Fauci debunks coronavirus death misinformation promoted by President Trump
White House coronavirus adviser Anthony S. Fauci on Tuesday refuted online misinformation amplified by President Trump that the virus’s death toll has been vastly overstated in the United States.
The claim was shared by the far-right website Gateway Pundit and a follower of the baseless QAnon theory in Twitter posts that Trump retweeted Sunday, one of which was removed for violating the company’s coronavirus misinformation policy. It falsely claimed that only 6 percent of the nation’s 180,000 reported covid-19 deaths are legitimate, pointing to a statement on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website saying that 94 percent of deaths involved co-morbidities.
“If you look at the people who died of covid disease, the point that the CDC was trying to make was that a certain percentage of them had nothing else but just covid,” Fauci said during an interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “That does not mean that someone who has hypertension or diabetes who dies of covid didn’t die of covid-19. They did.”
Despite online claims, the CDC statement was not a departure from what has been known about the coronavirus. The CDC has said for months that people with underlying health issues are at greater risk of developing serious symptoms from coronavirus.
Co-morbidities reported on the CDC’s website include heart disease, obesity, diabetes and hypertension — conditions that can make a person more vulnerable to the virus. Each would appear on a person’s death certificate, along with covid-19. Death certificates may also list sepsis, respiratory arrest, kidney failure or other conditions as the immediate cause of death, but those are caused by the infection.
Many scientists, Fauci among them, think the virus’s true death toll has been undercounted, not overcounted, because of lack of access to testing at the start of the pandemic and deaths that happen at home.
“The numbers that you’ve been hearing, the 180,000-plus deaths, are real deaths from covid-19,” he said Tuesday. “Let there not be any confusion about that. It’s not 9,000 deaths from covid-19. It’s 180,000-plus deaths.”