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Viral claim that only 6% of COVID-19 deaths were caused by the virus is flat-out wrong

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Viral claim that only 6% of COVID-19 deaths were caused by the virus is flat-out wrong

A bogus claim circulating social media — one that purports that "only 6%" of the reported COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. are solely attributable to the new coronavirus — is dangerously misleading, infectious disease experts told Live Science. This claim stems from an Aug. 26 update the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) posted on its website, which provides a detailed breakdown of the accompanying health conditions (known as comorbidities) and contributing causes of death reported in people who have died of the new coronavirus in the United States. The CDC noted that "For 6% of the deaths, COVID-19 was the only cause mentioned."

In other words, 6% of people who died when they had COVID-19 didn’t have underlying conditions, such as diabetes, asthma or heart disease, and didn’t experience any medical complications, such as kidney failure or sepsis. But the other 94% of deaths were still caused by COVID-19, infectious disease experts said. That’s because many chronic, underlying conditions can make diseases that a person might otherwise recover from, such as COVID-19, suddenly deadly.

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"When you look at the number of excess deaths this year in comparison with previous years, it’s staggering," Dr. William Hanage, a professor of epidemiology at Harvard University’s School of Public Health told Live Science. That’s an estimated 228,200 additional deaths in the United States, according to the Weinberger Lab at the University of California, San Francisco. Hanage noted that many of the people who have died so far had nonfatal diseases and would not have perished but for contracting the new coronavirus as well. For instance, someone with diabetes or high-blood pressure might have lived decades […]

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