Data leak raises doubts about the number of Covid-19 cases in China

Doctors at Hubei Hospital view CT scan of patients infected with corona virus. Photo: Getty.
Doctors at Hubei Hospital view CT scan of patients infected with corona virus. Photo: Getty.

Data leaked from China’s National Defense Technology University raises suspicions that the actual number of corona virus infections in China may be higher than the official report.

On May 13, Foreign Policy magazine and an organization said they received data leaked at the National Defense Technology University, under China’s Central Military Commission.

Updated data on corona virus cases and deaths in more than 230 Chinese cities. Sources of the two media organizations asked to remain anonymous because of the sensitivity of sharing military data. Data is not yet public. The two media organizations are seeking to share privately with the research community.

According to the article, this is the largest document ever published about the number of corona virus infections in China.

The information in the leak data package coincides with a corona virus data monitoring tool also published by China National University of National Defense Technology. The university’s caption about the data tracking tool said it obtained information from China’s Ministry of Health, the National Health Commission, the media and other public sources.

An anonymous source said the leaked data was also taken from the university. However, the leaked map is larger than this school’s official surveillance map. The difference raises doubts about the actual number of cases compared to what is officially announced by China.

While it does not guarantee comprehensive representation of the disease situation, the leaked data is very large in scale. The data pack contains over 640,000 lines of updated information on the number of cases in specific locations.

Each updated line shows the “confirmed” longitude, latitude and number of cases at the location mentioned. Data collection time lasts from early February to the end of April.

For places in and around the focus of the outbreak in Wuhan, in Hubei province, the leaked data packet also shows the number of deaths and the number of “recovered” people. The data does not clearly show how the authors’ group gathered information to determine whether it was “confirmed” or “recovered”.

Foreign Policy and 100Reporters note that China has repeatedly revised the calculation of the number of Covid-19 cases and deaths nationwide. Outbreaks in China before the completion of large-scale testing measures. Typically, there was a spike in the number of cases in Hubei in mid-February, after health authorities included patients diagnosed with CT scans.

In addition to the update locations described as hospitals, the leaked data also included a number of locations whose names coincided with a number of apartments, hotels, supermarkets, train stations, restaurants and schools. studied throughout China.

According to the official Chinese government report, the number of confirmed corona virus cases in mainland China was 82,919, as of May 13. The total number of deaths is 4,633.

Many countries have recently called for an independent investigation of the Covid-19 epidemic in China because of concerns about transparency and limited access to data stores.

China also faces many accusations from the US about hiding the source of the disease. There has been skepticism among researchers in the reliability of data provided by China. Typically, the total number of deaths in Wuhan increased by nearly 50% in mid-April, from 2,579 to 3,869.