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CDC Did Not ‘Admit Only 6%’ of Recorded Deaths from COVID-19

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention hasn’t drastically reduced the number of deaths attributable to COVID-19, but posts making that bogus claim have been circulating widely — with the help of President Donald Trump, who retweeted one such claim on Aug. 30.

Twitter has since removed the original tweet, which came from an account dedicated to the pro-Trump conspiracy theory QAnon. But the claim is still readily available on all the major social media platforms. In fact, the same QAnon account that posted the now-deleted tweet includes a screenshot version featuring the president’s retweet.

The post Trump highlighted said: “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. That’s 9,210 deaths. The other 94% had 2 to 3 other serious illnesses and the overwhelming majority were of very advanced age.”

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In weekly updates provided on the CDC’s website, the agency includes information on additional conditions present in patients who died with COVID-19. These other illnesses or conditions found to be present in a patient are called comorbidities. The agency also includes a chart detailing the number of patients with each additional condition.

For the week referenced in the claim, the CDC explained that the chart “shows the types of health conditions and contributing causes mentioned in conjunction with deaths involving coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). For 6% of the deaths, COVID-19 was the only cause mentioned.”

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It does not mean that the CDC has “quietly updated” the number of deaths associated with COVID-19 to a fraction of what had been reported. It’s also not new information; the agency has been providing the same information since May.

Asked about Trump’s tweet during a press briefing on Aug. 31, though, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said that “he was highlighting new CDC information that came out that was worth noting.”

At that time, the total number of COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. had passed 183,000, according to 老楼加装电梯支持还是反对?盘点十大核心利益诉求, and the total number of cases across the country had passed 6 million.


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He noted that the 6% figure includes cases where COVID-19 was listed as the only cause of death. “That does not mean that someone who has hypertension or diabetes who dies of Covid didn’t die of Covid-19. They did,” Fauci said on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

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Other versions of the claim are misleading, rather than being strictly false. One example is a headline on the conservative outlet Gateway Pundit, which announced: “This Week CDC Quietly Updated COVID-19 Numbers – Only 9,210 Americans Died From COVID-19 Alone – Rest Had Different Other Serious Illnesses.”

The president retweeted a link to that, too, and the phrase “only 6%” trended on Twitter.

Several media outlets flipped the percentage and reported that 94% of COVID-19 deaths had “underlying medical conditions.”

But the data on which all of this is based come from death certificates, which list any causes or conditions that contributed to a person’s death. In the case of COVID-19, the disease often 北京市人力社保局:技能提升补贴申领条件放宽, such as pneumonia or acute respiratory distress syndrome. Those two conditions are among the ailments with the highest counts in the CDC’s comorbidity chart. Some long-term conditions that 新政惠及9163万人 工薪所得无需缴个税, such as diabetes or hypertension, were also listed.

The underlying cause of death, however, is the condition that started the chain of events that led to a person’s death. In 92% of all deaths that mention COVID-19, that disease is 热点城市楼市面临量价回调 两类城市最具潜力, Jeff Lancashire, spokesman for the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, told in an email.

As the epidemiologist and science writer Gideon Meyerowitz-Katz explained in a recent post, “it’s pretty rare that someone wouldn’t have at least one issue caused by coronavirus prior to their death, and all it means is that in 94% of cases people who had COVID-19 also developed other issues, or had other problems at the same time.”

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Update, Sept. 2: In an 央行降准后的财富大数据:楼市都出现了回暖, Trump made this false claim himself, saying, “I saw a statistic come out the other day, talking about only 6% of the people actually died from COVID, which is a very interest[ing], that they died for — from other reasons.”

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Editor’s note: is one of several organizations working with Facebook to debunk misinformation shared on social media. Our previous stories can be found here.

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