FACT CHECK: Did The CDC Revise Its COVID-19 Death Count To Show That Only 9,210 People ‘Actually Died’ From COVID-19?
A viral Facebook post shared over 5,300 times claims the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) “quietly updated” its coronavirus death count to show that only 9,210 people “actually died” from COVID-19.
The post misconstrues COVID-19 comorbidity data. Dr. Robert Anderson, the chief of mortality statistics at the National Center for Health Statistics, said COVID-19 is listed as the underlying cause of death in 92 percent of all deaths that mention COVID-19, including those with comorbidities.
Social media platforms are replete with misinformation about coronavirus death statistics. This particular Facebook post claims the CDC “quietly” updated its numbers to show that only 6 percent of people listed as coronavirus fatalities “actually died” from the disease.
“This week the CDC quietly updated the Covid number to admit that only 6% of all the 153,504 deaths recorded actually died from Covid,” reads the viral post. “That’s 9,210 deaths. See table 3 in the link below.” (RELATED: Viral Image Claims To show CDC Document About Face Masks)
The Facebook user provides a link to the CDC website that displays a table of “health conditions and contributing causes mentioned in conjunction with deaths involving coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).” However, the user appears to be misinterpreting the table.
While 6 percent of deaths included in the statistics had COVID-19 as the only cause listed on the death certificate, that doesn’t mean only 6 percent of the reported people “actually died” from the disease. The other deaths in the table had one or more comorbidities listed as a contributing condition on the death certificate, according to the CDC. Comorbidity means one or more conditions occur in a patient at the same time.
“The underlying cause of death is the condition that began the chain of events that ultimately led to the person’s death,” Anderson told Check Your Fact in an email. “In 92% of all deaths that mention COVID-19, COVID-19 is listed as the underlying cause of death.”
The CDC has long said that elderly people and people with certain underlying medical conditions such as cancer, obesity or chronic kidney disease, among others, are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Anderson noted that the 94-percent figure may include chronic illnesses, as well as other conditions that “occurred as a result of COVID-19, such as pneumonia or respiratory failure.”
President Donald Trump retweeted a post making the false claim over the weekend, ProPublica’s archive of his deleted tweets shows. Twitter later removed the tweet that he retweeted and replaced it with a message that reads, “This Tweet is no longer available because it violated the Twitter Rules,” according to CNN.