Explaining Why “6%” is a load of COVID-19 BS

Over the past weekend, the group-think of the internet has been abuzz presenting the asinine notion that CDC has revised down the number of deaths due to COVID-19, as some moron discovered that in 6% of cases COVID-19 was listed as the sole cause of death, and this somehow means the severity of the entire pandemic has been overexaggerated. This entire narrative is idiotic on three distinct levels, which apparently needs to be dumbed down so far for these people that I am forced to explain it in terms of The Legend of Zelda in hopes that might get the point across. So here we go, The Triforce:

Piece One: The Triforce of Ignorance – People (and especially the media) are ignoring how death certificates work

When you fill out a death certificate (and I have filled out many), you have list all of their medical problems that contributed to their death. Now, what is a medical problem? That is a specific thing related to a patient’s medical chart, but for these purposes it’s essentially a current medical issue, or past issue with ongoing ramifications. In this case, it is one that contributed to a patient’s death.

Here’s an example of a Death Certificate:

Example death certificate:

So… say a 45-year-old female comes into the hospital, with no past medical issues, with COVID-19. They won the suck-fest lottery, and developed pneumonia, ARDS (acute respiratory distress syndrome, you don’t want that), and eventually a stroke too. Eventually, the patient sadly dies from COVID-19. On their death certificate I would then write that their immediate cause of death was ARDS, due to a consequence of pneumonia, due to a consequence of COVID-19. As a significant condition contributing to death (Part II in the example image) I would list stroke. They didn’t have any other medical problems (my example, my rules) so I wouldn’t list anything else here.
What does this all mean? IT MEANS THIS PERSON WHO WAS HEALTHY BEFORE WOULD NOT COUNT IN THE 6% OF PATIENTS REPORTED TO CDC as having died of COVID-19 as the sole cause of death, even though they got pneumonia due to COVID-19.

Two: The Triforce of Stupidity – Excess mortality numbers show the deaths are real

There are two interlinking pieces to this piece of the Triforce. First, many, many people have comorbidities that increase your risk of death from COVID-19. The most important one is hypertension. Almost half of all adult Americans have hypertension; yet most people don’t die from infectious illnesses in a given year from it. The same thing goes with diabetes, which affects 10.5% of Americans. While both conditions are associated with increased mortality, those numbers are baked into annual mortality rates.

This leads us to the second thing people are ignoring when perpetuating this crap. Since all these pre-existing conditions are already here (remember, they are pre-existing) their effect on mortality can be seen in our average annual mortality rate (per capita, of course, since we are accurate like that).

We can use this to model predicted annual mortality, look at what said model would predict as the total number of deaths to a given point in time (like today), and then compare that to the actual number of tallied deaths, to get a measure called excess mortality (aka excess deaths). And guess what, we have anywhere between ~160-200k (remember, there is a calculated range on the model with error and everything—so hawt) excess deaths this year, pretty much in line with the actual numbers and the predictions of a certain podcast guest on this affiliated website.

So yes, way more people are dying than normal, even given the general less-than-stellar health of Americans, thanks to the POS murder hobo that COVID-19 is.

Piece Three: Idiotic Bravery – 6% is scary as hell

This piece here is Triforce of Idiotic Bravery. Let’s say that the entire 6% of COVID-19 deaths with nothing else listed is real, and there is absolutely no contribution to that number from tired, worked-to-death physicians who simply only wrote down COVID-19 and not everything else wrong with the patient because the doctor’s motor skills had decayed too much from too much caffeine and not enough sleep to eek out anything more than that in a legible format.

If this were true, it is a horrifying number. That means that 6% of people dying from COVID or roughly 11,000 people were completely healthy individuals who were straight-up murdered by a hulked out version of the common cold. That is not good. That means if everyone got it (by say, completely ignoring the problem and removing all distancing and other efforts designed to combat the virus), we could expect a lot of healthy people to end up dead. It is actually hideously complicated to do the math to figure out how many healthy people would die in such a scenario, but the entire notion should be unsettling, not a comfort to those adults who are healthy.

In conclusion

This entire notion of there being a revision showing deaths due to COVID is really only 6% of what was previously reported is dumb. It ignores everything about how the data was collected and other corroborating data demonstrating the number of extra deaths we have had. Anyone pushing this narrative is either being deliberately deceitful, willfully incompetent, or so modeling exemplar Dunning-Kruger behaviors and needs to stick to smashing pots for rupees Ina video game.

Jason Goldsmith
Jason Goldsmith
Dr. Jason Goldsmith, MD, PhD is an immunologist studying immune cell regulation and nocturnist who was/is on the frontline of treating COVID-19 patients. He served as a deputy medical examiner from 2007-2014.
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