Follow Us

COVID expert warns hospitals may be overcounting coronavirus deaths

Infectious disease doc warns overcounts could paint vaccines in bad light.

Published: January 14, 2023 4:36pm

Updated: January 14, 2023 4:37pm

A noted COVID expert is warning that hospitals may be overcounting COVID deaths, potentially misleading the public and undermining the perception of coronavirus vaccines.

Leana Wen, a physician and professor at the George Washington University who has been a regular commentator on COVID over the past three years, wrote in the Washington Post this week of the “crucial” need to determine which Americans are “dying from covid” versus dying “with covid.”

That distinction has been a key point of the coronavirus debate over the past several years. In January of 2021 Just the News reported that state health officials were regularly conflating dying “with” COVID as dying “from” it, leading to an overestimate of the true number of COVID-related deaths and potentially contributing to public panic.

In her column two years later Wen stressed the importance of recording the different diagnoses. 

“Determining how likely an infection will result in hospitalization or death helps people weigh their own risk,” she said. “It also enables health officials to assess when vaccine effectiveness wanes and future rounds of boosters are needed.”

Wen also quoted Shira Doron, the chief infection control officer at Tufts Medicine; Doron argued that “overcounting covid deaths undermines people’s sense of security and the efficacy of vaccines.”

Doron claimed that, during some days at Tufts, “the proportion of those hospitalized because of covid were as low as 10 percent of the total number reported.”

“[K]nowing who exactly is dying from covid,” Wen argues, “can help us identify who is truly vulnerable.”

The Facts Inside Our Reporter's Notebook

Just the News Spotlight