ICD-10 code for COVID-19

The correct medical statistics is crucial during an epidemic. The mortality data are particularly significant during COVID-19 because it is one of the unusual signs of this epidemic.           

National Vital Statistic System (NVSS) issues COVID-19 Alert No. 2 letter on March 24, 2020 that “a newly-introduced ICD code has been implemented to accurately capture mortality data for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) on death certificates.” “The new ICD code for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is U07.1.”

The letter includes also a puzzling paragraph: “The WHO [World Health Organization] has provided a second code, U07.2, for clinical or epidemiological diagnosis of COVID-19 where a laboratory confirmation is inconclusive or not available. Because laboratory test results are not typically reported on death certificates in the U.S., NCHS [National Center for Health Statistics] is not planning to implement U07.2 for mortality statistics”. (Bold and [ ] brackets added).

Epidemiological diagnosis exists only in WHO’s heads. There are clinical and post mortem/autopsy diagnoses. The latter is not mentioned at all. Clinical and autopsy diagnoses can be a source for the epidemiological assessment but not otherwise. So called, epidemiological diagnosis makes mortality rate more discretional and to some degree inflate the numbers of death during COVID-19. The last thing that we need in this coronavirus pandemic which is accompanied by an epidemic of fear.

The World Health Organization allowed China (the second after USA donor) to hide real the COVID-19 outbreak’s numbers in December-January. The cavalierly approach to death statistics is not helpful, moreover counterproductive.

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