New CDC report sparks debate about who has died ‘from’ COVID rather than ‘with’ COVID
Months ago scientific modeling showed COVID-19 was expected to kill as many as 2.2 million Americans, a harrowing estimate that policymakers cited to justify the purposeful crashing of the nation’s economy and severe restrictions on travel and gatherings.
Then, we learned that the number was overstated by a factor of 10.
But the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently issued a new report that found the number of deaths specific to COVID-19 alone is far less than anyone imagined.
Just six percent of coronavirus fatalities — or roughly 10,000 people based on the current count — died solely from the virus.
The other 94 percent had comorbidities or underlying conditions that contributed significantly to their deaths. That CDC report notes that those victims had on average “2.6 additional conditions or causes.”
Those included conditions such as pneumonia, hypertension, heart disease and diabetes.
President Donald Trump touted the COVID-only number in tweets, instantly earning him derision from his critics.
In a column on Sunday, Jacob Sullum, a senior editor at the libertarian magazine Reason, allowed that the early projections were vastly overstated and thus presented policymakers with a drastic “false dilemma” that likely forced them into steps they might not have taken.
But, it’s still “outlandish” to think only 10,000 or so people have died from the coronavirus, Sullum argued.
“It is possible that some people whose deaths are attributed to COVID-19 would have died anyway from preexisting medical conditions. But judging from excess mortality calculations, particularly for people with pneumonia or flu-like symptoms, most of these patients would still be alive but for the virus,” Sullum maintained.
“It is clearly not reasonable to assume that every COVID-19 death involving comorbidities was not really a COVID-19 death.”
That may be true. Sullum’s point is certainly fair and arguable. But the CDC revelation does not help the cause of those who repeatedly heightened the threat and advocated severe policies, such as total lackdowns that threw 30 million people out of work, stay-at-home orders and mandatory masking.
Rather, it only underscores what some argued at the beginning about segregating and protecting the most vulnerable populations, especially elderly Americans and those with underlying health conditions.
For instance, Phil Kerpen, president of the conservative group American Commitment, noted on Twitter that the CDC found 4,127 alleged COVID victims passed away from “intentional and unintentional injury, poisoning and other adverse events.”
To that point, some readers may recall that The New York Times grimly printed the names of the first 100,000 victims back in May. And some critics pointed out that the sixth name on the list was an Iowa man who had been found shot to death in an apparent homicide.
Alex Berenson, a former NYT reporter who has been harshly critical of the government’s bigfooted response to COVID-19, nonetheless said it’s wrong to think so few people died of the virus.
But, he added in a tweet, the CDC should exclude some conditions to get a more accurate picture of the actual death toll. Berenson said he would not count those who had Alzheimer’s, sepsis, dementia, cancer, and unintentional injury, as well as, to be “conservative” kidney failure, diabetes, obesity, and strokes.
“Those deaths — at a minimum — are much more likely to fall in the WITH rather than FROM #Covid category,” he wrote.
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