CDC Refutes Social Media Rumors That COVID-19 Death Data Is Inaccurate

Conspiracy theories claim only a small percentage of people said to have died from COVID-19 actually died from the disease

THURSDAY, Sept. 3, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Rumors suggesting that COVID-19 deaths in the United States are much lower than reported are due to people misinterpreting standard death certificate language, a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention official says.

Social media conspiracy theories claiming that only a small percentage of people reported to have died from COVID-19 actually died from the disease have cited death certificates that list other underlying causes, CNN reported. But that does not mean the patients did not die from COVID-19, said Bob Anderson, Ph.D., chief of mortality statistics at the CDC.

"In 94 percent of deaths with COVID-19, other conditions are listed in addition to COVID-19. These causes may include chronic conditions like diabetes or hypertension," Anderson explained in a statement. "In 6 percent of the death certificates that list COVID-19, only one cause or condition is listed. The underlying cause of death is the condition that began the chain of events that ultimately led to the person's death. In 92 percent of all deaths that mention COVID-19, COVID-19 is listed as the underlying cause of death."

As of Aug. 22, CDC data show that 161,392 death certificates listed COVID-19 as a cause of death. As of Sept. 2, there had been more than 185,000 deaths from COVID-19 in the United States, according to Johns Hopkins University, which uses independent data. Other top U.S. health officials have said that CDC COVID-19 death data are accurate.

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