This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
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The coronavirus rages on in China and is quickly spreading throughout the world. The Chinese government would have us believe that they have things under control. Additionally, much of the current medical data that the CDC and WHO use to formulate a plan to combat the coronavirus comes solely from the Chinese government. The real question that many throughout the medical and scientific community are asking is: should we believe their numbers? History says no.
The Chinese government has a penchant for lying.
A communist regime the likes of the Chinese government is built on perception more than reality. The Chinese elite must keep the perception that they are in control at whatever cost. Over the decades, the Chinese have fudged their internal numbers on a vast array of topics to make their control look more favorable. Population numbers, GDP, Muslim concentration camps, and even air pollution have been misrepresented by Chinese leadership simply to portray their control in a more favorable light. Remember, in a communist society, everything is the government and the government is everything. If any area is failing, every area is failing.
Can we believe the Chinese government about coronavirus?
The short answer is probably not. The Chinese government is keeping a very tight lip on the actual numbers regarding infected citizens, deaths, and the R-naught (reproductive number) in regards to the coronavirus. Reports have been released today stating that the Chinese government rejected offers from the CDC to help them contain the outbreak.
China’s reluctance to receive aid from outside resources (CDC, WHO, and others) puts, at the very least, doubt in the minds of many. Most point to the statements made by China in comparison to their actions. China (for the most part) downplayed the severity of the outbreak in multiple public statements last week. At the same time, they were quarantining upwards of 50 MILLION people in unprecedented whole-city quarantines.
Let me give my fellow American readers some context. Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, was completely quarantined off. Wuhan is a city of 11 million people. If we were going to quarantine American equivalents (by population), it would compare to quarantining New York City (8.5 million) and Chicago (2.7 million) at the same time. No small undertaking, but that is just one city under quarantine in China at the moment. It seems that the actions of the Chinese government tell a different story from their press releases.
Why does the Chinese data matter?
Wuhan, China is ground zero for this new strain of coronavirus. The majority of those infected and dying are within China’s borders. The early data on outbreaks of this sort is some of the most critical because it sets the basis and precedent of how to best fight the outbreak (vaccines, quarantines, best practices, etc.). What worries many in the medical/scientific community is that we may be losing critical time to get this pandemic under control.
Time will tell whether the data out of China can be trusted. Over the coming days/weeks, the coronavirus will continue to spread if things don’t change drastically. As it does, independent organizations like the CDC and WHO, in addition to national governments, will be able to conduct their own tests and gather their own data. My hope is that the data will be consistent with what China has been reporting, but I, like many, don’t believe that will be the case. This will lead to countless lives lost for no reason. There is no time to waste.