Trump argues 3.4% death rate from coronavirus is 'false,' citing a 'hunch' in claiming it's far lower

salarshani@businessinsider.com (Sarah Al-Arshani,Lauren Frias)
President Donald Trump at a coronavirus briefing with airline CEOs in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on Wednesday.

Associated Press

  • President Donald Trump has argued that the 3.4% coronavirus death rate is "false."
  • "Well, I think the 3.4% is really a false number," Trump told the Fox News host Sean Hannity on Wednesday night. "Now, this is just my hunch, but based on a lot of conversations with a lot of people who do this, because a lot of people will have this and it's very mild. They'll get better very rapidly. They don't even see a doctor."
  • The 3.4% figure, cited this week by the World Health Organization, is based on the latest official numbers for confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths worldwide. It's an increase from about 2% previously.
  • Experts have predicted that the death rate will fall in the longer term as more milder cases are diagnosed, but Trump cited a "hunch" Wednesday in claiming that the real rate might be "a fraction of 1%."
  • The US has had 11 deaths so far — 10 in Washington state and one in California — with more than 150 reported cases.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

President Donald Trump on Wednesday night disputed the latest official death rate of 3.4% from the novel coronavirus, telling the Fox New host Sean Hannity that his "hunch" was that the true number was "a fraction of 1%."

"Well, I think the 3.4% is really a false number," Trump said. "Now, this is just my hunch, but based on a lot of conversations with a lot of people who do this, because a lot of people will have this and it's very mild. They'll get better very rapidly. They don't even see a doctor."

The 3.4% figure, cited this week by the World Health Organization, was reached using the latest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths. It was an increase from 2% previously and is likely to change further.

As Business Insider previously reported, "experts predict that the percentage of deaths will decrease in the longer term since milder cases of COVID-19 are probably going undiagnosed." While that aligns with Trump's reasoning on Wednesday, it's unclear where he came up with the "fraction of 1%" alternative.

As of Wednesday, the global death toll from the coronavirus neared 3,300, with more than 95,000 confirmed cases around the world.

The US has had 11 deaths so far — 10 in Washington state and one in California — with more than 150 reported cases. Because of a shortage of coronavirus testing kits, however, the US has not been testing for the virus as much as several other countries.

Trump later speculated in the interview that "thousands or hundreds of thousands" of people might have recovered from the virus without receiving a diagnosis, which would be a dramatic increase from the fewer than 100,000 cases that have been confirmed for far.

A representative from the White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Business Insider.

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