China is asshoe…
Why China’s official data on the coronavirus and its death numbers cannot be trusted.
If we are to believe China’s figures, the number of Covid-19 coronavirus cases in China as of March 31 was 82,240, with 3,309 deaths. The United States has now just under 165,000 cases and has surpassed 3000 deaths attributed to the virus – about double the official number of China’s cases and fast approaching China’s official death total. China claims that it has largely defeated the coronavirus and is opening public transportation, schools, and factories. The Chinese Communist Party has promoted itself as the global role model for how to lead a “people’s war” against COVID-19 and save many lives. “Party officials have tried to spin the crisis as a testament to the strength of China’s authoritarian system and its hard-line leader, Xi Jinping,” the New York Times reported, “even announcing plans to publish a book in six languages about the outbreak that portrays him as a ‘major power leader’ with ‘care for the people.’”
China’s officially reported case and death totals to date just happen to be remarkably close to a prediction last February by Stanford University biology professor Michael Levitt. Dr. Levitt, who won the 2013 Nobel Prize in chemistry, predicted that China would peak with around 80,000 cases and 3,250 deaths. Dr. Levitt has spent a couple of months a year in China. “I became much more interested in China, and seeing the country through the eyes of somebody who has lived there made it very different,” he said. Dr. Levitt was appalled by the travel restrictions imposed by the United States. “It’s crazy,” he said, as quoted by China Daily. “Travel bans don’t help at all. I think all this punishment just leads to under-reporting, and it’s not a good idea.” Although he is not an epidemiologist, the Chinese government featured him with appearances on the Chinese State broadcaster China Global Television Network.
Dr. Levitt is now claiming that the growth of new cases worldwide should slow much faster than many health experts predict, just as he claims happened in China. We hope Dr. Levitt is right but have good reason to be skeptical regarding the validity of China’s official data. Dr. Levitt’s predictions more likely were used by Chinese authorities to lend credibility to the range of numbers that China is willing to report as the peak, rather than constituting validated forecasts of what actually happened.
For example, while the official death toll in Wuhan was around 2,500 people as of March 27, Radio Free Asia reported serious doubts among residents that the true number was that low. “Since the start of the week, seven large funeral homes in Wuhan have been handing out the cremated remains of around 500 people to their families every day,” according to Radio Free China, “suggesting that far more people died than ever made the official statistics.” One Wuhan resident was quoted as saying, “It can’t be right … because the incinerators have been working round the clock, so how can so few people have died?” The true death toll could be as many as 40,000.