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Only 83 COVID deaths in Australia? Paul Murray's claim goes viral - but it's not true

Updated: Feb 23, 2022

Video of the Sky News segment has now spread on multiple social media platforms.

A viral claim stating that that only 83 people have died solely from COVID-19 in Australia since the pandemic began has spread online, with it originated from a segment on Sky News program 'Paul Murray Live' last week.

Murray was looking at new data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics regarding COVID-19 deaths, with the lower third graphic saying it was "JUST THE COVID FACTS."

"So, how many people have actually died not with but exclusively from COVID in Australia in the past couple of years? It is...83."

"That's the truth. That's the reality," Murray went onto say.

The only problem? Some of that data has been misinterpreted.

The Bureau of Statistics' own website says that "2,639 deaths where people died with or from COVID-19 that occurred by 31 January 2022 have been registered and received by the ABS."

They state that "the majority (2,556 deaths) of these 2,639 deaths were due directly to COVID-19," and add that "there were 83 people who died with COVID-19."

But when you scroll down the page, it gives you some extra information, saying that "other deaths that had COVID-19 as a term on the death certificate included 83 deaths which were COVID-19 related."

"This is where the person died with COVID-19 (confirmed or suspected) but it was not the underlying cause of death."

The AAP says that the number of deaths where COVID alone was reported on the death certificate is 220, and an ABS spokesman told them that "where COVID-19 was listed as a cause on the certificate, 83 of these were not due to the virus itself but another condition," and an example of “another condition” could be late stage cancer.

But the claim didn’t stop spreading on Sky News - over at the Herald Sun, a now-deleted tweet also used the incorrect information.

Rita Panahi, who wrote the article, posted an image of her article on Twitter - which did not mention the '83 deaths' figure, unlike the tweet.

The clip from Sky News has now spread on multiple social media platforms - including Facebook, Twitter & TikTok - and has racked up a large amount of views.

Watch our full report here.

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