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Infection Count: China’s Infection Number Would Have Been 230,000 by February 20 If It Had Used a More Realistic Infection Definition

A Research Team from Hong Kong University published a thesis in The Lancet Journal, pointing out, “If China had adopted the fifth version of its coronavirus infection definition from the beginning of the outbreak and had sufficient detection capabilities, we estimate that by February 20, China would have reported 232,000 infection cases, rather than the 55,008 it officially announced.”

The thesis also stated that “considering that some infections, especially those mild or asymptomatic infections, can still remain undetected under the most lenient definition, the actual infection count is likely be higher than the estimated number.”

From January 15 to March 3, China issued seven versions of the “Novel Coronavirus Pneumonia Treatment Plan,” which covered the case definition, clinical characteristics, and diagnosis. The first version, the most rigid definition, required that the patient must have an epidemiological link to the South China Seafood Market and must have four types of symptoms. The fourth revision started allowing the patients to have an epidemiological link to other regions that had confirmed infection cases, not limited to Wuhan. The fifth revision allowed the doctor to use a clinical diagnosis to decide if the patient was infected.

Their research concluded that the loosening of rigid requirements had a “substantial impact” on the infection count. The infection count increased 7.1 times after switching from the version 1 definition to version 2 and 4.2 times after switching from version 4 to version 5.

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Excerpt in Chinese:

香港大学研究团队本周在权威医学杂志《柳叶刀》(The Lancet)发表的论文中指出:“如果第五版病例定义在整个疫情期间得到应用,并且有足够的检测能力,我们估计截至2月20日,中国的确诊病例应为23万2千,而不是中国官方公布的55,008例。”





Source: VOA, April 23, 2020