Fact Check-CDC comorbidity figures presented in sermon do not undermine deadliness of COVID-19

An old video of a pastor claiming that figures from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) prove the COVID-19 pandemic does not exist is recirculating online. The figures, which are from August 2020 when the video was posted, are correct but they do not show that the pandemic is fake: social media users sharing the video have misinterpreted the data. The CDC clearly acknowledges that the pandemic exists.

The posts ( here , here , here , here , ) show a video of John MacArthur, a pastor at Grace Community Church in Los Angeles, California (here) saying, “The CDC […] said that 6% of the deaths that have occurred can be directly attributed to COVID. 94% cannot. Of the 160,000 people that have died, 9,210 actually died from COVID.” From this statistic, MacArthur and captions and text overlaid on the video conclude, “There is no pandemic”; “There is no COVID19 pandemic” and “Of course there is no “pandemic””. Some posts include a summary page after the video which says, “CDC says there is no pandemic” and dates the remarks to June 24, 2021.

MacArthur made these comments at a service on August 30, 2020 ( here , here , here . This section has been removed from the video on the church’s website (here) but can be seen in a version of the video with a Spanish voiceover posted on the church’s official Spanish Facebook page here .

Further proof that these remarks were not made on June 24, 2021, as some social media users claim, can be found in the figure given for total COVID-19 deaths. MacArthur mentions 160,000 total deaths, which was correct in August 2020 but as of June 30, 2021, the CDC’s COVID-19 death total was 595,086, as shown here .

When these claims first surfaced in 2020 Reuters Fact Check showed that while the statistics mentioned (regarding comorbidities) were published by the CDC, they have been misinterpreted. A more detailed explanation on comorbidities and how they do not “undermine” COVID-19 deaths as posts have claimed can be read here .

All of the people who died of COVID-19 had COVID-19 as a cause of death on their death certificate. The CDC data just shows that 94% of those people who had COVID-19 also had other conditions listed on their death certificate, which are referred to as instances of ‘comorbidity’. For 6% of people COVID-19 alone was the cause of death.

The other conditions include COVID-19 complications or pre-existing conditions that increase the risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

At the time of publication of this article in July 2021, CDC data shows that for “over 5%” COVID-19 was the only cause of death mentioned in the death certificates, while the rest were instances of comorbidity (see ‘Comorbidities and other conditions’ section here ).

Kristen Nordlund, a spokesperson for the CDC told Reuters via email that there is no doubt on the CDC’s part that the pandemic exists: “The COVID-19 pandemic is still happening here in the United States and around the world. COVID-19 cases (here) are increasing in some parts of the United States, and on June 23, 2021, the United States surpassed 600,000 total deaths (here) from COVID-19. The word “pandemic” is mentioned multiple times in the White House press briefing from July 1: here .”

Reuters has previously debunked claims that the pandemic does not exist here , here and here . As of July 2 the World Health Organisation has reported 182,101,209 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 3,950,876 deaths (

MacArthur did not yet respond to Reuters request for comment.


False. The CDC figures cited in the video date back to August 2020. The 94% figure represents deaths where COVID-19 was listed as a cause of death alongside other conditions, but comorbidities do not mean that COVID-19 was not a trigger for the person’s death.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work here .