Sep 2, 2020 - Health

Fauci debunks conspiracy theory on CDC coronavirus death data

Dr. Anthony Fauci testifies before a House Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis hearing on July 31
Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, during a July congressional hearing in Washington, D.C. Photo: Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images

NIAID director Anthony Fauci in an ABC interview Tuesday addressed a conspiracy theory recently retweeted by President Trump that falsely interpreted CDC data on the U.S. coronavirus death toll.

Driving the news: Trump's post incorrectly claimed that "only 6%" of those listed in the CDC's tally "actually died from COVID" and "the other 94% had 2-3 other serious illnesses." But Fauci said, "The numbers that you've been hearing — there are 180,000-plus deaths — are real deaths from COVID-19. Let [there] not be any confusion about that."

The big picture: Twitter on Sunday removed the post that Trump retweeted for violating its rules.

  • The Centers for Disease Control report, updated on Aug. 26, states that 94% of people who died from COVID-19 in the U.S. had contributing health conditions. The cause of death listed solely from the novel coronavirus occurred in 6% of cases across the U.S. from Feb. 1 to Aug. 22.

Yes, but: CDC data also shows that COVID-19 was the underlying cause of 95% of all deaths related to the virus.

What he's saying: "If you look at the people who died of COVID disease, the point that the CDC was trying to make was that a certain percentage of them had nothing else but just COVID," Fauci said.

  • "That does not mean that someone who has hypertension or diabetes who dies of COVID didn't die of COVID-19. They did."
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