Conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh has claimed that the COVID-19 death toll is being exaggerated by governments “eager” to use modeling predictions to further their policies.

Limbaugh made the remarks on the Thursday edition of The Rush Limbaugh Show. He insisted that models used to predict the spread of disease were helping promote government policies, although he did not define which policies he meant or who exactly was behind the alleged scheme.

“People die on this planet every day from a wide variety of things,” said Limbaugh. “But because the coronavirus is out there, got everybody paranoid, governments are eager, almost, to chalk up as many deaths to coronavirus as they can because then it furthers the policies they have put in place by virtue of their models.”

Limbaugh suggested that many reported COVID-19 deaths could be from other causes instead. Most medical experts believe that the virus is likely underreported due to limited testing and other factors.

In addition to unnamed government figures, Limbaugh said that a host of other people, including Bill Gates, were less than concerned about the economic impact of the pandemic and were hoping to “shut down the entire country” by exaggerating dangers posed by the rapid spread of the virus.

The host insisted that he wasn’t trying to “stir things up” with the remarks, claiming that he was just giving viewers “facts.”

Limbaugh also cited speculation by Dr. John Lee, a retired British pathologist who claims that deaths attributed to COVID-19 could be from other illnesses. Lee disagrees with a large majority of experts in claiming that the virus is not much worse than the seasonal flu while maintaining that health officials are over reacting to the pandemic.

“He’s concerned that with this new arrival of COVID-19, that coronavirus is being listed as a cause of death for many people who are not dying because of it,” Limbaugh said. “They’re dying because of other things. But it’s speculation.”

Limbaugh closed the segment by admitting that he hadn’t spent much time thinking about his remarks, insisting that everything on his radio show and his personal life is spontaneous.

“Everything’s spontaneous on this program, folks. I’m a spontaneous person. I don’t plan very much in advance, in my life at all,” Limbaugh said. “I want to leave the option open for something better to come up… I plan so little in advance, I actually don’t even need a calendar.”–NEWSWEEK