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18 Jul, 2023 22:11

US Covid-19 deaths overcounted by nearly a third – NYT

The newspaper has long defended the official pandemic statistics, even suggesting the death count was low
US Covid-19 deaths overcounted by nearly a third – NYT

Nearly a third of US deaths ascribed to Covid-19 were actually caused by something else, the New York Times admitted on Monday, citing data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“The official number [of Covid-19 deaths] is probably an exaggeration because it includes some people who had [the] virus when they died even though it was not the underlying cause of death,” the Times article read, explaining that both CDC data and a study in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases support the claim that “almost one third of official recent Covid deaths have fallen into this category.”

Titled 'A positive Covid milestone', it claims all-cause mortality in the US has returned to its pre-pandemic baseline. All-cause mortality hovered around 30% higher than normal during the worst of the pandemic, according to the outlet – a figure which sounds less scary when accompanied by an admission that Covid deaths were overcounted by about 30% to begin with. 

The admission contradicts years of insistence from the Times, other prominent US news outlets, fact-checkers, and chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci himself that any questioning of the official death toll was mere “conspiracy theory” spawned by baseless rumors on social media and disinfo-spewing right-wing pundits.

The Times pounced on then-president Donald Trump in 2020 when he suggested that the number of pandemic deaths was “lower than” the official figure, claiming “most statisticians and public health experts say he is wrong” and arguing the number was in fact “far higher” than recorded.

Fauci in particular found unconscionable the suggestion that the death toll was being artificially padded, telling NBC in 2020 that “there is absolutely no evidence that that’s the case at all.” Meanwhile, motorcycle crash victims, gunshot victims, and other unrelated deaths were found to have been added to the total.

The CDC even suggested at the time that the figure represented an undercount of the true number, despite having encouraged doctors to list Covid-19 as cause of death even in some cases where the patient had not been tested for the virus.

Italy recalculated its own Covid-19 mortality figures in 2021, revealing that just 2.9% of pandemic deaths could be exclusively attributed to the virus. The remainder had at least one chronic disease, often several – though fact-checkers were quick to counter any claims that these comorbidities, not the virus, were responsible for the patients' demise.

Washington Post columnist and vociferous lockdown advocate Leana Wen admitted in January that the “medical community” was “overcounting Covid deaths and hospitalizations,” citing two infectious disease experts who told her the figures for hospitalized Covid-19 patients were overstated by as much as 90%.

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