The Wuhan coronavirus, now known as COVID-19 by the World Health Organization, has officially infected more than 45,200 people. The disease is still concentrated in mainland China, with over 70% of the infected residing in Hubei province.
But despite the staggering scope of the outbreak, independent scientists still think China is underreporting the crisis.
Officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) believe the COVID-19 infection numbers are actually much higher than the Chinese government is reporting.
The number of total cases of COVID-19 is growing at a steady clip, but the virus’ infection rate seems to be slowing in China.
COVID-19 infected 2,071 new patients on Feb. 11, down from 2,546 on Feb. 10 and 3,001 on Feb. 9th. But with Chinese cases excluded from the data, the virus continues to grow at an alarming rate.
On Tuesday, the virus added 56 more patients outside of China. This was partially due to quarantined cruise ships that have become breeding grounds for the deadly infection.
A total of 175 cases have been confirmed on the Diamond Princess in Japan, and over 5,000 people are currently stuck on cruise ships over outbreak fears.
The coronavirus’ rapid spread outside of China may indicate that the Chinese authorities are downplaying the severity of the situation at home. Even the CDC concedes that.
Here is CDC Principal Deputy Director Dr. Anne Schuchat at the National Press Club on Tuesday:
We absolutely assume that the reported cases are underestimated, the early exportation of the virus to a number of countries was used by mathematical modelers to estimate what the total cases must be.
Dr. Schuchat stopped short of officially repudiating Chinese statistics. And she didn’t provide an official number of what her organization believes the COVID-19 caseload actually is.
But the CDC’s remarks will inevitably fuel speculation that the Chinese authorities are covering up the full extent of the coronavirus crisis.
Many believe Chinese authorities are fudging the numbers to create an illusion of progress.
In fact, the Chinese National Health Commission may have recently changed its definition of a “confirmed” case of COVID-19. Here is what Alex Lam, a Hong-Kong Based reporter, claims:
Reporting from the Wall Street Journal also suggests that Chinese authorities are turning away “false negative” patients who show obvious symptoms but test negative for the COVID-19.
Independent research published on the Lancet confirms the outbreak could be underreported. Their models indicate that the number of infections could be as high as 75,800 in Wuhan alone.
The study concludes:
If the transmissibility of 2019-nCoV were similar everywhere domestically and over time, we inferred that epidemics are already growing exponentially in multiple major cities of China with a lag time behind the Wuhan outbreak of about 1–2 weeks.
While these claims may have seemed outlandish when they were published on Jan. 31, they aren’t so far-fetched now. Infection numbers are rapidly climbing to the figures estimated in the study’s model.
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Last modified: June 24, 2020 1:04 AM UTC