Skepticism is growing in the United States about the accuracy of publicly reported numbers for Covid-19 deaths, according to Axios-Ipsos polling published on Tuesday.

Thirty-one percent of respondents in the survey said they believe the number of Americans dying from Covid-19 is in reality smaller than public data portrays. Skepticism was up from 23% in May.


Skepticism about coronavirus statistics was heavily correlated with media consumption habits, the poll found. A 62% majority of Fox News watchers said the statistics are overblown, while 48% who reported no main news source thought so. Only 7% of CNN and MSNBC watchers thought so.

Denialism around the virus is growing at a time when the US faces an unprecedented emergency of exploding case numbers and when the urgency is acute for coordinated action to prevent an uncontrollable outbreak, epidemiologists say.

Covid-19 death statistics are compiled by the federal government and by independent outlets from reports filed by hospitals and medical examiner or coroner’s offices. The official coronavirus death toll is in fact likely to undershoot the actual toll because many serious Covid-19 patients suffer from underlying conditions that might appear as the cause of death on a death certificate, public health experts advise.

The United States has confirmed more than 3.8m coronavirus cases and more than 140,000 deaths from Covid-19. More than 60,000 new cases were recorded on Monday, about four times the figure for all of Europe.


Donald Trump has repeatedly dismissed the pandemic as a threat, saying again in an interview on Sunday that the virus would simply disappear.

Republicans have been sowing doubt about coronavirus statistics for at least two months. The White House recently moved to make coronavirus figures more opaque, ordering hospitals to submit data on cases and deaths to the Department of Health and Human Services, led by a Trump loyalist, instead of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

With approval of his handling of coronavirus at an all-time low of 38% as the November election looms, Trump faces a political existential crisis in the pandemic. He planned to hold his first White House briefing on the virus in many months on Tuesday.