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Trump: WHO's Coronavirus Stat Is a 'False Number'

President says 3.4% death rate is way too high
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 5, 2020 6:31 AM CST

(Newser) – Earlier this week, the World Health Organization estimated the death rate from COVID-19 to be 3.4%, higher than initial estimates and far worse than the seasonal flu, notes CNBC. President Trump, for one, disagrees. In an interview with Sean Hannity on Fox News Wednesday night, the president dismissed the stat as a "false number," reports the Daily Beast. "Now, this is just my hunch," said the president, one he said is "based on a lot of conversations with a lot of people" with expertise. Trump argued the stat is inflated because so many "mild" cases go unreported. "They don’t know about the easy cases because the easy cases don’t go to the hospital, they don’t report to doctors or the hospital in many cases, so I think that that number is very high," Trump said. "Personally, I would say the number is way under 1%."

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Business Insider notes that the WHO stat is expected to change as more data becomes available, and its coverage includes this line: "Experts predict that the percentage of deaths will decrease in the longer term since milder cases of COVID-19 are probably going undiagnosed." Still, Brian Stelter of CNN calls Trump's words "irresponsible," and he faults Hannity for allowing Trump to air a "hunch" at odds with the current opinion of health experts. A New York Times analysis, written before the Fox interview, expresses a similar sentiment about Trump, noting his claim that a vaccine is just months away and clarifying that "in reality, it won’t be ready for more than a year." (Read more coronavirus stories.)

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