Covid-19 Fatalities, Excess Fatalities, and Conspiracies

In the latest conspiracy theory, some have argued that since only about 6% of Covid-19 fatalities state solely Covid-19 as a cause of death, pandemic fatalities are incredibly overstated. Inspection of the statistics suggest reported Covid-19 fatalities are, if anything, understating pandemic fatalities.

Figure 1: Weekly fatalities due to Covid-19 as reported to CDC for weeks ending on indicated dates (black), excess fatalities calculated as actual minus expected (teal), fatalities as tabulated by The Covid Tracking Project/Atlantic (dark red), all on log scale. Source: CDC accessed 9/5/2020 vintage, Covid Tracking Project/Atlantic accessed 9/5/2020 and author’s calculations.

From week ending February 29th through the week ending August 8th , the cumulative CDC fatality tally is 166.7 thousand. Cumulative excess fatalities is 226.1 thousand, implying an additional 59.3 thousand Covid-19 fatalities above the official tally over this period.

Notice that the unofficial tally declines slightly (per week), so the CDC data is clearly understating directly attributed and excess fatalities in the most recent data.