China Covid-19 toll could have been four times more, says new study in Lancet
China might have had more than 232000 people infected with Covid-19 by February 20, nearly four times the official figure on that date, new research by Hong Kong experts have found.
Mainland China’s national health commission (NHC) had reported 55508 cases of Covid-19 on February 20 but research by the University of Hong Kong’s School of Public Health said the actual number could have been four times if a definition of the disease used later could have been applied throughout.
Between January 15 and March 3, seven versions of Covid-19 case definition were issued by the NHC.
“If the fifth version of the case definition had been applied throughout the outbreak with sufficient testing capacity, we estimated that by Feb 20, 2020, there would have been 232 000 confirmed cases in China as opposed to the 55 508 confirmed cases reported,” the research paper, published in The Lancet earlier this week said.
The case definition was broadened from January to March, counting milder cases in the latter stage.
“The case definition was initially narrow and was gradually broadened to allow detection of more cases as knowledge increased, particularly milder cases and those without epidemiological links to Wuhan, China, or other known cases,” the researchers added.
The number of daily cases in China has dropped drastically since the peak of February, and on Thursday the NHC said no death was reported for the eighth consecutive day.
A total of 10 new confirmed Covid-19 cases were reported on the mainland the day before, six of which were imported.
As of Wednesday, the mainland had reported a total of 1,616 imported cases.
The overall confirmed cases on the mainland had reached 82,798 by Wednesday and 4,632 people had died of the disease, the NHC said.
In another development, China on Thursday said it would donate a further $30 million to the World Health Organisation (WHO), which is seeking more than $1 billion to fund its battle against the coronavirus pandemic, over and above the $20 million it had pledged earlier.
Beijing’s new promise comes days after US President Donald Trump suspended funding to the WHO, accusing the Geneva-based organisation of promoting Chinese “disinformation” about the virus.
Meanwhile, citizen journalist Li Zehua who went missing from the first outbreak epicentre Wuhan in February has reappeared, saying that he had been quarantined by security forces in the city for two weeks, and then for more days in in his home town.
Two more citizen journalists Chen Qiushi and Fang Bin are still missing.