Coronavirus death rate is 3.4%, World Health Organization says, Trump says ‘hunch’ tells him that’s wrong


MARCH 5, 2020

Trump later put the number at less than 1%. President Donald Trump at coronavirus briefing in Bethesda, Maryland, on Mar. 3, 2020. – Evan Vucci/AP

WASHINGTON – The World Health Organization reported this week that the death rate for the coronavirus increased to 3.4% and is more lethal than the flu, which kills tens of thousands of Americans each year.

But President Donald Trump, citing only a “hunch,” called the number provided by world health leaders “false.”

Asked about WHO’s coronavirus fatality rate findings during an interview Wednesday, Trump told Fox News host Sean Hannity: “Well, I think the 3.4% is really a false number.”

He added, “now, this is just my hunch … based on a lot of conversations with a lot of people that do this, because a lot of people will have this, and it’s very mild.”


Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the head of the World Health Organization, announced the new fatality rate, which increased from the previous estimate of around 2%.

“Globally, about 3.4% of reported COVID-19 cases have died,” he said. “By comparison, seasonal flu generally kills far fewer than 1% of those infected.”

Critics on social media said the president should not value his best guess over scientific analysis.

“There’s really no excuse for the president to be spreading this kind of misinformation to downplay a deadly disease,” tweeted the Democratic National Committee’s “War Room.”

Chris Lu, a former staff member for President Barack Obama, said “this kind of irresponsible talk creates a false sense of security that endangers public health.”

Other analysts said Trump is echoing a point made by health officials – the fatality rate may be inflated because some cases are not being reported.

“As the number of people getting tested positive goes up, the mortality percentage will go down,” tweeted Ari Fleischer, a former press secretary for President George W. Bush.

President Donald Trumps pre-game Super Bowl interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity is broadcast in a bar on February 2, 2020 in Washington, D.C. – Mario Tama, Getty Images

Trump, who has spent days defending his administration’s response to the coronavirus outbreak, has often said the flu kills more people.

In the Hannity interview, Trump said that a “lot of people” have “very mild” cases of coronavirus, and don’t even see a doctor. They get better, he said, “by, you know, sitting around and even going to work.”

Health experts “don’t know about the easy cases, because the easy cases don’t go to the hospital,” Trump said, later adding: “So I think that that number is very high. I think the number – personally, I would say the number is way under 1%.”

Some critics latched onto Trump’s statement that some infected people are “even going to work,” but the president said in a Thursday morning tweet that he is not advocating that.

“I NEVER said people that are feeling sick should go to work,” Trump tweeted, calling it “disinformation put out by the Democrats.”

In discussing the fatality rate, Tedros said coronavirus is different from the flu.

“While many people globally have built up immunity to seasonal flu strains, COVID-19 is a new virus to which no one has immunity; that means more people are susceptible to infection, and some will suffer severe disease,” he told reporters.

Added Tedros: “Globally, about 3.4% of reported COVID-19 cases have died; by comparison, seasonal flu generally kills far fewer than 1% of those infected.”

Courtesy/Source: This article originally appeared on USA Today