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"Does anybody really believe this?" At press conference, Trump slams China, Iran coronavirus stats

The two countries show vastly lower mortality rates than U.S., U.K., others

Published: April 18, 2020 5:48pm

Updated: April 18, 2020 6:14pm

President Trump on Saturday evening made several impromptu interruptions of his own coronavirus press conference to underscore the significantly low COVID-19 mortality rates declared by China and Iran, suggesting to reporters that the statistics have been falsified by the two countries. 

The president twice stepped in while Coronavirus Task Force Response Coordinator Deborah Birx was speaking to reporters, calling their attention to a slide she had presented on the coronavirus mortality rates of several countries. The slide listed China's rate at 0.33 deaths per 100,000 citizens, with Iran's at 6.06. Both were markedly lower than the United States, France, the U.K., and other countries 

"Excuse me, does anybody really believe this number?" the president said at one point, pointing to China's position on the list. 

"I put China on there so you could see how basically unrealistic this could be," Birx told reporters, noting that the "highly developed healthcare delivery systems" of numerous European countries are listing fatality rates much higher than China, the origin and for several brutal weeks the epicenter of the pandemic. 

Trump shortly thereafter called attention to Iran's reported fatality rate. "You see what's going on here," he told reporters. 

U.S. intelligence officials have concluded that China significantly underreported the extent and death rate of the outbreak in that country. The country's government this week revised the number of deaths in Wuhan up by 50 percent, citing a further review of the death toll in that region. 

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