The government infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci said Tuesday that the number of Americans who have died of a novel coronavirus infection was “almost certainly” higher than acknowledged statistics show.
More than 80,000 Americans have been killed by COVID-19, according to Johns Hopkins University and others keeping track of disease fatalities.
But in a hearing Tuesday — which he attended remotely after being exposed to someone infected with coronavirus — Fauci said the number was likely higher than that.
“Most of us feel that the number of deaths are likely higher than that number [80,000] because given the situation, particularly in New York City, when they were really strapped with a very serious challenge to their health care system, that there may have been people who died at home who did have COVID who were not counted as COVID because they never really got to the hospital,” Fauci testified, responding to a question from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).
“I think you are correct that the number is likely higher,” Fauci added. “I don’t know exactly what percent higher, but almost certainly it’s higher.”
New York City recently began releasing data on deceased individuals who were not confirmed to have had COVID-19 with a test, but whose death certificate listed COVID-19 or an equivalent as a cause of death.
The Centers for Disease Control published a preliminary estimate Monday that the true toll of the pandemic in the city was more than 24,000 deaths — a larger number than New York City’s “confirmed” and “probable” COVID fatalities combined. The figure represents the number of deaths in excess of past averages over the same time period.