U.S. Starts to Discern Between Those Dying From COVID and Those Dying With COVID

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Originally published on www.thevaccinereaction.org Carolyn Hendler, JD

There is a difference between dying from COVID-19 and dying with COVID-19. The number of people dying with the disease may be significantly greater than those dying from it. A recent article by CNN medical analyst and Washington Post columnist Dr. Leana Wen made the distinction between dying from COVID and dying with COVID.

Dr. Wen writes that, according to Robin Dretler, an attending doctor at Emory Decatur Hospital and ex-president of Georgia's chapter of Infectious Diseases Society of America, perhaps 90 percent of patients in hospitalized with COVID are really there for a poor health condition other than COVID disease. Since all patients are automatically tested for SARS-CoV-2 infection when they are admitted to the hospital, many are testing positive for the virus even though that is not what brought them into the hospital in the first place. When a SARS-CoV-2 positive patient passes away while hospitalized, COVID likely is listed as the cause of death on the death certificate, even though a SARS-CoV-2 infection was not the cause or even a contributing cause of their death.1

Infectious disease doctor, Shira Doran, MD measured the severity of SARS-CoV-2 infections in hospitals with the use of the steroid, dexamethasone, as that is standard treatment for patients with low oxygen levels. Patients with a COVID diagnosis who did not receive the steroid during their stay were likely in the hospital for another reason. Based on this method, a Massachusetts hospital reported that only 30 percent of their patients were admitted primarily for SARS-CoV-2 infection. At Tufts hospital, Dr. Doran reports that some days only 10 percent of those hospitalized were admitted due to COVID.2

U.S. Lags Behind Other Countries in Distinguishing Between Dying from COVID and Dying With COVID

While other countries noted the distinction between those hospitalized or dying from COVID and those hospitalized or dying with COVID as an intrinsic factor in the past, the U.S. has been slow to note the difference. In fact, Dr. Wen has been met with criticism for taking almost three years to note the difference between dying from COVID and dying with COVID. Jeffrey Tucker of The Brownstone Institute pointed out:

This is not just recently true. It's been true for three years! We truly do not know how many actually died from COVID, which means that not even the CFR is accurate.3

In December 2021, The United Kingdom's National Health Service (NHS) published data showing that 33 percent of the 8,321 people who tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 virus upon admission to the hospital on Dec. 28 were, in fact, admitted for a reason other than COVID. Meanwhile at a hospital in South Africa, 76 percent of the 166 patients testing positive for COVID that were admitted during a 15-day period in November 2021 were admitted for another reason.4

Denmark based epidemiologist, Dr. Tracy Høeg said that Denmark has been making the distinction between deaths from COVID and deaths with COVID since 2021. In 2022 60-70 percent of the COVID deaths had COVID as an incidental factor. Dr. Høeg stated, "Amazing how long it has taken the U.S. to accept this is a problem."5

Whistleblowers have been sounding the alarm about accurate COVID death reporting since the start of the pandemic. Milwaukee medical examiner Dr. Brian Peterson made the distinction back in 2020 when he started counting those who died with COVID separately from those who died with COVID, which caused a discrepancy with the official state COVID death count.

Dr. Peterson said:

Just because they have a true positive test, doesn't mean they have the disease and just because they have the disease, doesn't mean they die of it. I look for the signs of illness specific to this disease—cough, shortness of breath and fever.6

Personal stories support the theory that many people are dying with COVID rather than from COVID. Rhonda McRary of Oregon shares that her father passed away from advanced colon cancer about a month after diagnosis as the doctor predicated. He tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 at the time of his cancer diagnosis but showed no symptoms of the virus and was not quarantined. At the time of his death, he had no evidence of a SARS-CoV-2 infection, yet his death certificate listed COVID as the official cause of death.7

Some Hospitals Have Begun Tracking COVID as Incidental to Hospitalization and Death

In recent months some hospitals have begun to track patients who are admitted because of COVID separately from those who are admitted for another reason and incidentally test positive for the SARS COV-2 virus. Fifty-seven percent of patients testing positive for SARS-CoV-2 in New York hospitals were admitted for COVID, while the remaining 43 percent were admitted for another reason while testing positive for SARS-CoV-2.8 Massachusetts also recently began to make this distinction in hospitals to better inform the public about the true rates of hospitalization from the virus. They use the method explained by Dr. Doran of monitoring whether a COVID patient is administered the steroid dexamethasone during their stay to determine whether a patient was hospitalized because of COVID.9

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) corroborate the fact that many people are dying with COVID rather than from it. The agency reports that in 2022 the number of deaths listing COVID as a contributing factor rather than the cause of death is on the rise. In January 2022 approximately 85 percent of COVID deaths listed the disease as the underlying cause compared to April 2022 when 60-70 percent of deaths listed COVID as the underlying cause. Among adults aged 65 and older, the underlying cause of death being attributed to COVID was 92 percent in 2020. Between January through September 2022, this number had dropped to 80 percent. During these same time periods, people under the age of 65, the rate of COVID as the underlying cause of death decreased from 91 percent to 77 percent.10


1 Wen L. We are overcounting covid deaths and hospitalizations. That's a problem. The Washington Post Jan. 13, 2023.

2 Ibid.

3 Hays G. Dr. Leana Wen slammed after admitting there's been 'overcounting' of COVID deaths: 'TWO AND A HALF YEARS LATE'Fox News Jan. 14, 2022.

4 Zitser J. Corcoran, K. Many people hospitalized in the Omicron surge are there for other reasons and have only mild COVID-19. Insider Dec. 21, 2021.

5 Hays G. Dr. Leana Wen slammed after admitting there's been 'overcounting' of COVID deaths: 'TWO AND A HALF YEARS LATE'Fox News Jan. 14, 2022.

6 'Dying of' vs. 'dying with': Medical Examiner explains COVID-19 difference. WISN Dec. 8, 2020.

7 Severance C. Are dying with COVID-19 and dying from COVID-19 the same thing? In Oregon, they areKGW8 Aug. 8, 2020.

8 Radcliffe S. The Difference Between Being Hospitalized 'For COVID' and 'with COVID'Healthline Jan. 13, 2022.

9 Changes to Mass. COVID-19 Hospitalization Reporting Taking Effect. NBC Boston Jan. 10, 2022.

10 U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. COVID-19 as the Underlying or Contributing Cause of Death. Nov. 16, 2022.

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