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Reality Check of US Allegations Against China on COVID-19 (XI)

11. Allegation: China is not transparent in data releasing. Its official numbers of confirmed cases and fatalities are too low to be true, and the real figures are at least 50 times more.

Reality Check: China has been fully open and transparent about its COVID-19 data. The figures can well stand the test of history.


◆As of 21 January, China's National Health Commission (NHC) started to update the public on a daily basis on the COVID-19 situation of the previous day on its official website and through its social media accounts. Starting from 27 January, the State Council inter-agency task force on COVID-19 has been holding daily press briefings to release key information and respond to questions from domestic and foreign media. More than 3,000 press conferences have been held at national and sub-national levels. Government officials, medical workers, experts and recovered patients engaged the media face-to-face without dodging any questions.


◆These COVID-19 data are an important basis for China's decision to pursue all-round reopening of the economy with necessary containment measures in place and to restore the normal economic and social order. One case in point is the lifting of the 76-day lockdown of Wuhan after a continuous drop in infections.

◆China's relatively low number of confirmed cases and fatalities was attributable to the most comprehensive, rigorous and thorough measures taken promptly by the Chinese government, such as completely shutting down the transportation out of Wuhan. The Science magazine estimated in one of its reports that these measures helped prevent at least 700,000 infections in China.

◆ The Chinese government always puts people first. In its fight against COVID-19, saving lives is the government's number-one priority. China has expanded hospital admission and treatment to cover all those in need to cure and save as many patients as possible. All suspected cases and close contacts have been placed under quarantine at designated places to cut off the chain of transmission and stem the further spread of the virus. That is why China's nationwide infection rate has stayed relatively low. In Hubei Province alone, over 3,600 patients aged 80 and above have been cured, including seven centenarians.

◆On the evening of 22 January, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus noted in Geneva that China's "cooperation and transparency is very, very commendable". In an interview with US media in March, Dr. Bruce Aylward, Team Leader of the WHO-China Joint Mission on COVID-19, responded to questions about China's official data by saying that he "didn't see anything that suggested manipulation of numbers".

◆On 3 March, Dr. Bruce Aylward, a senior advisor to the WHO Director-General, noted in an interview with US media VOX that China is not hiding anything. And the data he collected through talks with physicians from various hospitals and other stakeholders could help corroborate China's data.


◆On 28 April, Christoffer Koch and Ken Okamura, two economists from the US and the UK, jointly published a paper based on studies of the data from China, Italy and the US. They found that the confirmed infections in China match the distribution expected in Benford's Law and are similar to those in the US and Italy. They thus concluded that there is no possibility of manipulation of figures.

◆On 29 April, Yale Professor Nicholas A Christakis, co-author of the Nature magazine paper entitled Population Flow Drives Spatio-temporal Distribution of COVID-19 in China, tweeted that "Incidentally, this result sheds light on accuracy of Chinese COVID-19 reporting, because a totally different source of info (telco mobility) obtained from different source predicts case counts so well, in keeping with epidemiological expectations."


◆On 5 May, Dr. Gauden Galea, WHO representative in China, said that "The WHO has been in constant technical communication with China since January 3 on the severity, transmission dynamics and the possibility of sustained human-to-human transmission, the clinical course, and effectiveness of treatments, and the WHO has provided detailed information to the international community under the framework of the International Health Regulations (IHR)."



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