Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky drew criticism on Sunday for her method of identifying COVID-19 deaths in the U.S., making a sudden distinction between those who died “from” the virus and those who died “with” it.
During an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Walensky was asked about vaccinated Americans who have contracted the virus – and whether anyone has died from an infection, despite being inoculated. Walensky said the CDC is aware of 223 so-called “break-through” infections in vaccinated Americans, but clarified that many of those individuals died due to other causes.
“Not all of those 223 cases who had COVID actually died of COVID,” she said. “They may have had mild disease but died, for example, of a heart attack.”
But critics pounced on Walensky’s reasoning.
“After all this time, we are going to start distinguishing died ‘with’ Covid from died ‘from’ Covid,” one Twitter user wrote. “How anyone lives with the dishonest reporting of numbers is beyond me. Either we treat all the deaths with the same questioning or none of them, Period.”
Another user wrote: ‘So she literally just admitted that the covid death count isn’t a real count of covid deaths. The response to this pandemic gets more baffling by the day.”
Others suggested that all COVID-19 deaths should be re-examined to determine whether the person died “from” the virus or “with” it.
“Sounds like 500k cases need to be reviewed to more accurately distinguish ‘with’ and ‘from’,” one user said. “Hmm, thought I heard this same sentiment expressed in the past.”
Close to 47% of the adult population in the U.S. is fully vaccinated, according to data published by the CDC, while nearly 60% of the adult population – or roughly 157 million people – has received at least one dose. The vaccination rate is expected to rise shortly following the Food and Drug Administration’s approval this week for the use of the Pfizer vaccine in children between the ages of 12 and 15.
More than 32.7 million Americans have been infected with COVID-19, and more than 582,000 people died from the virus, according to the CDC.