TAIPEI, Taiwan ( Associated Press) – As COVID-19 spreads in China, other countries and the World Health Organization (WHO) are asking their governments to share more comprehensive data on the outbreak. Some also claim that many of the figures given in it are nonsense.
Without basic data such as the number of deaths, infections and severe cases, governments in other countries have instituted virus testing requirements for travelers from China. Beijing argues that the measures are not based on science and threatens to implement retaliatory measures.
What is of most concern is whether new variants of the virus spreading widely in China will emerge and whether it will reach other countries. The delta and omicron variants evolved in sites where significant outbreaks have also occurred, which may be breeding grounds for new variants.
A look at China’s COVID-19 data:
What does China share and what does not?
Chinese health authorities publish daily counts of new cases, severe cases and deaths, but these numbers include only officially confirmed cases and rely on a very narrow definition of COVID-related deaths.
China is conducting its own sample studies but not sharing them, says Ray Yip, who founded the China office of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. English).
Thursday’s nationwide tally was 9,548 new cases and five deaths, but some city governments are making estimates too high for their jurisdictions. Officials in the province of Zhejiang, located on the east coast, said on Tuesday that about one million new cases are being reported there daily.
If a variant emerges in an outbreak, it is found through genetic sequencing of the virus.
Since the start of the pandemic, China has shared 4,144 sequences through GISAID, a global platform for coronavirus data. This represents only 0.04% of the number of reported cases: a rate 100 times lower than in the United States and almost four times lower than in neighboring Mongolia.
What is known and what can be determined?
So far no new variant has appeared in the sequence shared by China. According to GISAID, accounts promoting the contagion in China “look very similar” to those seen in other parts of the world since July. Dr. Gagandeep Kang, who has studied the virus at the Vellore Christian Medical College in India, agreed, saying there is nothing particularly concerning in the data so far.
That hasn’t stopped at least 10 countries — Australia, Canada, France, India, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States — from announcing virus testing requirements for travelers arriving from China. The EU broadly urged all its member states to do the same this week.
Health officials have defended the tests as a surveillance measure that helps fill China’s information gap. This means countries can read about any changes in the virus through testing, even if they do not have China’s complete data.
Canada and Belgium announced that they would look for viral particles in the wastewater of planes arriving from China.
Is China Sharing Enough Information?
Chinese officials have repeatedly said that they are sharing information through sequences given to GISAID and through meetings with the WHO, but several times now, WHO officials have discussed not only the genetic sequencing but also the More data is requested. on hospitalizations, admissions to intensive care units, and deaths. This week, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the WHO, said he was concerned about the risks in China.
“The data is essential for WHO to conduct regular, rapid and robust risk assessments of the global situation,” said the head of the UN health agency.
The Associated Press receives support for its health and science coverage from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. Associated Press is solely responsible for all content.