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article imageOp-Ed: The problems with the ‘China is lying about COVID-19’ story

By Paul Wallis     Apr 2, 2020 in World
Sydney - There is a sudden upsurge of the “China lied about the pandemic” motif. There are many urban myths about locked apartments full of corpses, etc. The trouble is the logic doesn’t hold up too well.
The news is coming from Trump speeches and a very broad range of sources in media. US intelligence states that China probably underreported the pandemic, the number of cases and deaths. Deaths, according to this report, could be in the tens of thousands.
I can’t begin to tell you how tired I am of non-epidemiologists on this subject.
For instance:
One of the theories in the report is that the outbreak actually began in November 2019. That may be the case, but it also means that the original outbreak would need to have been diagnosed as a high risk infectious disease and a control and reporting system put in place.
If that took a month, it took a month. Does anyone really believe reporting a pandemic in China would be so easy?
If official reported numbers come from December, you can assume the early numbers were much lower, not higher. Pandemic numbers become bigger as they spread, not as they begin.
The problem
As COVID-19 laps gently from coast to coast around the world, we’ve learned a few things about how it behaves outside China.
For example:
• This virus follows populations. The bigger the city, the more severe it is. China has a lot of big cities, far bigger than most countries.
• COVID-19 death rates are sometimes much higher than the Chinese figures. Does that mean it’s actually worse than reported? It might, but numbers are inconsistent.
• Lockdowns work, that much we do know. The United States was first to criticize the “brutal” lockdown in China, citing its severity. So the Chinese lockdown had no effect? Unlikely.
• …Or are they saying there was no brutal lockdown, which therefore led to many more deaths?
• All the foreigners) in China (there are always many at the time didn’t notice tens of thousands of people dying? They didn’t notice major nationwide restrictions on movement? How would they not notice? It would have been unconcealable nationwide chaos.
• The news didn’t leak out to overseas Chinese? It’d be the first time in hundreds of years that they didn’t know about things in China.
• Reporting also seems to be a problem with Russia, India, Indonesia, and perhaps the enchantingly senile, babbling United Kingdom, which hasn’t even bothered to set up a testing regime. Lying? Perhaps, and lying is very fashionable, thanks to someone.
• Reporting a pandemic can be difficult. The US own virus numbers are stressed by their various local reporting issues.
• The US took weeks to even admit it was a possible problem, after the outbreak was already obviously severe. Is that lying, or just more useless politics at work?
• It’s taken the US over a week to report 200,000 cases. In the home of the instant news and instant disinformation, who’s to say the US isn’t massaging its numbers, too?
If the Chinese ARE lying
If the Chinese are lying, this pandemic could be far worse than the world has been led to believe. The disease is now on the rampage, creating havoc. Many governments of rich Western countries are now clearly failing to manage the crisis. The world already has over 10 times the number of reported deaths in China.
It’s almost totally irrelevant whether the Chinese were lying or not, at this stage. People around the world are dying right now, not weeks ago. Are the governments of the world looking for someone to blame? Or are they trying to find an excuse for their own incompetence?
In the meantime, would non-epidemiologists kindly go back to celebrity “news" or something they do know something about? This blatant political exploitation of a global crisis is low, even for you.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about china lying about COVID19 numbers, Epidemiology and immunology COVID19, Chinaese pandemic reports, US intelligvence re China COGID19 figures
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