The guidelines of the World Health Organization (WHO) state that Covid-19 should always be listed as the cause of death as long as the is no clear alternative immediate cause of death, such as trauma from an accident. I would call this policy, “When in doubt, don’t count it out.” Center of Disease Control (CDC) guidelines follow the WHO guidelines.
If a person has Covid-19, WHO wants it counted whether it is clear that Covid-19 was the cause of death or not. It should be counted, also, if there is a reasonable suspicion that it could the cause of death. This probably leads to considerable over-counting of Covid-19 deaths.
The only way to really determine the cause of death when their are multiple illnesses is to do an autopsy. They are not doing autopsies on the hundreds of thousands of deaths being attributed to Covid-19. It would not be practical to do an autopsy for every death.
With HIV/AIDS, it was totally the opposite. An HIV infection does not kill anyone directly. According to the current medical view, HIV infection is an underlying condition, which suppresses the immune system. This leads to a condition called, “acquired immunodeficiency syndrome” (AIDS). People who die with an HIV infection have an immediate cause of death that is one of many other opportunistic diseases that manifests itself due to the weakened immune system. However, the disease that actually kills the patient is not listed as the cause of death when HIV is present. The cause of death is listed as “HIV/AIDS”, the underlying condition. The underlying condition is listed as the cause of death when HIV is present, no matter what opportunist disease immediately kills the patient in contrast to the situation with Covid-19.
Covid-19 is an opportunist disease, which kills mainly people who have a weakened immune system due to another condition. With Covid-19, the cause of death is listed as “Covid-19”, because it is the immediate cause of death. Or, if it is found to be present at all via testing, it can be assumed to be the cause of death. Or, if the doctor just suspects the patient has symptoms of Covid-19, even without verifying it with a test, it can be listed as the cause of death.
Some countries have very low death rates due to Covid-19. This could be due to those countries ignoring the WHO guideline and only counting deaths that are caused by Covid-19 without any other underlying conditions. The number of deaths caused solely by Covid-19 without an underlying condition is very low. Some countries may only partially follow the WHO guidelines and therefore have deaths rates that are intermediate. In any case, it seems highly doubtful that all countries are following the same standard in their counts of Covid-19 deaths.
Embedded below, so you can read it for yourself, is the entire guidelines document from the World Health Organization for classifying Covid as the Cause of Death.