Apr 23, 2020 - Health

Mossad director: Iran is hiding the real coronavirus death toll

Yossi Cohen. AFP Contributor / Contributor

The director of Israel's foreign intelligence agency, Mossad, said in a briefing to health care officials on Thursday that Iran and its regional allies are intentionally underreporting cases and deaths from the coronavirus, officials who attended the event tell Axios.

What he's saying: According to officials who attended the briefing, Mossad Director Yossi Cohen said the situation in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Iran is much worse than the governments of those countries publicly acknowledge.

"There [has] been widespread infection and they are lying about it. The numbers the Iranians are reporting about are not true. The numbers of infected and dead I know about are much higher."
— Yossi Cohen

Background: Cohen has been one of the primary officials dealing with the coronavirus crisis after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked his agency to source medical equipment like ventilators and test kits from around the world.

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U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios. This graphic includes "probable deaths" that New York City began reporting on April 14.

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Why it matters: Even as states reopen their economies, Americans are still seeking relief. Revised data out Thursday also showed U.S. economy shrunk by an annualized 5% in the first quarter — worse than the initially estimate of 4.8%.

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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

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Why it matters: Shutting down elective medical care may have been necessary, particularly in coronavirus hotspots, but will have lasting effects on some patients.

Mark Zuckerberg: Social networks should not be "the arbiter of truth"

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg argued on CNBC's "Squawk Box" Thursday that social media platforms should not police political speech, and that "people should be able to see what politicians say.”

Why it matters: Zuckerberg was responding to Twitter's decision this week to fact-check a pair of President Trump's tweets that claimed that mail-in ballots are "substantially fraudulent." Twitter's label, which directs users to "get the facts" about mail-in voting, does not censor Trump's tweets.