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Coronavirus cases in Wuhan may be far higher than thought, according to China CDC study


#More than 4 per cent of 11 million residents in #Wuhan — where COVID-19 was first detected — may have been infected with the virus, a new study by #China’s top disease control agency shows.

The #Chinese #Centre of #Disease #Control and #Prevention (CDC) published the results of a serological study of some 34,000 residents from #Wuhan and other #Chinese cities on its #WeChat account earlier this week.

The post said the study was conducted one month after #China successfully controlled the epidemic earlier this year, but did not specify which month.

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The CDC said it found about 4.43 per cent of survey participants from #Wuhan had COVID-19 antibodies in their blood.

#Several mainstream international media outlets including the BBC and #New #York #Times calculated that based on #Wuhan’s population of 11.2 million people, nearly 500,000 people may have contracted COVID-19.

#This figure would be 10 times the official count of 50,000 confirmed cases reported by the #Wuhan #Municipal #Health #Commission, not including asymptomatic cases.

The new findings come as an international team of experts will travel to #Wuhan next week to commence a six-month #World #Health #Organization (WHO)-led probe into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.

#Discrepancy in numbers ‘likely evidence of what did happen’

#Officials routinely deployed vehicles spraying disinfectant across #Wuhan during the city’s outbreak.(#Reuters via #China #Daily)

#Terry #Nolan, who is the #Doherty #Institute’s head of vaccine and immunisation research group in #Melbourne, told the ABC this discrepancy was to be expected, as those counting cases during the early stages of #Wuhan’s epidemic would have missed a lot of cases.

“#In #Wuhan in the beginning, no-one knew how [the virus] was behaving,” #Dr #Nolan said.

multiple cranes work dig dirt on a large vacant lot with trees and buildings behind
#Wuhan authorities rapidly built COVID-19 hospitals to cater to rapidly rising patient demand.(#Reuters: #China #News #Service)

#He said the 4.43 per cent antibody rate among those sampled in #Wuhan was “where you’d expect it to be”, given that retrospective serological surveys often pick up antibodies in young people, who were less likely to have exhibited any symptoms during the initial outbreak.

#To date, the CDC has not released the technical data from the study, which would show how the virus moved through different demographic groups, such as age, gender, or occupation.

#Dr #Nolan said it was also critical for people not to “jump to conclusions” about the numeric discrepancy signalling some greater conspiracy.

“The fundamental thing that underlies the suspicion [of China] is that the numbers are being manipulated for some greater political purpose. #That’s something I’m very sceptical about,” #Dr #Nolan said.

#When censorship and science collide

A person wearing a white biohazard suit leans on a window of a high-rise building.
#Medical staff were punished for speaking out about the virus during the early stages of the epidemic in #Wuhan.(#Reuters)

The CDC’s findings were first released on its official #WeChat account earlier this week, though coverage of the report by state-owned media has been sparse.

#While there is a report on #Xinhua, another article on the findings on state-owned #China #Internet #Information #Centre — which also suggested that #Wuhan could have recorded around 500,000 cases — was taken down last night.

#No other state-owned #Chinese media has since reported the near-500,000 projection.

#However, the ABC has identified some 160 posts discussing the report on #Chinese social media platform #Weibo.

#He #Jing, a prominent science editor in #Shanghai, suggested on #Weibo that the CDC’s report explained “why hospitals were overwhelmed” at the height of #Wuhan’s outbreak.

#It is unclear if there have been #Government-led attempts to censor, or downplay the findings of the CDC report in local media.

#However, #China’s censorship in general has led to criticism of #Beijing’s handling of the pandemic in its early stages.

“I’m not naive about the way in which #China operates as a country, but equally there are very fine #Chinese scientists and epidemiologists, many of whom trained in #Australia, and celebrate what we do internationally,” #Dr #Nolan said.

A masked patient is transferred on a stretcher by masked medical staff wearing blue overalls.
COVID-19 rapidly spread throughout #China in early 2020.(#Reuters)

#At the height of #Wuhan’s epidemic in #February, #Matthew #Kavanagh, a specialist in global health and political science at #Washington’s #Georgetown #University, wrote in The #Lancet that #Beijing’s top-down control of information hindered its capacity to get on top of the virus when it first emerged.

“#Healthcare workers suspected an outbreak in early #December, 2019, but information with which the public might have taken preventive measures was suppressed, and communication channels that might have alerted senior officials to the growing threat were shut down,” #Dr #Kavanagh wrote.

“#Police detained a clinician and seven other people posting reports on 2019-nCoV, threatening punishment for spreading so-called ‘rumours’.

“#Social media was censored; a preliminary analysis of #Weibo and #WeChat published on #China’s biggest online platform showed outbreak discussions were nearly non-existent through much of #January, 2020, until the #Chinese #Government changed its official stance on #Jan 20, 2020.”

#While #China appears to have COVID-19 numbers under control, it has continued to punish those who first blew the whistle about the virus, including a citizen-journalist who first reported on the #Wuhan outbreak and was handed a four-year jail term this week.



[ source link ]
https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-12-31/coronavirus-covid-19-china-wuhan-cdc-serological-study-on-cases/13023414

##Coronavirus #cases ##Wuhan #higher #thought ##China #CDC #study

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