A recent CDC report says that just 6% of Covid-19 deaths had no additional listed causes or comorbidities. As you might expect, Twitter lit up like the Bay Area lightning storm that started all those wildfires:
CDC: 94% COVID-19 mortalities had comorbidities such as hypertension, obesity, diabetes or dementia. Only 6% of COVID-19 mortalities had no underlying conditions. On average, a person to die with COVID-19 had 2.6 additional diagnoses. https://t.co/LQJ3gZF7Tr— Max Lugavere (@maxlugavere) August 30, 2020
Wonder if it is true?— Kevin Sorbo (@ksorbs) August 30, 2020
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.
While I do believe that coronavirus death reporting has been wildly inconsistent and the data from this particular report is certainly telling, it’s also being widely misinterpreted, mostly based on peoples’ views on the shutdown, which tend to be pretty polarized.
Here’s the thing. Viruses rarely kill. They more commonly weaken the immune system, enabling one or more secondary infections — often respiratory or pulmonary related — to do the dirty work.
It’s natural to think of comorbidity as preexisting conditions such as diabetes or heart disease, but some of the most common causes of death listed in the report were respiratory failure and pneumonia, which may very well have been caused by Covid-19.
Comorbidity does not imply a timeline. There is no cause and effect. In other words, just because coronavirus is the only listed cause in just 6% of coronavirus deaths does not mean that it wasn’t the root cause of others listed with additional morbidities. It’s sort of a mixed bag.
Don’t get me wrong. You know how I feel about the reporting on coronavirus. I’ve been saying the actual death rate is far lower than what’s being reported for many months. All I’m saying now is that it’s always a good idea to actually read the report as opposed to the hot takes on Twitter.
More important, you know how I feel about the shutdowns. They were a disaster. We may very well have locked down the economy for no reason. And we’re still on lockdown. It’s impossible to calculate the cost to society. To our small businesses. To our children’s education. To our mental health.
America should open for business. Schools should open. We should protect the vulnerable. And we should continue to wash our hands, distance and, if we can’t distance, masks can help. But barring a vaccine, herd immunity is the only mechanism that will stop the virus. We will get there sooner or later.
Along those lines, there’s a CNN ad that says, “This is a mask. It prevents the spread of coronavirus.” That is patently false. Masks lower the odds of infection; they do not prevent the spread. That is the science.
In an era dominated by ideological social media echo chambers, people really need to check source data and decide for themselves. Seriously.
I don’t know about you but I’m not holding my breath.
Image credit EPA – EFE