WASHINGTON, DC, March 8- Unsettling reports have emerged that seem to show COVID-19 is not as deadly as it has been made out to be. But there is no evidence that coronavirus deaths are overblown. The numbers don’t lie. As of mid-February, a total of 914,230 Americans had succumbed to the disease. However, the vast majority of COVID deaths were among men and women 65 years of age and older—679,808, nearly 75%, according to the number crunchers at Statistica.com. Indeed, the vast majority in that grouping was 75 years old and older and numbered 470,607.
The disproportionate population of seniors who died is noteworthy. The elderly are more likely to have underlying health issues, to begin with, and so it is understandable that an argument is being made that perhaps most of them passed away due to those issues. The National Council on Aging tells us, for example, that “eighty percent of adults 65 and older have at least one chronic condition, while 68% have two or more.”
A year ago, Stanford University doctors Eran Bendavid and Jay Bhattacharya penned an Opinion article for the Wall Street Journal that suggested the way the COVID death rate was being reported was inaccurate. “The true fatality rate is the portion of those infected [with the COVID disease] who die, not the deaths from identified positive cases,” they argued. The question is if a person tested positive for COVID and had one or more serious preconditions such as heart disease, respiratory disease, cerebrovascular disease, did he or she die from the COVID infection or from the underlying illness?
The issue cropped up again a few weeks ago when British Health Minister Sajid Javid told reporters at a news conference, “We estimate that around 40 percent of the people with COVID in hospital [in the U.K.] are there not because they’ve got COVID , but they happen to have COVID, so it’s what you might call an incidental infection … That’s almost double the percentage that we saw with Delta, and that’s important because the deaths that are being reported of people who were COVID-positive within 28 days of passing away, many of those people would not have necessarily died of COVID.”
Soon after the Minister’s remarks, a “You-Tuber” who calls himself Dr. John Campbell, posted a video report in which he interpreted Javid as suggesting it is important to take age and health into account when counting those who died due to COVID because they were close to death, anyway.
Referring to the 131,372 individuals who died between the outbreak of COVID in the U.K. through September 30, 2021, Campbell said just 17,371 of them had no pre-existing conditions, and that was the actual number of people who died from COVID. As he saw it, the remaining 114,000 did suffer from an underlying condition and should not be included in the COVID mortality count.
Another YouTuber, Professor Greg Whyte, a biomedical researcher, and professor at the National University of Singapore, took umbrage at Campbell’s presentation, calling it “particularly dangerous misinformation.” Professor Whyte says Campbell’s “argument seems to be that those who died from COVID and had pre-existing conditions were already in some sense ill and that their illness or their condition means that we shouldn’t add as much importance to their deaths.”
So, who are those most likely to die from a COVID infection? Dr. David Grabowski, professor of health care policy at Harvard Medical School, in an interview on PBS News Hour, said it’s the oldest among us who are. “They’re individuals aged 85 and older. They’re individuals with comorbidities — cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes. They are also typically individuals living in nursing homes … And these congregate living environments are actually the perfect storm for the spread of COVID. You have individuals often sharing a room, sharing a bathroom, communal dining, and activities. So all of these features lead to those big outbreaks we have all read about.”
But, in the end, they died as a result of COVID.