage
♬ original sound - dr.noc
Here's a Facebook post from an epidemiologist:
And how about a Twitter thread from an oncologist and editor of a cancer journal, who surely knows a thing or two about death statistics? He summed it up perhaps more succinctly than anyone.
"600,000 die of cancer each year. 95% likely have comorbidities. Doesn't mean cancer was not the cause of their death."
Don’t believe the spin. COVID has caused unbelievable tragedy in the US. The 180,000 deaths are in my opinion an un… https://t.co/GBz3KeFBY0— Vincent Rajkumar (@Vincent Rajkumar) 1598830037.0
Bottom line, COVID-19 has killed more than 180,000 Americans. Just like with every other death from disease, other comorbidities are listed on death certificates. You can look at the WHO instructions for how to list causes of death with COVID-19 here. (Scroll down to page 3 to see a death certificate filled out correctly, in which COVID-19 led to acute respiratory distress and pneumonia, and how all three are listed.) Nothing about these stats is new or shocking information.
Wear your mask, keep your distance, wash your hands, and carry on.
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