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This CDC stat explains how dangerous the coronavirus is for perfectly healthy people

Published Aug 31st, 2020 11:04AM EDT
Coronavirus Deaths
Image: Vadim/Adobe

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  • The coronavirus death toll keeps climbing as the virus ravages various regions of the globe.
  • New data from the CDC shows exactly how dangerous the virus can be, even for perfectly healthy people.
  • The CDC said last week that some 6% of the Americans who died of COVID had no underlying medical conditions. The other 94% had an average of 2.6 health problems that may have made COVID-19 complications and death more likely.

The novel coronavirus pandemic has reached new records and the numbers will go up for some time to come. Almost 25.5 million people have been infected as of Monday morning, of which nearly 6.2 million are Americans. COVID-19 has claimed the lives of more than 855,000 people worldwide, with the US death toll figure sitting at just under 190,000. The world may be racing towards a vaccine and other therapies are in various stages of testing as well, but the pandemic has to be tamed with the safety measures we have available right now. That includes the wearing of face masks while in public, practicing social distancing as much as possible, and washing hands often. The alternative is having to deal with more outbreaks and more deaths as a result.

The virus does spare most people, especially younger patients and those people who do not have other health conditions. But there’s no denying that the virus is dangerous, and the latest COVID-19 mortality statistics from the CDC prove exactly how severe a threat the illness is.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its COVID-19 death counts a few days ago, revealing that 6% of the deaths occurred in patients who did not have any other life-threatening conditions. The remaining people who died from COVID-19 complications had an average of 2.6 additional health issues that may have affected their COIVD-19 prognoses:

For 6% of the deaths, COVID-19 was the only cause mentioned. For deaths with conditions or causes in addition to COVID-19, on average, there were 2.6 additional conditions or causes per death.

The CDC acknowledges in its report that the COVID-19 statistics are delayed because it takes time to gather the data from every state. And death certificates can arrive late as well, which would contribute to additional delays.

In other words, the 6% figure might increase or decrease a bit once all the data comes in. But applying the percentage to Monday morning’s stats would mean that nearly 11,400 of the 190,000 American COVID-19 deaths were otherwise healthy people. That’s a considerable number of deaths for a virus many conspiracy theorists believe to be a hoax. If we look at the 855,000 COVID-19 death toll worldwide, 6% amounts to more than 51,000 people. Again, it’s a huge figure that should put things in perspective.

The key takeaway here is that there’s no guarantee your case of COVID-19 will be easy or mild, even if you do not have other underlying medical conditions.

Unsurprisingly, there has been some controversy about the CDC’s latest COVID-19 numbers on social media, where conspiracy theory fans interpreted the data the wrong way. A person claimed on Twitter that the CDC has “quietly” updated its statistics to admit that only 6% of people listed as coronavirus deaths have died of COVID-19 because the other 94% had two or three other serious conditions. That’s just plain stupid. President Trump even retweeted that preposterous claim, which sadly shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to anyone. The tweet has since been deleted because Twitter deemed it to be in violation of its rules.

Twitter removed a second tweet that was picked up by President Trump on Sunday that spread the same asinine claim, as noted by CNN.

For months, conspiracy theories floated on social media have claimed that COVID-19 doesn’t kill people. Instead, it’s the other medical conditions that get you. But that’s not true at all. You could live with many of those other conditions for years or decades without being at risk of sudden death, which is what happens with COVID-19. The problem is that those conditions hinder the body’s response to the virus and favor complications. But it’s the presence of the virus inside the body that hastens death for these at-risk patients, and it’s important to remember that countless people have underlying conditions that have not been diagnosed.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.