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Frontline Library

Death "With COVID" vs Death "From COVID"

The World Health Organization (WHO) created a very broad definition of what is considered to be a “COVID death”, and this definition was adopted worldwide. According to their definition, a COVID death is one where a person had a confirmed or suspected case of COVID at any time, prior to death.[1] This means that what is reported as a COVID death may have another cause, like cancer or a heart condition. Nevertheless, if the hospital suspects COVID, or if the patient tested positive, even when no COVID symptoms are present, it is recorded as a COVID death. By mid-April 2020 nearly 37% of COVID deaths in New York City were “presumptive” COVID deaths.[2]

According to a UK study over the summer of 2020, nearly a third of all deaths recorded as COVID did not have COVID as an “underlying cause of death”.[3] That figure appears to be consistent with other time periods as well.[4]  In addition, once COVID was recorded as a reason for death on the death certificate, it could not be rescinded, even if it was in error.[5] Meanwhile, in the USA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that only about 6% of COVID deaths had no comorbidity.[6] This means that 94% of COVID deaths had additional contributing causes of death listed on the death certificate.[7]

Email questions or comments to frontlinepedia@aflds.org 

[1] https://www.who.int/classifications/icd/Guidelines_Cause_of_Death_COVID-19.pdf

[2]More than 3,700 additional people who were presumed to have died of the coronavirus”


[3]This proportion has risen substantially to nearly a third over the last eight weeks” 


[4] https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9467793/Covid-lockdown-UK-Nearly-quarter-people-dying-Covid-NOT-killed-virus.html 

[5] https://www.who.int/classifications/icd/Guidelines_Cause_of_Death_COVID-19.pdf bottom of page 8

[6]CDC report shows 94% of COVID-19 deaths in U.S. had contributing conditions” 


[7] https://abc-7.com/news/2020/08/31/cdc-report-shows-94-of-covid-19-deaths-in-u-s-had-contributing-conditions/ 

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