Are We Being Misled Concerning Covid-19 Deaths?
A recent newspaper headline in a rural county in Central California blared the following: “Local virus casualty was a beloved cowboy.” Any reader would immediately draw the conclusion that COVID-19 killed 60-year old Ken Machado of San Benito County. Yet, when one reads the actual news story, this interesting nugget appears:
Diane Machado was careful to emphasize that county health officers who have spoken with the family said that while Ken Machado tested positive for COVID-19 after his death, that does not mean the virus itself took his life. Ken Machado had a number of existing conditions, including Lyme Disease – which he contracted about 20 years ago – and heart disease. His sister and other family members think these underlying conditions were exacerbated by the COVID-19 illness.
Additionally, we read that the Santa Clara County Medical Examiner’s Office said Mr. Machado’s cause and manner of death are “pending.” We also learn that the victim had undergone two major heart surgeries and retired at age 40 due to Lyme Disease. He had also been in numerous significant automobile accidents prior to his death.
The tragic death of Mr. Machado raises an important question amid the panic over the pandemic. Are we receiving accurate information about the actual cause of death of individuals testing positive for COVID-19? Are health authorities and the media reporting that any deaths of individuals testing positive for the virus were directly caused by the virus? Are these reports exaggerating the true mortality numbers? Are we being misled in order to fan the fires of mass hysteria?
There are other examples that make us wonder if we are getting the truth. Consider this case cited by writer Christopher Ferrara:
A 61-year-old Warren County man who tested positive for COVID-19 died at a Lehigh Valley hospital, an advisory issued Saturday afternoon says…. Lehigh County Coroner Eric Minnich confirmed the patient died Friday night at St. Luke’s University Hospital in Fountain Hill. He said the primary cause of the man’s death was a head injury from a fall at home, but that the virus was listed as a contributing factor to his death. The case was one of two COVID-19 cases from Washington that were reported in the advisory. The other case is that of a 60-year-old man who is recuperating at home. They are the borough’s first two reported cases of the virus.
Italy has been especially hard-hit by the Chinese virus. More than 90,000 have been infected and more than 10,000 have perished. Yet, have all these 10,000 deaths been caused by the virus? Apparently, the answer is no. According to Prof. Walter Ricciardi, an advisor to Italy’s Minister of Health:
The way in which we code deaths in our country is very generous in the sense that all the people who die in hospitals with the coronavirus are deemed to be dying of the coronavirus. On re-evaluation by the National Institute of Health, only 12 per cent of death certificates have shown a direct causality from coronavirus, while 88 per cent of patients who have died have at least one pre-morbidity – many had two or three.
In the United Kingdom, COVID-19 has been made a notifiable disease which Prof. John Lee, a former National Health Service consultant pathologist – says may be distorting the numbers of deaths. According to Lee, this means anyone testing positive for COVID-19 and later dies is being recorded on the death certificate as having died from COVID-19, contrary to usual practices for infections of this kind. He observes: “There is a big difference between COVID-19 causing death, and COVID-19 being found in someone who died of other causes….We risk being convinced that we have averted something that was never going to be as severe as we feared.”
As a physician, I am on the front lines of life and death situations every day. I know that the causes of death are not necessarily cut and dry. Illnesses such as influenza can worsen existing situations in vulnerable and aging populations, but they can not necessarily be judged as the cause of death itself. We know that as many as 60,000 deaths annually in the United States are loosely associated with the flu. Very few die of the flu itself which normally clears up in a week or two, usually sooner with an antiviral like Tamiflu. Most die of a complication of the flu such as pneumonia, particularly in the elderly and those with compromised lung function. This is no different with COVID-19. Consider what the CDC observed about the 2009-10 H1N1 pandemic: “It is estimated that 0.001 percent to 0.007 percent of the world’s population died of respiratory complications associated with (H1N1)pdm09 virus infection during the first 12 months the virus circulated.”
What we don’t know is how many of the COVID-19 deaths can really be attributed to the virus or to some underlying health condition like heart or lung disease or diabetes. To truly understand the scope and seriousness of this crisis, we need accuracy. We need a denominator. We need the health establishment and media to get into the weeds of these statistics and give us the truth about what is really happening. Is this another Black Plague that will lead to the deaths of more than 2 million Americans as the doomsayers have projected or is it a more typical nasty seasonal bug whose victims may total in the tens of thousands.
Whatever it is, the Swamp is using it as an excuse in engage in the most far- reaching power grab in our nation’s history. The Bill of Rights is being shredded, Americans forced into house arrest, businesses made to close, and widespread talk of martial law and troops in our streets. This is unAmerican, unconstitutional, and unthinkable. A $2 trillion bailout bill has been passed without even a recorded vote in the House, a bailout which will treble an annual deficit that is already $1 trillion. The Fed will add insult to injury with an orgy of $4 trillion or more in relentless money-printing, buying every kind of commercial paper in the market, with the possible exception of toilet paper. This insanity will lead to an existential crisis of roaring hyperinflation and currency debasement in the coming years which will make the toilet paper more valuable than the dollar.
As a physician, I am trained to be a healer. Right now, America needs healing more than ever before. Yes, we need to kill the virus but we also need to kill unnecessary panic and hysteria. The virus will go away, but the consequences of overreacting at a time of deep public unease and uncertainty could result in long-lasting damage to our society that far outlives COVID-19.
Dr. James Veltmeyer is a prominent La Jolla physician voted “Top Doctor” in San Diego County in 2012, 2014, 2016, 2017, and 2019. Dr. Veltmeyer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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