On Mar. 19, 2020, the number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 in Italy reached 3,405. The number was significant in that it surpassed the number of COVID-19 deaths in China, which stood at 3,245 at the time, and thus it was widely reported by the media.
The following day, the president of the Italian Civil Protection Department, Angelo Borrelli, held a press briefing regarding the COVID-19 outbreak in the country and he specifically addressed the death count.
"I want you to remember these people died with the coronavirus and not from the coronavirus."
Borrelli was clarifying that the 3,405 people who died did not all die from COVID-19 even though they tested positive for the coronavirus that can cause the disease. He was making the distinction between dying with the virus and dying from the virus, which is not a negligible thing.
Particularly when the perceived lethality of the virus may be the key factor behind public policy decisions to encourage “social distancing,” quarantine certain people and mandate the closure of large segments of society and even potentially institute martial law, suspend constitutional rights and violate basic civil liberties.
Padding the numbers doesn’t make sense unless the goal is to create more fear and panic.
So if 3,405 people reportedly died of COVID-19 in Italy by Mar. 19 and not all of them died with COVID-19 as the primary cause of death, then what was the real number? According to Prof. Ricciardi:
"On re-evaluation by the [Italian] National Institute of Health, only 12 percent of death certificates have shown a direct causality from coronavirus, while 88 percent of patients who have died have at least one pre-morbidity—many had two or three."
If that’s true, then, of the 3,405 deaths initially reported in Italy as being solely caused by COVID-19, only 409 of them actually can be classified as COVID-19 deaths. That is a huge discrepancy, and one that can dramatically skew the public’s view of the impact of COVID-19 in Italy.
What if this same dynamic were in play in the United States? What if only 12 percent of the deaths attributed to COVID-19 in the U.S. were actually caused by the virus?