Commentary on Political Economy

Tuesday, 1 September 2020



Trump Claims China Had Thousands More Virus Deaths Than Reported

Updated on 
  • He says the country ‘lost tens of thousands of people’
  • Trump doesn’t provide evidence to back up his claims
Donald Trump
Donald Trump Photographer: Al Drago/Bloomberg

President Donald Trump asserted that thousands more people have died from the coronavirus in China than the Beijing government has acknowledged, without citing any evidence.

“They lost tens of thousands of people,” Trump said in an interview with Fox News’s Laura Ingraham that was broadcast on Tuesday night. “They lost more than any other country, they just don’t report it.”

China has reported 4,724 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University -- far fewer than the 184,644 deaths in the U.S., which has the highest number in the world.

Trump has been escalating his attacks on China as he trails Democrat Joe Biden in polls before the November election and surveys show Americans disapprove of the president’s handling of the crisis.

When Ingraham asked Trump how he knows the number of virus deaths in China, he changed the subject.

“And by the way, I saw a statistic that came out the other day talking about only 6% of the people actually died from covid, which is a very interesting,” he said without providing any evidence or detail.

Trump may have been referring to data posted on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website saying “for 6% of deaths, Covid-19 was the only cause mentioned.” But that does not mean the other deaths were not caused by the coronavirus. Many of the remaining deaths listed factors like respiratory failure that are triggered by the virus. Other people had conditions like obesity and diabetes, which can worsen the virus’ effects.

The president last weekend re-tweeted a supporter of the unfounded QAnon conspiracy theory who cited the 6% figure to argue that the U.S. death count was inflated, but the tweet was later deleted.

“There are 180,000-plus deaths -- are real deaths from Covid-19. Let there not be any confusion about that,” Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, said on ABC’s “Good Morning America” Tuesday when asked about Trump’s re-tweet.

Ingraham followed up in the Fox interview by saying the numbers show that the presence of co-morbidities still means Covid-19 might have been the “key” factor in a patient’s death.

“It could be. But it’s an interesting statistic,” the president responded.

(Updates with Fauci quote, in eighth paragraph.)

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