WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump is disputing a new World Health Organization report that 3.4% of people who contract the coronavirus die from it – but he cites only his "hunch."
Asked about the WHO's coronavirus fatality rate findings during an interview Wednesday, Trump told Fox News host Sean Hannity: "Well, I think the 3.4% is really a false number."
He added, "now, this is just my hunch ... based on a lot of conversations with a lot of people that do this, because a lot of people will have this, and it's very mild."
Trump later put the number at less than 1%.
Critics said the president should not value his best guess over scientific analysis.
"There’s really no excuse for the president to be spreading this kind of misinformation to downplay a deadly disease," tweeted the Democratic National Committee's "War Room."
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the head of the World Health Organization, announced this week that the new fatality rate for coronavorus is 3.4%, higher than the previous estimate of around 2%. He also said the coronavirus is much deadlier than regular flu.
"Globally, about 3.4% of reported COVID-19 cases have died," he said. "By comparison, seasonal flu generally kills far fewer than 1 percent of those infected."
Trump, who has spent days defending his administration's response to the coronavirus outbreak, has often said the flu kills more people.
In the Hannity interview, Trump said that a "lot of people" have "very mild" cases of coronavirus, and don't even see a doctor. They get better, he said, "by, you know, sitting around and even going to work."
Health experts "don't know about the easy cases, because the easy cases don't go to the hospital," Trump said, later adding: "So I think that that number is very high. I think the number – personally, I would say the number is way under 1%."
In his report, Tedros said coronavirus is different from the flu.
"While many people globally have built up immunity to seasonal flu strains, COVID-19 is a new virus to which no one has immunity; that means more people are susceptible to infection, and some will suffer severe disease," he told reporters.
Added Tedros: "Globally, about 3.4% of reported COVID-19 cases have died; by comparison, seasonal flu generally kills far fewer than 1 percent of those infected."