“We believe that the current numbers being published from China under-represent the true impact of the disease in terms of hospital admissions, in terms of ICU admissions, particularly in terms of death,” Mike Ryan, the WHO’s emergencies director, told reporters at a media briefing on Jan. 4.
“And we would like to see more data on a more geographic basis across China.”
In late December, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) narrowed its definition for classifying deaths as attributable to COVID-19 by counting only those involving pneumonia or respiratory failure sparked by COVID-19, surprising some world health experts.
The CCP has been reporting daily COVID-19 deaths in single-digit figures.
“We still do not have complete data,” Ryan said.
Patients on stretchers are seen at Tongren hospital in Shanghai on Jan. 3, 2023. (Hector Retamal/AFP via Getty Images)
Ryan said that the WHO deems the Chinese regime’s definition for deaths attributable to COVID-19 as “very narrow.” He urged for a broader definition to get a fuller picture of the impact from COVID-19 in China.
The WHO’s guidance (pdf) stipulates that deaths should be attributed to COVID-19 if they result from a “clinically compatible illness, in a probable or confirmed COVID-19 case, unless there is a clear alternative cause of death that cannot be related to COVID disease (e.g. trauma).”
The guidance also states that deaths from COVID-19 “may not be attributed to another disease” such as cancer, and should be counted as a COVID-19 death, even if there is a suspicion that a preexisting medical condition may have triggered a severe course of COVID-19.
UK Firm Estimates Death Toll in China Far Higher
In a drastically different picture to that provided by the CCP, UK-based health data firm Airfinity on Dec. 29, 2022, estimated that about 9,000 people died from COVID-19 in China each day in December 2022, and that the deaths may peak at 25,000 a day in January.
Leaked minutes from a meeting of China’s top health body confirmed by multiple news outlets suggested that as many as 248 million people became infected within the first 20 days of December, and that the virus has infected over half of the residents in Beijing and Sichuan Province.
Despite news suggesting COVID-19 cases and related deaths have increased in China, the CCP announced in late December that it will reopen its borders on Jan. 8.
Earlier in December, the CCP abruptly reversed its draconian so-called zero-COVID policy that had been in effect for nearly three years, amid widespread protests against the communist regime.
Following the sudden shift in policy, COVID-19 cases have been increasing throughout the country of 1.4 billion people.
Chinese Scientists Shared Data Claiming No New Variant: WHO
On Jan. 3, the WHO’s Technical Advisory Group on Virus Evolution (TAG-VE) and China’s top scientists held a closed meeting. Scientists from the China Center for Disease Control presented data that showed dominant strains currently circulating are the Omicron subvariants BA.5.2 and BF.7, which together account for 97.5 percent of all local infections, the WHO stated.
“No new variant or mutation of known significance is noted in the publicly available sequence data,” the WHO advisory group also noted of the data they received from Chinese scientists.