Is the US COVID Death Count Inflated?

By Chris Talgo, opinion contributor

To read the entire article as published on 09/03/20, click here.

On August 26, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a report showing that in 94 percent of the roughly 180,000 deaths that have been attributed to COVID-19, “on average, there were 2.6 additional conditions or causes per death.”

As the CDC report notes, “For 6% of the deaths, COVID-19 was the only cause mentioned.”

In other words, 94 percent of Americans who have died from coronavirus from the week ending February 1, 2020 to the week ending August 22, 2020 had, on average, almost three comorbidities that played a role in their death. 

According to CDC’s report, the leading comorbidities among these deaths were respiratory diseases, circulatory diseases, sepsis, malignant neoplasms, diabetes, obesity and Alzheimer’s disease, respectively.

Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, many have questioned whether death counts attributed to the pandemic have been inflated.

Anecdotally, there are several stories of cases in which people with COVID-19 had deadly heart attacks, yet these cases were coded as COVID-19 deaths. In one extreme case, a Florida man who died in a motorcycle crash happened to also have COVID-19 at the time, yet was coded as having died from COVID-19, not because of the motorcycle accident.

According to Daniel Spitz, chief medical examiner in Macomb County, Michigan, “I think a lot of clinicians are putting that condition [COVID-19] on death certificates when it might not be accurate because they died with coronavirus and not of coronavirus.”

And Spitz is not alone in his questioning of death counts. As of July 21 (the most recent poll), the Axios-Ipsos coronavirus index poll showed, “Almost a third (31%) of Americans believe the real death toll of the pandemic is less than the 135,000 officially reported as of mid-July. A similarly worded question in early May found that a quarter (23%) said the official count inflated the actual toll.”