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So according to the current data, around 80k people died worldwide to COVID-19. But afaik a big portion of them didn't actually die because of the virus directly, but they instead were infected with it in the past and in the fight between the immune system and the virus the immune got so weak, that other viruses could attack the body with its defences down. So the person technically died to other viruses and only indirectly to the coronavirus.

My question now is, how we can actually detect whether a person died to a virus because he was previously hit by COVID-19, or died to a virus (flu, etc.) without having been infected by corona in the past.

~Okaghana

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    "without having been infected by corona in the past." Up until a few days ago almost all of the tests for Sars-Cov-2 were based on looking for evidence of the viruses RNA use cDNA PCR. These tests really only test for active infection, or within a very short window following infection. Serological tests that look for anti-bodies and can detect past infections are just now becoming available. – Charles E. Grant Apr 8 at 17:53
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    Note that there is nothing particularly special about covid-19 here; most causes of death are indirect in some way, the only real causes of death are brain death and cardiac death, and really these are definitions and not causes. – Bryan Krause Apr 8 at 19:58
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Death is the result of some kind of systemic failure in the human body. What in medicine is sometimes called "natural death" is the kind of death that seems not violent to the observers, the distinction natural vs. unnatural does have various interpretations but no fixed meaning (check e. g. Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manner_of_death that distinguishes death from infectious diseases as non-natural).

Aside of this, it is not always very easy to determine the exact reason for death. Pathologists try to establish a chain of causes that lead to death but this is, even after post-mortem examination or autopsy, not always conclusive from a scientific point of view.

One way to establish a death primarily by COVID-19 as causal factor would be an otherwise completely healthy person that had regular medical checkups (as not to overlook something else) that suddenly became ill with COVID-19 and died of the consequences of the disease. If it has not been established that an otherwise healthy person was COVID-19 positive then a post-mortem diagnosis may be done as well (e. g. see WHO's https://apps.who.int/iris/handle/10665/331329 where there is a checkbox to indicate whether the sample was taken post-mortem).

Most COVID-19 deaths occur in people having previous illnesses. One way people die in this situation is that the systemic failure due to various previous illnesses is seriously aggravated by having to fight off yet another disease that has side effects on various organ systems. This acute disease on an otherwise possibly chronically stable situation can push a person's condition from fragile but stable, i. e. compensated, to decompensation and death.

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You said

But afaik a big portion of them didn't actually die because of the virus directly, but they instead were infected with it in the past and in the fight between the immune system and the virus the immune got so weak, that other viruses could attack the body with its defences down. So the person technically died to other viruses and only indirectly to the coronavirus.

How did you know this? We have no data to suggest that any of the statements you made here are correct.

The cause of death is determined by the treating clinician or at post mortem. Covid-19 attacks a number of organ systems including the lungs, heart, liver, kidneys, pancreas and gut.

It's pretty obvious to the treating clinician what the cause of death is. The immediate cause may be the heart stops, but the underlying cause may be inflammation of the heart caused by virus, or because lack of oxygen triggers a heart attack and so forth. In short it's a clinical decision. If someone dies at home, then a post mortem could be done but in this current pandemic, it would be unwise and dangerous to do so without full protective equipment.

“We’ve made it very clear, every time I’ve been up here, about the comorbidities,” Birx said Wednesday during the White House press briefing. “This has been known from the beginning. So those individuals will have an underlying condition but that underlying condition did not cause their acute death when it’s related to a Covid infection.”

https://edition.cnn.com/world/live-news/coronavirus-pandemic-04-08-20/index.html

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