China has taken a combative approach towards lawsuits. It has rejected any and all demands for reparations. On the question of numbers, Beijing says it has been transparent.
However, the repeated statements have not settled the debate. China has reported more than 80,000 coronavirus cases with over 4,000 deaths. Far less than the other hotspots.
For some experts that doesn’t add up and now, a new study published in The Lancet has stirred up the debate.
It claims China has more than two lakh cases in the mainland which is four times more than the official numbers. Researchers from Hong Kong have put together these estimates.
How did they come up with that number? Is China hiding 75 per cent of its cases?
The researchers revisited the first wave of cases. They say that initially the diagnostic criteria was very narrow. It was revisited several times between the January 15 and March 15.
China kept changing its testing criteria. The study analyses numbers upto February 20. The same data, that was given to the WHO. They found that with each change of the diagnostic criteria, the cases rose until February, there were as many as five such revisions.
If last criteria is applied throughout the outbreak, then there would be 2,30,000 cases. At that time, China had reported just a little more than 55,000 cases.
China hasn’t allowed any independent verification of the numbers. Just last week, China had revised the numbers for Wuhan increasing the death toll by 50 per cent.
The revision only led to more doubts and more questions. So far, the claims over China’s real coronavirus numbers have been based on hearsay, speculation and circumstantial evidence.
The Tencent data glitch is a case in point. The Chinese tech giant had published the data on its website at the beginning of February with over 24,000 deaths and over one lakh cases but Tencent later said it was a glitch.
Thermal images of Wuhan allegedly recorded mass burials in Wuhan suggesting a much higher death toll.