News reports early last month read, “WHO says Coronavirus death rate is 3.4% globally, higher than previously thought”. Earlier, the WHO had estimated the death rate to be 2%, which broadly came out of what China was reporting about the Coronavirus. The WHO estimates are of course grossly misleading even in the case of China now where the official death rate according to official numbers, which are highly suspect, has reached 4 per cent.
The ‘Fatality/death rate’ here is the ratio of deaths from coronavirus to the total number of people diagnosed with this disease for a certain period of time. USA, Spain, Italy and Iran have long crossed China’s death toll amid the Coronavirus Pandemic, and the fatality rates, especially in Italy and Spain countries are significantly higher when compared to China.
The dragon has lied and attempted a coverup ever since the viral outbreak started, however, China’s figures were foolishly taken at face value by the world as nationa underestimated the threat gravely and learnt the hard way that the fatality rate associated with COVID-19 is far, far more than was believed earlier.
It is even more misleading in the case of say, Italy where the fatality rate presently stands at 11 per cent, or even the United Kingdom for that matter where the fatality rate is 8.17 per cent. And this is when Italy is said to have missed counting some of the deaths- such as those who died in elderly homes or their own houses, but could never make it to the Hospital. Thus, in the worst-case scenario the mortality rate might be even higher in Italy.
Even in Spain the death rate is just below 10 per cent, and while we are at it do remember that this is Case Fatality Ratio (CFR) that we are talking about. With a large number of patients testing positive and currently hospitalised, there is a major chunk whose outcome is not clear as of now, thus as and when the outcomes become clear the mortality rate might shoot up even further.
Similarly, in France the number of deaths to the number of positive cases currently stands at over 9 per cent. Meanwhile, in other countries like the United States, the case to fatality ratio is somewhat low at 2.9 per cent, but when there are more than 3,67,000 confirmed cases, along with 8,879 cases classified as “serious, critical”, the end numbers can turn out to be far more disturbing, especially when 1.7 million deaths are predicted in the worst-case scenario.
The present picture is quite bleak compared to the kind of information that had come out from China initially- the virus having a 2 per cent or less fatality rate and that it kills only those above the age of 65 years. In collusion with WHO, Beijing was able to perpetuate these myths.
What also led to the world falling for a highly conservative measure of the severity of Pandemic is the significant lag associated with COVID-19. It is now well known that incubation periods are long and symptoms slow to show up, which delays the actual outcome (death or recovery). Then there is also a lag of three to nine days between contagion and hospitalisation.
Finally, there is a lag of over ten days between hospitalisation and actual recovery or death. With the number of cases flooding in initially and the Case Fatality Ratio (CFR) being passed off as mortality rate, the world made a gross underestimation of how fatal the Wuhan infection could be- something that certain studies including one by The Lancet had pointed out early in the month of February itself, which now seems to be getting vindicated.
In fact, the Chinese cover-up in terms of number of deaths is becoming increasingly clear now with reports of China ordering 2,20,000 body bags in contrast with the official statistics of only 3,300 deaths. Similarly, the reports of 40,000 urns getting distributed in the country show how highly downplayed Beijing’s numbers could be.
Equally shocking are the reports of 8.1 million SIM cards getting deactivated in China in the months of January and February- when the Coronavirus Pandemic was at its peak in the country. This is how big and severe the Chinese virus could be amidst allegations of Beijing underreporting its numbers.
Iran, another country which has been hit badly by the Coronavirus has also cast a shadow of doubt over the Chinese numbers. In fact, Health Ministry official Kianoush Jahanpour described the Chinese numbers as a “bitter joke”, and according to him, many countries around the world thought the disease caused by COVID-19 was similar to influenza and had a low fatality rate.
The Iranian official, himself a doctor, said, “Based on the epidemiological information and reports provided by Chinese researchers, all academic centres in the world considered the novel coronavirus to be less dangerous than at least type-A influenza. Today’s findings prove it wrong. And we trust our own findings more.”
It is clear that off late, Chinese propaganda has clicked really well. The Chinese State media- People’s Daily and the Global Times which are the only sources of any information about the country were trying to bury things under the carpet right from the word go. The world came to know only what China wanted it to know.
The opacity of the Communist regime in China, lack of media freedom and global journalists toeing Beijing’s line misled the world into believing that the Coronavirus is not as fatal, and some parts of the world even mistook it for an influenza when it was in fact something far more deadly.
The vested interests around the world- the research institutions and the big media houses also allowed Beijing to downplay the threat posed by the virus that originated in its wet markets. This has now come to haunt the entire world.
China has a massive propaganda machinery that it also uses to push the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) projects, and the same machinery came to its use during the PR exercise amidst the Coronavirus outbreak. Fault lines across the world got exposed, for example, in the United States the Democrats see Russia as a bigger threat and don’t realise the threat that China poses. These fault lines never really allowed Beijing to get called out and now the entire world is paying its price.