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Perhaps the Chinese government is not covering up the number of Covid-19 cases?

A big debate on the internet is whether China is covering up the number of cases of Covid-19 in Hubei, and more specifically Wuhan. Right now JHU says that China has 82,000 confirmed cases, as opposed to 300,000 in the USA. Both are underestimates, but there are those who believe that the Chinese death toll is not 3,000, but in the millions! I think a more sober take is that they could be underreporting by an order of magnitude. That being said, many epidemiologists believe that China’s numbers are roughly correct. And certainly, some demographic patterns to be robust and holding up (e.g., the proportion of the aged that die).

But there’s another way to estimate how many people were infected: look at the variation in the genome sequences of SARS-coV-2 itself. The genetic variation patterns in viruses that underwent massive rapid demographic expansion will be different from those that are subject to constant population size.

From what I can see Trevor Bedford and his group at UW have done the best and most thorough estimate of the number infected from the SARS-coV-2 genomes, Phylodynamic estimation of incidence and prevalence of novel coronavirus (nCoV) infections through time.

Here is a part of the abstract and methods:

Here, we use a phylodynamic approach incorporating 53 publicly available novel coronavirus (nCoV) genomes to the estimate underlying incidence and prevalence of the epidemic. This approach uses estimates of the rate of coalescence through time to infer underlying viral population size and then uses assumptions of serial interval and heterogeneity of transmission to provide estimates of incidence and prevalence. We estimate an exponential doubling time of 7.2 (95% CI 5.0-12.9) days. We arrive at a median estimate of the total cumulative number of worldwide infections as of Feb 8, 2020, of 55,800 with a 95% uncertainty interval of 17,500 to 194,400. Importantly, this approach uses genome data from local and international cases and does not rely on case reporting within China.

…. We began by running the Nextstrain nCov pipeline to align sequences and mask spurious SNPs. We took the output file masked.fasta as the starting point for this analysis. We loaded this alignment into BEAST and specified an evolutionary model to estimate:

* strict molecular clock (CTMC rate reference prior)
* exponential growth rate (Laplace prior with scale 100)
* effective population size at time of most recent sampled tip (uniform prior between 0 and 10)

We followed Andrew in using a gamma distributed HKY nucleotide substitution model. MCMC was run for 50M steps, discarding the first 10M as burnin and sampling every 30,000 steps after this to give a dataset of 1335 MCMC samples.

The file ncov.xml contains the entire BEAST model specification. To run it will require filling in sequence data; we are not allowed to reshare this data according to GISAID Terms and Conditions. The Mathematica notebook ncov-phylodynamics.nb contains code to analyze resulting BEAST output in ncov.log and plot figures.

It’s been many years since I used BEAST but it’s a complicated piece of software and has a lot of options and parameters. I’m very curious about how robust the estimate is when considering sentences such as “assume that variance of secondary cases is at most like SARS with superspreading dynamics with k=0.15.” Bedford and his colleagues know 1,000 times more about this than I do, but I am really curious about other groups looking at the data and running their models.

If all of the results are in the range of the order of magnitude of above, I think some of us really have to update our priors about how much misreporting the Chinese are engaging in…

Update: Lots of sequences here. I may try to brush up on my BEAST skills…

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28 thoughts on “Perhaps the Chinese government is not covering up the number of Covid-19 cases?

  1. “A big debate on the internet is whether China is covering up the number of cases of Covid-19 in Hubei, and more specifically Wuhan. Right now JHU says that China has 82,000 confirmed cases, as opposed to 300,000 in the USA. Both are underestimates, but there are those who believe that the Chinese death toll is not 3,000, but in the millions! I think a more sober take is that they could be underreporting by an order of magnitude. That being said, many epidemiologists believe that China’s numbers are roughly correct. And certainly, some demographic patterns to be robust and holding up (e.g., the proportion of the aged that die).”

    Thanks for raising these questions. Is there anything in your post that suggests an answer to any of them?

  2. The following is reported FWIW:

    “China Concealed Extent of Virus Outbreak, U.S. Intelligence Says” By Nick Wadhams and Jennifer Jacobs on April 1, 2020
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-04-01/china-concealed-extent-of-virus-outbreak-u-s-intelligence-says

    “China has concealed the extent of the coronavirus outbreak in its country, under-reporting both total cases and deaths it’s suffered from the disease, the U.S. intelligence community concluded in a classified report to the White House, according to three U.S. officials.

    “The officials asked not to be identified because the report is secret, and they declined to detail its contents. But the thrust, they said, is that China’s public reporting on cases and deaths is intentionally incomplete. Two of the officials said the report concludes that China’s numbers are fake.”

  3. Trevor Bedford has been out front and nailed down a number of important issues with this virus. His estimates are gold standard benchmark.

    The Wuhan clinical data regarding presentation, clinical progression etc has been on point. Clinically very little has been hidden since mid January. Only major difference has been coinfection with influenza has been higher but that could be local conditions. The reporting on suppression protocols was all accurate.

    Maybe they under reported total numbers. Should not have made any difference in preparation.

  4. Travis Bedford seems to be one of the best out there, but his sample size is small and ascertainment is not random, and so I am suspicious of strong conclusions drawn from the data.

    Your excerpt does raise an issue that so far has seemingly not made it into the popular consciousness: the dispersion factor k (i.e., “superspreading dynamics”), which describes the amount of variance around Ro that is observed across individual cases (Lloyd-Smith et al. Nature, 2005).

    I have seen estimates that suggest a lot of superspreading (e.g., Hébert-Dufresne et al., medRxiv, 2020.02.10.20021725) and those suggesting very little (e.g., Zhao et al., medRxiv, 2020.02.26.20028449). To me, the early data from Singapore, which is arguably the most comprehensive sampling for a given time frame, is strongly suggestive of clustered superspreading events (Tariq et al., medRxiv, 2020.02.21.20026435).

    If the dispersion is heterogeneous and marked by clustered superspreading, then restrictions of large gatherings may provide most of the reduction of spread, with only marginal further gains provided by general lockdown/shutdown (St-Onge et al., 2020, arXiv:2003.05924). By contrast, if there is relatively little inter-individual variability in Ro, a general lockdown may be unavoidable.

    And, returning to the original point, my intuition is that strong superspreading would tend to bias the results of Bedford’s analysis, notwithstanding his disclaimer to the contrary.

  5. I want to add that the Chinese used up their credibility at the beginning of this episode. I have no idea why we should think they have suddenly become transparent and truthful.

    I am not a biologist so I do not know if the following is possible. But here goes.

    The history of vaccination and the coinage of the word began with the English physician Edward Jenner, who at the end of the eighteenth century observed that milkmaids who often became infected with the disease called cowpox, did not thereafter contract the more contagious and virulent disease smallpox. He took pus from a lesion on a milkmaid and inoculated an 8 year old boy with it. After the boy recovered from the cowpox thus engendered, Jenner was unable to infect the boy with smallpox.

    Small pox vaccination was based on a virus called vaccinia. It is closely related to the smallpox virus variola, but is different enough to be considered a separate species.

    Now suppose that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, has the same cross immunity relationship with another virus which we will call SARS-CoV-X, that variola has with vaccinia. Let us further suppose that the disease caused by SARS-CoV-X is a) zoonotic and is not transmitted between humans, b) produces a very mild upper respiratory infection, and c) is very common on farms in rural China. Might that then result in the strange pattern we see in the Chinese data.

    Sure. maybe. But if I have to bet on this one, I am betting with the fictional Dr. Gregory House: “It’s a basic truth of the human condition, that everybody lies.” The Chinese are no different and no better than we are. They lie, and they lie a lot.

  6. I don’t really care about February 8 for China possibly lying about their numbers, as they were still reporting increases then.

    I’m convinced they’re lying their asses off about what’s happened after basically a week later

  7. A few points: On December 31, Chinese health authorities notified the WHO of 41 cases of a mysterious pneumonia of unusual severity in Wuhan, clustered around a particular ‘seafood’ market. On January 11, Chinese scientists published the complete genome sequence of the virus on open platforms. On January 24, Chinese doctors and scientists reported the first description of the new disease in The Lancet. They urged world governments to carefully monitor this new threat because of its pandemic potential. They strongly recommended the provision of personal protective gear for health workers and testing for the virus to be done immediately on suspected cases. They warned that the mortality rate would be high. On January 23 when Wuhan was completely locked down, many people in the west screamed about infringement of human rights. Days later when the whole of Hubei was locked down, the screaming got louder. By the end of January, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress had passed a law prohibiting the trade in and consumption of wild animals as food, with immediate effect. The Guangdong Provincial Government supplemented that by also prohibiting the sale and consumption of domestic cats and dogs as food. [People should have read the total lock down of Wuhan for what it was. As Chinese cities go, Wuhan is nothing special, but its significance is that it is central, and is a major transport interchange for China’s high speed rail network, which is now by far the world’s most extensive, and it is also a domestic air travel hub. Locking it down was hugely damaging to the Chinese economy, and not something the Chinese central government would have ordered lightly, to put it mildly, and it should have been read in that context – they were responding to a massive national threat, and Xi Jinping had announced that fighting the disease was the country’s highest priority. What more blunt warning did the rest of the world need?]

    “the Chinese used up their credibility at the beginning of this episode” – Walter, what you are missing is you seem to assume that “the Chinese” are a single hive mind, when you would never make that mistake about the USA. The cover-ups occurred in December, perpetrated by the Wuhan municipal and Hubei provincial governments, a consequence of a fundamental weakness of the Chinese system of top-down governance which rewards reported successes and punishes reported failures and stuff-ups. There was a sudden change when the truth came to the attention of the central government, which was when the report to the WHO was made.

    Initially, fact finders from the central government sent to Hubei gave too much credence to what the Hubei health officials were saying, so about mid-January they said that there was no evidence of human-to-human transmission, but had to quickly amend that statement the next day, particularly in light of the first case outside of China in Thailand discovered on January 13. The Wuhan and Hubei officials were removed from their posts and replaced by people drafted in from the central government. Xi Jinping has subsequently described those officials’ failings as “crimes”, and the CCP has volunteered that stuff-ups were made – if you know anything about the CCP, I mean really know anything about the CCP, it is very unusual for them to admit any faults or failings at all. So them volunteering that there had been failings should be read as very significant – it was an *internal* fault in their system, and that was their ‘mea culpa’ to the Chinese people, who by that point were very angry.

    The Chinese central government is acutely aware of the damage done to China in the eyes of the world by the covering up of the SARS epidemic in 2002/2003, and would not be keen to repeat that error on a much bigger scale. You need to be aware of what conditions were like in Wuhan and Hubei generally in January/February – it was chaos, with hospitals totally overrun, turning away untested all but the severely ill, and medical personnel worked to a state of total exhaustion. 52,000 medical personnel were transported in from other parts of China. Expecting precise tracking and reporting of data from that kind of environment is delusional.

    What else have they stuffed up? They have admitted that they did not report people who tested positive but remained asymptomatic throughout – they have now rectified that, but I suspect the true number of asymptomatics is larger than they have reported. I don’t understand why they did that, but the Centre for Health Protection in Hong Kong is doing the same thing, and they are not liars – on the contrary they have been notably up-front with the public in telling them the truth (unlike senior HK government officials, who have largely been MIA and in dereliction of their duty, and have left it to the CHP and infectious disease specialists from the universities to run the show).

    One of my criticisms of the Mainland government is that they have blocked Taiwan from having its own representation in the WHO, which is absolutely wrong, and they should stop it. If Taiwan can have its own participation in the Olympic Games, for goodness sake, then surely this is far more important.

    The Foreign Office idiot who was shooting from the hip and making ridiculous statements about how the epidemic in China might have been started by US Army personnel in Wuhan in October did his country absolutely no favours; it is notable that other Chinese officials made no such statements, but people in the USA are not to be blamed for being outraged by that stupid fool. My advice, for what it is worth, is that he was trying to provoke, and not to be provoked – I seriously doubt he was representing the considered view of the Chinese central government; they are not that dumb.

    I have some criticisms of the WHO, notably that they did not declare a global public health emergency until January 30 and, incredibly, did not declare a pandemic until March 11, by which time the whole of Italy had been locked down, and major outbreaks had also occurred in South Korea and Iran. My assumption at this point is that the WHO is an irrelevance – they have some good individual people, but the organisation as a whole is a waste of oxygen (which we all currently need a lot of!).

    A worry I have is that the source of SARS-CoV-2 has still not been identified. A lot of people seem to think it has, but it hasn’t. It seems a certainty that it did arise in China, and that it originated in some species of bat, but beyond that nothing has been determined with certainty, and it needs to be.

    A lower incidence of cases in rural China is not surprising at all. I don’t know why anyone would think so. You wouldn’t be surprised by that pattern with the Black Death in medieval Europe.

  8. It could be that models are very sensitive to assumptions. 50 sequences is not a lot and the coronavirus seems to have a short sequence with large possibilities for uncertainty about mutation frequency, particularly with low N of sequences?

    It seems kind of unlikely to me, in that you have the first detected symptomatic cases in Italy in early Jan (1st – 10th) – https://twitter.com/mtizzoni/status/1242044067162226688. Infection must be slightly earlier than this, by 7 days or so. These are confirmed symptomatic cases by PCR.

    If you tail back the growth rates we know about in Italy, Germany, etc. back from 08/02, starting from a number of 55,800, to late December, then you really would come to very few cases, and it is hard to see how something with of on the order of 10-100 cases in China is likely to cross-over to Italy from that.

    Even on the official Chinese tally of around 27 confirmed case at this point, even doubling that, it seems very improbable that you could have international transmission at such an early date on this number.

    (The US’s first official case was also recognised on 15/01 https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2020/p0121-novel-coronavirus-travel-case.html. Is that really so likely if you follow the official Chinese case stats where there are about 60 cases or something, in Wuhan, at this time, in a metro area of 19 million?).

    There seem like there are also some multiple lines of evidence against confirmed cases being too close to first recognized cases; unexplained spikes in body temperature on smart thermometers in the US preceding official confirmed cases cases, unexplained surges in search volumes for symptoms well before confirmed symptomatic cases (in Chinese search engines and in self referral flu surveys in the USA). The general expectations of epidemiology seem against it (first community identified cases usually a fraction of real, and then true exponential growth in the case of this kind of novel disease with transmission that’s hidden or only obvious at delay), and the studies I’ve seen coming out of Imperial and Oxford and quite a few govt authorities seem to indicate estimates of numbers many times higher than official confirmed cases.

    Whether any of this is a cover-up or just a combination of difficulties in estimating true infection frequency with unknowns for all, and a bit of extra “These communists are all incompetents” special sauce for China, I don’t know.

  9. China might cover some cases, but the overall numbers seem to be not too far off right now, which means they did an excellent job at containing the epidemic in their own country.

    Now everybody should know by now that the first reports from medical professionals were suppressed and the reaction of the Chinese local and regional administration was reluctant. THAT was their only grave mistake, everything else they did largely right!

    They even warned the global community absolutely IN TIME to prepare for whats coming. I saw what happened, I saw the numbers and I immediately wanted Europe to shut down, to cancel all flights from China, or at least Hubei, to use controls, even quarantine for those coming from risk zones, and to prepare for track and trace of infected, isolation, for epidemiological measures and so on.

    What happened? Almost all said “its just in China” and “its just like the flu anyway” and that was it! After seeing what happened in China, having the reports, even having excellent data and seeing how the Chinese government DID ITS JOB, they just laid back and contemplated about whether that’s a pandemy or not.

    The WHO did fail completely, the EU failed completely and every national government in Europe with some small exceptions failed too initially!

    Why to blame China? They should have closed the “wet markets” with exotic wild animals long ago. They were a constant threat for the Chinese people and the world for a long time and are against wild animal, endangered species and environmental protection too! But that’s not just an issue of China as well, because other countries of the “Sinosphere” do the same, just go to Thailand or Vietnam…

    So I just see a propaganda war which tries to give all the blame to China, to make the Chinese the scapegoat, which they don’t deserve, as one of the few nations and governments which reacted, after some initial mistakes, correctly!

    Even if they would cover some numbers, they acted right, on their own, while all the other administrations around the world got the warning in time, could prepare and prevent the epidemic, the death of millions, probably the greatest economic crash & depression ever known in Western modern history, but no, they preferred to proceed with “business as usual”.

    I’m so angry and the Western governments, at their complete failure. Its not just Trump, practically all Western governments, left & right alike failed initially and just miserably. Some were just hit faster, had other negative contributing factors, while others were more lucky.

    What you really see is that Liberalisation and a largely private health sector are dysfunctional, especially in the situation of a general crisis. They are uncoordinated, reluctant and incapable institutions. With the international supply chain for medical and other essential products being a complete mess too.

    Unlike the Chinese, Europeans and Americans saw it coming, they could have acted in time, they could have prevented the epidemic from spreading, to becoming this global pandemic with all its horrible consequences. But they preferred to proceed with “business as usual” instead for too long. With much smaller measures a much larger effect could have been created, I’m absolutely convinced about that. But they missed this opportunity and nobody knows to what the virus will evolve on and how the economic shock will look like during and after the lockdown. This is already the biggest single wrong decision of the Western political administration since World War 2 (minimum).

    Everyone should inform himself/herself about the hyperinflation crisis of 1923 in Germany, its about time:
    https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/guides/z9y64j6/revision/5

    Every political and economic decision maker should inform himself very carefully about what happened then, because if they are doing small things wrong in the next months, 1928-29 might look like a picnic in the park in comparison.

    And that’s if the virus doesn’t mutate to something worse and will be brought under control in an acceptable amount of time, with better treatments and much lower numbers in about 1-2 months, probably with the help of the weather effect. If the epidemic gets worse, worst case scenario is a more deadly mutant, we are approaching unknown scenarios.

    I can just repeat: All the Western organisations, administrations and governments failed collectively. Its an unbelievable shame. If I could know what would happen after the initial reports, how could all the decision makers, the Western media and “experts” don’t? How’s that even possible and what’s really going on here?

  10. Jacinda Ardern in New Zealand got it right – she said: “Go early and go hard.” She meant full lock down, and cut off from the rest of the world. I admire that woman. How come she knew she had to do that, when so many other national leaders didn’t?

    Australia is also currently looking in pretty good shape. My home state of Western Australia has banned BANNED! people from everywhere else in Australia from entering the state. Damn that made me laugh. Western Australia has been trying to secede from the Australian Commonwealth ever since 1926, when it was only 25 years old, and they’ve finally done it. Hooray! Sandgropers rejoice! Tasmania has done the same – they have the advantage of being an island state.

    But they are heading towards winter, so they need to be in good shape at this point for what could be coming.

  11. Wrong thread, but New Zealand could now be an autarky.

    If Peter Thiel, Elon Musk and the rest want to get to their refuges in NZ when the rest of the world goes to hell, well, they can’t – not allowed in. LOL.

    Didn’t see that coming, did you Elon?

  12. Based on what I’ve read, John Massey’s and Obs’s assertions about the Chinese central government doing its job and not being involved in a coverup are mistaken. Why would high level CCP officials be casting blame on the U.S. for a bioweapon attack, deliberate or accidental, during the annual military games in Wuhan in late October if for no other reason than to evade responsibility? https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/13/world/asia/coronavirus-china-conspiracy-theory.html
    Right now in China social media is going 24/7 with intense anti-American hatred based on conspiracy theories about how the virus escaped out of Fort Detrick. It’s off the hook. And those statements encouraged it.
    An American journalist based in Beijing considers the merits: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3J6zm6zgah0
    “Chinese President Xi Jinping must have known what was transpiring. On Jan. 7, he hosted a CCP leadership meeting and likely was briefed by health officials about the Wuhan outbreak.”
    https://thehill.com/opinion/international/490258-what-did-chinas-xi-jinping-know-and-when-did-he-know-it?fbclid=IwAR3Q9BHfAzs-tyxUfdRrScQ_Ec3Tfuc4L1ehJfxtPjSv-by-DuCx-jM_3BA
    “Taiwan said its doctors had heard from mainland colleagues that medical staff were getting ill — a sign of human-to-human transmission. Taipei officials said they reported this to both International Health Regulations (IHR), a WHO framework for exchange of epidemic prevention and response data between 196 countries, and Chinese health authorities on December 31.”
    https://www.ft.com/content/2a70a02a-644a-11ea-a6cd-df28cc3c6a68
    Bill Gertz makes a good case that the virus escaped from the bioresearch lab in Wuhan:
    https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2020/mar/30/china-researchers-isolated-bat-coronaviruses-near-/?fbclid=IwAR2XBChgniZngzDCIuPb31AWa6XukVokModR-NThP1qwDqiTVMx2VWQi
    in NYC, with a high population density similar to Wuhan, the infection rate has doubled every 3 days.
    https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2020/03/24/820891370/coronavirus-n-y-infection-rate-is-doubling-about-every-3-days-cuomo-says

  13. Yeah I don’t think that China is significantly under-reporting. But I think the story about it coming from a wet market is dubious and the authorities were well aware of the disease for longer than what we think, which is why they were able to prepare and execute the closure of an entire city.

    I think it was an accident in a lab somewhere, nothing nefarious, but it would give bad optics so they tried to pretend all is well for a while and made a declaration too late. All because of optics.

  14. These are ridiculous conspiracy theories. Who would make such a mistake? It threatens all and neither the US nor the Chinese ABC institutions are that incompetent to just let it out. What kind of research were they supposed to do?

    @RW: It is very obvious that both the Western (“China and authoritarianism”), as well as the Eastern (“USA and Liberalism”) parties try to construct a scapegoat for being able to avoid the blame for their own shortcomings. China failed initially, but did good afterwards, the West had a solid but overall still manipulated coverage from the start and failed at the start of the epidemic in its own territory as well and never came to the efficiency China and Korea showed.

    You can pick your side and blame the other, but I prefer to evaluate the shortcomings of all sides equally. What you wrote RW proves nothing of real relevance. The only thing which really matters are the current infection rates in China and I saw no convincing proof for a big manipulation. The stories about million dead Chinese are hard to believe, because it would come up big time. Even China can’t keep such a disaster a secret. Not any more, no way.

    The West failed much worse than China did and that’s a fact.

  15. Mistakes and accidents happen, this is one of the least conspiratorial lines to go about. The CCP was actually not incompetent which is why it was stopped with relatively few casualties over a small zone. There are people thinking that it is some kind of an actual bioweapon actively made to do what it is doing. THAT is a conspiracy and I am not supporting that view.

    The incompetent party here would be the US and you seem to agree by saying that “The West failed much worse than China did and that’s a fact.”

  16. @DaThang: You are not the first and only person bringing forward the idea of some sort of “accident” in a Chinese laboratory, but what kind of proofs did you read about?
    I heard just speculations from obvious enemies of the Chinese government, especially from Neoliberal think tanks and a few people buying that naively.

    What kind of institution did what kind of research on the virus? We know from situations in Central Africa with Ebola and other viral hemorrhagic fevers how easy it is for people in markets and in the wild to get infected. And those are much, much less infectious.

    So why do we need an accident for the spread of SARS-Cov2? And if people spread such (fake?) news, what’s the evidence or even supporting, logical argument? As far as I know that’s just rumours. Like the story of the US spreading the virus in China on purpose. Same thing to me.

  17. The US deliberately spreading the virus to China is on par with it being a bioweapon made by China. It isn’t the same thing as an accident. Both of the scenarios in the first sentence are intentionally made conspiracies.

    The virus originating from a wet market as an accident is roughly on par with it originating in a lab by accident as far as the motives are concerned. Both kinds of things have actually happened in the past, and not just in China but in other countries as well. And there are basic, not far fetched assumptions that are made either way for the 2 cases. An accident either way, which didn’t receive the coverage it should have. And yes, I still believe that the US was the more incompetent party for not taking the issue seriously at an early stage at a level that anything other a central government cannot do. I know that authorities can’t realistically sound off the alarms for every new potential problem which might or might not become a problem but taking chances leads to situations like this.

    Anyway, there was this paper from February by Botao Xiao and Lei Xiao which hinted at it possibly originating from a Lab due to not enough safety precautions in place. Wouldn’t say ‘lack’ just that there were probably not enough. And this isn’t unique to China, so in no way am I trying to claim that these kinds of things don’t happen outside of China, this time around it just seems to have started in China. There was a lab incident in the US in 2013 or 2014, can’t remember the exact year and it involved the (mis)handling of anthrax.

  18. I know such accidents could happen, but still its just a conspiracy theory without a real base. All investigations led to nothing. What kind of lab and what did they do where? Simple question.

    Its possible the virus was around for longer but mutated in meantime, that’s a theory some reknowned virologists brought on the table.

  19. There is evidence that SARS-CoV-2 is not escaped from a laboratory.

    The proximal origin of SARS-CoV-2
    https://www.nature.com/articles/s41591-020-0820-9#Sec4

    To quote, “hypothetical generation of SARS-CoV-2 by cell culture or animal passage would have required prior isolation of a progenitor virus with very high genetic similarity, which has not been described.”

    If it was an accidental release, it would be identical to already existing pathogens that is currently being researched in the Wuhan virology lab. However, SARS-CoV-2 is only ~96% identical overall to bat SARS-CoV, and highly divergent at the spike protein which allows it to bind to human ACE2; the virus SARS-CoV-2 is most closely related to does not infect humans well.

    And it is not an artifical creation either

    To quote, “As noted above, the RBD of SARS-CoV-2 is optimized for binding to human ACE2 with an efficient solution different from those previously predicted. Furthermore, if genetic manipulation had been performed, one of the several reverse-genetic systems available for betacoronaviruses would probably have been used. However, the genetic data irrefutably show that SARS-CoV-2 is not derived from any previously used virus backbone”

  20. A kind of a lab where they were studying different types of coronaviruses, gathering information in order to help prevent the kind of incident that ended up happening. Would be ironic if it turned out to be true.
    Probably Wuhan Center for Disease Control and Prevention as a candidate location.

  21. The model counts only the Chinese who are involved in the chain that eventually infected the sample (foreign) population. Most European countries banned Chinese entry by Feb 8th. At most it says Chinese did not cover up up to that point. But it is well known that there was a sudden and unnatural flattening of both infection and death curve among Chinese when it seemed getting out of control in the early Feb.

  22. Ok, so its pure rumours and unfounded speculation. Not impossible, but still fake as long as there is nothing substantial.

  23. Denying the Chinese communist party’s cover-up of the Hubei holocaust, is like giving a pass to Nazi Germany for genocide of undesirables. Just keeping it real:

    “As many experts question the veracity of China’s statistics for the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak, Tencent over the weekend appeared to inadvertently release what is potentially the actual number of infections and deaths — which are far higher than official figures, but eerily in line with predictions from a respected scientific journal.”
    https://www.taiwannews.com.tw/en/news/3871594

    Chinese woman describes Julian patients being burned alive
    https://www.taiwannews.com.tw/en/news/3881683

    “A truck driver in Wuhan delivered about 5,000 urns to a single funeral home over two days last week, according to the South China Morning Post, which cited a Caixin magazine report.
    “The Caixin report, according to SCMP, “purportedly showed 3,500 urns stacked on the floor of the funeral home.”
    “The official death toll in Wuhan “can’t be right … because the incinerators have been working round-the-clock,” one resident, who identified himself by his surname, Zhang, told Radio Free Asia.”
    https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.businessinsider.com/wuhan-residents-say-chinese-government-coronavirus-death-toll-is-low-2020-3%3famp

  24. Sounds like conspiracy theory. Anti-chinese rethoric plagues international news nowadays.

  25. “A few points: On December 31, Chinese health authorities notified the WHO of 41 cases of a mysterious pneumonia of unusual severity in Wuhan, clustered around a particular ‘seafood’ market. ”

    Repeatedly, on Greg Cochran’s West Hunter blog, John Massey has alluded to a claim by unnamed and unsourced “Chinese scientists” that the virus began circulating in November and that there is no proven relationship between the wet market and what became this pandemic.

    Repeatedly I have challenged him to supply a link and repeatedly John Massey has either ignored or upbraided me in sharp personal terms.

    Repeatedly John Massey has said that all he cares about is nailing down the science.

    So, for the last time: please name the source of this claim. One link. One name of one scientist.

  26. Anecdotal. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/13/first-covid-19-case-happened-in-november-china-government-records-show-report

    There is obviously a relationship between the Huanan market and the pandemic – many of the early cases had some link to the market. I have said so. But given that Chinese scientists have been unable to identify an intermediate animal from the market, that has made me think aloud about whether the market outbreak is really just an artifact, as unlikely as that seems, and the source might be somewhere else. Intuitively it seems pretty important to identify the source, if that is now possible.

    In future I must remember not to think aloud.

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