China's Narrow Definition for Covid Deaths Lowers Assumed Toll

Anne Spollen
As China's Covid cases surge, numbers are questionedPhoto byNational Cancer InstituteonUnsplash

As Covid pandemic restrictions are lifted, China is experiencing a new wave of the virus. What the numbers are when it comes to Covid fatalities are most likely skewed as Chinese health officials have narrowly defined how Covid deaths are tallied.

According to Wang Guiqiang, the head of infectious disease at Peking University's No. 1 Hospital, deaths from Covid can only be counted as such if the person passes away from respiratory failure or pneumonia. If the patient has an underlying condition, or any type of pre-existing illness, and is diagnosed with Covid, that death is not counted as a Covid fatality.

China has a history of conservatively counting illness. In the United States and many other countries, guidelines state that any death where Covid is a factor must be counted as a Covid death. On December 20, 2022 no new Covid deaths were reported by China. Inexplicably, one death was subtracted from the previously reported count of 5241. No explanation for the decrease was offered.

An Associated Press investigation found that numbers have been blurred by how health authorities total statistics. The narrow parameters are often not transparent and sometimes change. These factors result in China showing a much lower Covid death total than that of many other nations.

Increased infections and deaths in China have been occurring since the government relaxed Covid restrictions. A funeral worker who did not give his name attested that the city's crematorium was incinerating 20 to 30 bodies per day. Prior to the lifting of the pandemic restrictions, they incinerated 3 to 4 bodies per day.

The creator of China's zero-Covid policy,Dr. Liang Wannian, recently stated, "The rate of severe cases and deaths compared with the original virus and delta has clearly dropped. The virus is much more mild now."

In order to make a comprehensive risk assessment of the situation on the ground, WHO needs more detailed information on disease severity, hospital admissions and requirements for ICU support." Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organization at a Geneva news briefing.

This is not the first time the Chinese government has been thought to issue disinformation around disease and statistics. An expose in February of 2021, revealed that China held a "leading role" in the creation of conspiracy theories and misinformation regarding the Covid-19 virus.

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New York City writer interested in urban concerns, lifestyle topics, human interest, all areas of wellness, and social issues. Published novelist and essayist.

Staten Island, NY

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