Updated May 15, 2020, 4:21 p.m.
According to a U.S. media report, Donald Trump plans to change the way COVID 19 deaths are counted in the U.S. The death toll is to be reduced in this way – the actual statistics, on the other hand, look much more dramatic.
A real trend reversal in the corona pandemic is in the United States further not recognizable. Over 1,700 US citizens died again on Thursday of COVID-19. The United States is by far the country with the most corona deaths worldwide: 86,942 infected people have died there to date.
Donald Trump now wants to lower the death rate. But not with stricter measures, larger subsidies for the health system or more and more targeted tests. The US president just wants to change the way of counting, like the US news site “The Daily Beast” , citing five officials working on the government’s Corona Crisis Unit.
As a result Trump and members of the staff pressure on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), quasi the US counterpart to the German Robert Koch Institute (RKI), exercise to count down the numbers. The CDC should even be urged to retroactively report fewer deaths.
The US president needs arguments for his easy handling of the crisis. And last but not least, he has the election in November in mind, in which he is fighting for a second term. Trump promises to put the country back in a good economic position. Strike measures interfere.
How to change the numbers
But how should the numbers be changed? In the US, all people who are proven to use the Corona virus are infected and die in hospital when COVID-19 deaths are counted. In addition, there are those in whom the symptoms as well as the course of the disease and the cause of death demonstrably indicate an infection with the virus – without a confirmed laboratory test being available.
Coronavirus Crisis Unit coordinator Deborah Birx is now pushing CDC staff to exclude the latter group from corona deaths, according to The Daily Beast. At the request of Trump’s Corona advisory group, those who are positive should also be left out, but may not have died as a direct result of COVID-19.
From the perspective of the CDC itself, however, not too many cases are recorded – on the contrary. “I’m not worried about overestimated numbers,” said Bob Anderson, head of CDC’s mortality statistics department, “The Daily Beast.” “We almost certainly underestimate the number of deaths.”
“With” or “died” of the coronavirus?
In the USA as well as in Germany, skeptics are debating whether a distinction should be made between COVID-19 sufferers who died “with” or “from” the coronavirus. The difference can be seen in practice not reliably set and is negligible – especially with a view to the overall statistics, as the following facts show:
- According to a study by the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE), SARS-CoV-2 affects numerous other organs in addition to the lungs. The pathogen is particularly damaging to the kidneys. “SARS-CoV-2, the novel corona virus, is not just a lung virus, but a multi-organ virus,” said study leader Tobias Huber on Thursday. This was shown by studies of 27 deceased COVID-19 patients.
- A similar picture can also be seen in Berlin, where at least eleven COVID-19 deaths have been autopsied. The causes of death were also published in a Thursday Response from the Senate Department for Health to a parliamentary question Most frequently reported: blood poisoning in pneumonia (four cases), lung failure (three cases) and heart failure (two cases). In all 11 cases, the Charité Institute of Pathology found that the causes of death were “causally caused by COVID-19”.
- In addition: Despite the old age of many corona dead, they would have lived an average of nine years longer without a virus infection, like one Analysis by the NDR based on 6,115 deceased corona patients in Germany.
US death toll significantly underestimated
Back to the USA: Especially in the early days, tests were in short supply there, as before, the test capacities are compared worldwide just average. Some of the most widely used tests also have fairly high false negative rates. (How corona tests basically work read here.)
This is one of the reasons why numerous US experts assume that the death toll in the United States has so far been significantly underestimated. Trump’s leading corona consultant Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Infectious Diseases, stressed on Tuesday at a hearing on the pandemic in the Senate: “Most of us think the number of deaths is likely to be higher.”
This is due to the fact that many people, especially in particularly hard hit New York, died before they could be taken to the hospital.
5,000 additional corona deaths in New York
This is also indicated by considerable mortality, i.e. the deviation from the assumed number of deaths during the same period in a normal year.
A New York City health agency survey released on Monday for the period from March 11 to May 2 suspects more than 5,000 additional corona deaths in the city. The study published on Monday then points to a total of around 25,000 deaths in New York.
According to the experts, the failure to record these alleged corona deaths could be due, among other things, to patients who have been falsely negative tested, died outside medical supervision or whose death has not been linked to COVID-19 so far.
Trump already made one regarding the high death rates in the metropolis unconventional proposal: “If you took New York out of the equation, we would really have a low mortality rate.”
What does not fit is made to fit.
- with material from the news agencies dpa and AFP
- The Daily Beast: “Team Trump Pushes CDC to Revise Down Its COVID Death Counts”
- Axios: “Trump and some top aides question accuracy of virus death toll”
- VOX: “Fauci’s Senate testimony debunked a number of Trump’s favorite coronavirus lies”
- Tagesschau: “Nine years of life lost”
- BR: “#Factsfuchs: How are corona deaths counted?”
- Chicago Tribune: “Fact check: Trump not even remotely true on coronavirus death toll, testing”
Dr. Anthony Fauci is Donald Trump’s first advisor in the fight against the spread of the corona virus. The president, however, minimizes the threat and ignores Fauci’s expertise. The 79-year-old makes himself heard before the Senate. He is afraid for people.
Teaser picture: © AP Photo / Evan Vucci