Are international agencies and governments inflating the number of coronavirus-related deaths ?
Last edition the 26 Apr 2020 17:39:04 - Review by Nelly Pailleux , correction by Lina Fourneau , coordination by Amaury Lesplingart
On April 10, 2020, Alexis Cossette claims, on YouTube Radio Québec channel, that governments are deliberately exaggerating the numbers of Covid-19 deaths for political purposes. _Journalistes Solidaires _dissected his comments to extract the truth about those numbers.
A "global statistical fraud" in the counting of deaths related to Covid-19: this is Alexis Cossette's accusation against the WHO, the UN, and governments. In a long video that has already been viewed more than 490,000 times, he claims that states are "simultaneously applying WHO guidelines to inflate the numbers". Their objective, according to the Quebecer: to use this pretext to impose new control measures such as containment. And ultimately, to establish a new world order.
Institutions and states accused of conspiracy
He starts by quoting Italian doctor Walter Ricciardi. The latter is quoted as saying that in Italy, only "12% of Covid-19 deaths are real." But this sentence has been taken out of context. According to the British newspaper The Telegraph, Walter Ricciardi real quote is : "according to a re-evaluation by the National Institutes of Health, only 12% of death certificates listed coronavirus as the direct cause of death" while 88% of patients who died had at least another cause of death or co-morbidity
Speaking of "direct cause", Walter Ricciardi points out that death certificates with a single line marked "coronavirus" only concern 12% of cases. This is a trend also observed in France, according to the latest reports from Santé Publique France (Public Health France).
In a death certificate, several lines are provided to mention all the disorders and illnesses - the so-called associated causes - that contributed to the death. However, as this 1980 edition of WHO shows, the last infection or disorder that caused death must be marked first. And it is this last infection or disorder that is generally accepted as the official cause of death.
Including deaths by an epidemiological link in the counts do not inflate the numbers
According to Alexis Cossette, another thing would lead to "inflating the numbers": the accounting of death by “epidemiological link”. He evokes this term through Quebec's national director of public health statements, Horacio Arruda. According to Cossette's definition:
"If a person with cancer dies in a house where there is a reported case of COVID, he is not considered to have died of cancer but of Covid-19".
Except that the example given by Cossette is far from representing what a "confirmed Covid-19 case by epidemiological link" really means. Indeed, according to the Canadian government official definition, which is summarized here by the Quebec National Institute of Public Health:
"A case confirmed by epidemiological link corresponds to a person who has developed compatible symptoms [fever OR cough OR difficulty breathing OR sudden loss of smell with or without loss of taste] while he or she was a high-risk contact of a laboratory-confirmed case and there is no other apparent cause. This case may have occurred before the laboratory-confirmed case."
Contrary to what Cossette presents, someonewho has cancer cannot fit into this definition. Why can't he? Because cancer itself is an "apparent cause of death", especially since its symptoms are not those of Covid-19.
While confirming the death by "epidemiological link" is common in Canada, this is not the case in all countries. In France, for example, only tests are authentic, as shown by the National Public Health Agency in its definition of cases of SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) infection.
Dying with the coronavirus = dying of the coronavirus?
In his video, Alexis Cossette also features Deborah Birx, the current US coordinator for the White House Coronavirus Task Force. The video part he uses comes from a press conference reported by the American television channel, Fox News. In it, the representative says, "We have a liberal approach to mortality, if someone dies with Covid-19, we are counting that as a Covid-19 death."
At this point, the video maker wants to prove the nonsense of Deborah Birx. To do so, he gives the following example: a person who has been tested positive then died in a parachute jump. With the American approach, this person would be counted.
Except that in the United States, counting coronavirus-related deaths sometimes changes completely. As the French newspaper Libération reports, the methodology varies from State to State.
Cossette builds on this American example and extends it to the whole world. It is true that some countries count all people tested and then dead, regardless of location. This is particularly the case in Italy. However, the Italian Higher Institute of Health is transparent on this subject: it confirms that the number of victims is counted under the criterion "died with" Covid-19 (and not "of") while waiting to know the real cause. Thus a person infected with Covid-19 but dead from a parachute jump would be counted in the first instance. However, this person would then be subtracted from the count.
Statistical methods which, on the contrary, would undermine the spread and balance of the coronavirus
According to Cossette, for institutions and states, all means are good to inflate the figures. This is how he explains the French measure concerning the end of systematic screening: "They don't test anymore, no need, come on! They're all classified as COVID+". As proof, he relies on this tweet from the French government:
For Santé Publique France, the end of systematic testing leads above all to an underestimation of infected cases:
"Patients showing signs of COVID-19 are no longer systematically confirmed by a biological test. (...) The actual number of COVID-19 cases in France is, therefore, higher than the number of confirmed cases reported."
In Europe, certain categories of populations are left out of the victim toll
While Cossette persists in demonstrating this "global statistical fraud", the counting methods observed in many countries seem to prove the opposite: figures are underestimated rather than exaggerated.
First of all, retirement homes were included only lately in Europe. In Spain, a good part of the elderly people who die in retirement homes is not tested. So despite Covid’s suspicions, they are not included.
In France, only those tested and who died in hospitals or retirement homes are counted. Thus, deaths at home are not part of it for the moment, even though they represent 23% of total deaths according to INSEE.
Deaths from all causes increased overall by 20% on French territory between 1 March and 6 April compared to the same period in 2019. The excess mortality recorded for this period, is even higher than the official COVID balance sheet as of 6 April. From 1 April onwards, the curve seems to fall slightly to 2,470 deaths per day. As a comparison, over the last 5 years, the number of deaths had peaked at an average of 2,200 deaths per day, at the time of the flu epidemic peak in January 2017.
Conclusion: No global swelling in the Covid-19 death count, but different methods in different countries
Thus, INSEE notes significant excess mortality, which seems to begin to decrease two weeks after confinement. By qualifying Covid-19 as simple severe pneumonia and by inviting its spectators not to respect the containment measures, Alexis Cossette denies this reality.
While his sources seem valid, his interpretation of them is erroneous. He does not take into account all the factors that lead to an underestimation of the balance sheet, nor does he verify the conditions, under which, statistical methods or government measures are applied.
Differences in accounting methods indeed exist between countries, but they would lead to lower rather than higher figures. It would, therefore, be rather risky to lower one's guard today for unfounded suspicions.
About the investigation
The informations above explain to you our investigations methodology.
Vérifiée et fausse
First time seen
17 Apr 2020
26 Apr 2020
First spotted on
- Review and notes on Radio Québec's suspicious source video
- First post-viewing conclusions + listings of the 3 key points
- After hearing of what the video says, change our starting point from "In Canada, was there fraud in the Covid-19 victim count" to "A global fraud in the Covid-19 victim count?"
- Calling an epidemiologist/expert in the Discord KezaCovid group
- Agreement of the three of us on the final structure of the article
- Listing of potential contact persons
- Answers from virology specialists (from Discord KezaCovid cf. call Log)
- Tighten the perspective on the video and what is exposed in it: "Conspiracy: A global fraud in the counting of Covid 19 victims as claimed in this video? FALSE" = Alexis Cossette, is he telling the truth? No, and here's why
- Draft of the first draft
- Correction and reformulations
- Attempt to reduce the text (too long)
Tracks and conclusions
Alexis Cossette, in this video, is clearly an adept of conspiracy theories. His sources concerning the unreliability of the numbers seem quite valid (even if he tends to over-interpret them) but the problem is the intention he puts behind it. He says that if governments don't track it down, if the figures are not accurate, if the media publish alarming headlines, or if chloroquine is not used everywhere, it must be because they want to establish a new world order, a third way between capitalism and socialism.
So the problem lies not only on the level of accounting, because Cossette estimates that only 12% of the Covid deaths are really deaths, but also in the interpretation of the measures taken to count these figures.
Following the editorial conference of 20/04/2020
Tighten the angle on the video and what is exposed in it: "Conspiracy: A global fraud in the counting of Covid 19 victims as claimed in this video? FALSE."
Is Alexis Cossette right? No, and here's why: His discourse doesn't hold up: to dismantle Cossette's assertions argument by argument, by opposing concrete facts (to discredit his thesis, which is based on this third way on which he relies to convince his Internet users).
Conclusion: no inflating of the figures to scare the population and better curb their freedom. On the contrary, the balance sheet is in fact lightened/underestimated, which means that there is no plot to inflate it and scare people.
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