Almost three years since the coronavirus pandemic took hold, CNN medical analyst and Washington Post columnist Dr. Leana Wen has admitted the medical community is ‘overcounting’ the number of ‘COVID deaths and hospitalizations.’
In an opinion piece entitled: ‘We are overcounting COVID deaths and hospitalizations. That’s a problem,’ Wen cites sources that claim that most ‘patients diagnosed with COVID are actually in the hospital for some other illness.’
Wen begins: ‘According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the United States is experiencing around 400 COVID deaths every day. At that rate, there would be nearly 150,000 deaths a year. But are these Americans dying from COVID or with COVID?’
Wen states: ‘Understanding this distinction is crucial to putting the continuing toll of the coronavirus into perspective. Determining how likely it is an infection will result in hospitalization or death helps people weigh their own risk.’
Wen had the backing of two other infectious-disease experts who also believe that the number of deaths attributed to COVID is greater than the actual number of people dying from the virus.
She cites one expert, Robin Dretler, an attending physician at Emory Decatur Hospital, who estimates that at his hospital, 90% of patients diagnosed with COVID-19 are actually in the hospital for some other illness.
Dretler said that this contributes to imprecise reporting on COVID-19 deaths and hospitalizations, which he claims does not come from a place of bad intent.
‘Since every hospitalized patient gets tested for COVID many are incidentally positive. If these patients die, COVID might get added to their death certificate along with the other diagnoses. But the coronavirus was not the primary contributor to their death and often played no role at all,’ Dretler told Wen.
The doctor also cites another infectious-disease physician, Shira Doron, who found that in recent months, only about 30% of total hospitalizations with COVID-19 were primarily attributed to the virus in Massachusetts hospitals.
‘During some days the proportion of those hospitalized because of COVID were as low as 10 percent of the total number reported’ who had COVID.
Wen states, ‘Doron acknowledges that there is a gray zone in the data in which COVID might not be the primary cause of death but could have contributed to it.’
There is common ground between the trio of doctors who agree that ‘inadvertently overstating risk can make the anxious more anxious and the skeptical more skeptical.’
‘To be clear, if the COVID death count turns out to be 30 percent of what’s currently reported, that’s still unacceptably high,’ Wen declares.
Her observations have prompted some readers to criticize the timing of her column, stating that the information is ‘two and a half years late’ while others have criticized the Washington Post for not highlighting this issue earlier.
California-based Epidemiologist Dr. Tracy Høegn tweeted: ‘Spring 2021 [USA] had good evidence >40% of child COVID admissions were incidental. 2021 Denmark announced they’d distinguish with vs from COVID hosp. COVID+ deaths in [Denmark] in 2022 [were] 60-70% incidental.’
‘Amazing how long it has taken the U.S. to accept this is a problem,’ she added.