'NOT NOW': US's leading experts on coronavirus shoot down conspiracy theories about inflated death rates

dchoi@businessinsider.com (David Choi)
Dr. Anthony Fauci.

Jonathan Ernst/REUTERS

  • The top US health officials leading the response to the coronavirus pandemic have shot down the numerous conspiracy theories suggesting fatality rates were being intentionally misrepresented.
  • In recent days, several influential figures floated theories that the US had been inflating its statistics on deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus.
  • "They are nothing but distractions," Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the US's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Wednesday.
  • "I would just hope we just put those conspiracy stuff — and let somebody write a book about it later on, but not now," he added, while waving his hand.
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The top health officials leading the US's response to the coronavirus pandemic have shot down the numerous conspiracy theories suggesting fatality rates are being intentionally misrepresented.

Dr. Deborah Birx, the coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force, said during a press conference on Wednesday that her team had been "hearing both sides" of the unverified rumors — with some suggesting the number of coronavirus-related deaths has been intentionally inflated and others suggesting the opposite, that deaths have been intentionally underreported.

"This has been known from the beginning: So those individuals will have an underlying condition, but that underlying condition did not cause their acute death when it's related to a COVID infection," Birx said. "In fact, it's the opposite. Having an underlying condition and getting this virus, we know, is particularly damaging to those individuals."

"If you have asthma ... if you have diabetes, if you have hypertension, these are preexisting conditions that put you at a greater risk to having a worse outcome," she added.

Dr. Deborah Birx.

Associated Press/Patrick Semansky

In recent days, several influential figures have floated theories that the US has been misrepresenting its statistics on the coronavirus and that health officials may have not differentiated "between those who die with the disease and those who die from it."

"There may be reasons people seek an inaccurate death count," the Fox News host Tucker Carlson said during a segment on Tuesday. "When journalists work with numbers, there sometimes is an agenda."

Earlier in April, the conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh attempted to qualify his theory by saying he was "not trying to stir anything up" but argued that "with this new arrival of COVID-19, that coronavirus is being listed as a cause of death for many people who are not dying because of it."

"They're dying because of other things," Limbaugh added, according to The Daily Beast. "But it's speculation. It's fascinating."

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the US's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, also weighed in on the false assumptions by recalling his tenure advising previous presidents amid the HIV/AIDS crisis.

"Having been through other serious issues, particularly the very painful early years of HIV/AIDs — when people talk about conspiracy theories, you will always have conspiracy theories when you have a very challenging public-health crisis," Fauci said. "They are nothing but distractions."

"I can assure you we have so much to do to protect the health and the welfare of the American people that I would just hope we just put those conspiracy stuff — and let somebody write a book about it later on, but not now," he added, while waving his hand.

Nearly 400,000 people in the US tested positive for the coronavirus as of Wednesday afternoon, and more than 12,000 have died.

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