Two infectious-disease experts I spoke with believe that the number of deaths attributed to covid is far greater than the actual number of people dying from covid. Robin Dretler, an attending physician at Emory Decatur Hospital and the former president of Georgia’s chapter of Infectious Diseases Society of America, estimates that at his hospital, 90 percent of patients diagnosed with covid are actually in the hospital for some other illness.
“Since every hospitalized patient gets tested for covid, many are incidentally positive,” he said. A gunshot victim or someone who had a heart attack, for example, could test positive for the virus, but the infection has no bearing on why they sought medical care.
Dretler also sees patients with multiple concurrent infections. “People who have very low white blood cell counts from chemotherapy might be admitted because of bacterial pneumonia or foot gangrene. They may also have covid, but covid is not the main reason why they’re so sick.”
If these patients die, covid might get added to their death certificate along with the other diagnoses. But the coronavirus was not the primary contributor to their death and often played no role at all.