Is China sharing enough COVID-19 information?
By Huizhong Wu And Aniruddha Ghosal in Taipei
TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — As COVID-19 rips through China, other countries and the World Health Organization are calling on its government to share more comprehensive data on the outbreak. Some even say many of the numbers it’s reporting are meaningless.
Without basic data like the number of deaths, infections and severe cases, governments elsewhere have instituted virus testing requirements for travelers from China. Beijing has said the measures aren’t science-based and threatened countermeasures.
Of greatest concern is whether new variants will emerge from the mass infection unfolding in China and spread to other countries. The delta and omicron variants developed in places that also had large outbreaks, which can be a breeding ground for new variants.
Here’s a look at what’s going on with China’s COVID-19 data:
WHAT IS CHINA SHARING AND NOT SHARING?
Chinese health authorities publish a daily count of new cases, severe cases and deaths, but those numbers include only officially confirmed cases and use a very narrow definition of COVID-related deaths.
China is most certainly doing their own sampling studies but just not sharing them, said Ray Yip, who founded the U.S. Centers for Disease Control office in China.
The nationwide tally for Thursday was 9,548 new cases and five deaths, but some local governments are releasing much higher estimates just for their jurisdictions. Zhejiang, a province on the east coast, said Tuesday it was seeing about 1 million new cases a day.
If a variant emerges in an outbreak, it’s found through genetic sequencing of the virus.
Since the pandemic started, China has shared 4,144 sequences with GISAID, a global platform for coronavirus data. That’s only 0.04% of its reported number of cases — a rate more than 100 times less than the United States and nearly four times less than neighboring Mongolia.
WHAT IS KNOWN AND WHAT CAN BE FIGURED OUT?
So far, no new variants have shown up in the sequences shared by China. The versions fueling infections in China “closely resemble” those that have been seen in other parts of the world since July, GISAID said. Dr. Gagandeep Kang, who studies viruses at the Christian Medical College of Vellore in India, agreed, saying there wasn’t anything particularly worrisome in the data so far.
That hasn’t stopped at least 10 countries — including the U.S., Canada, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia, the U.K., France, Spain and Italy — from announcing virus testing requirements for passengers from China. The European Union strongly encouraged all its member states to do so this week.
Health officials have defended the testing as a surveillance measure that helps fill an information gap from China. This means countries can get a read on any changes in the virus through testing, even if they don’t have complete data from China.
“We don’t need China to study that, all we have to do is to test all the people coming out of China,” said Yip, the former public health official.
Canada and Belgium said they will look for viral particles in wastewater on planes arriving from China.
“It is like an early warning system for authorities to anticipate whether there’s a surge of infections coming in,” said Dr. Khoo Yoong Khean, a scientific officer at the Duke-NUS Centre for Outbreak Preparedness in Singapore.
IS CHINA SHARING ENOUGH INFORMATION?
Chinese officials have repeatedly said they are sharing information, pointing to the sequences given to GISAID and meetings with the WHO.
But WHO officials have repeatedly asked for more — not just on genetic sequencing but also on hospitalizations, ICU admissions and deaths. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus expressed concern this week about the risk to life in China.
“Data remains essential for WHO to carry out regular, rapid and robust risk assessments of the global situation,” the head of the U.N. health agency said.
The Chinese government often holds information from its own public, particularly anything that reflects negatively on the ruling Communist Party. State media have shied away from the dire reports of a spike in cremations and people racing from hospital to hospital to try to get treatment as the health system reaches capacity. Government officials have accused foreign media of hyping the situation.
Khoo, noting that South Africa’s early warning about omicron led to bans on travelers from the country, said there is a need to foster an environment where countries can share data without fear of repercussions.
The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Science and Educational Media Group. The AP is solely responsible for all content.
WHO’s Global Digital Health Certification Network
From the youtube channel of Dr. John Campbell
With notes from the World Health Organization website, Dr. John Campbell explains the WHO’s Global Digital Health Certification Network.
Dr. John Campbell’s Presentation notes:
WHO’s Global Digital Health Certification Network https://www.who.int/initiatives/globa…
WHO has established the Global Digital Health Certification Network (GDHCN). Open-source platform, built on robust & transparent standards, that establishes the first building block of digital public health infrastructure, for developing a wide range of digital products, for strengthening pandemic preparedness
Background Member States used digital COVID-19 test and vaccine certificates As the directing and coordinating authority on international health work, at the onset of the pandemic, WHO engaged with all WHO Regions to define overall guidance for such certificates and published the Digital Documentation of COVID-19 Certificates
https://www.who.int/publications/i/it… https://www.who.int/publications/i/it… there is a recognition of an existing gap, and continued need for a global mechanism, that can support bilateral verification of the provenance of health documents
The GDHCN may include Digitisation of the International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis, verification of prescriptions across borders
International Patient Summary Verification of vaccination certificates within and across borders Certification of public health professionals (through WHO Academy) Expanding such digital solutions will be essential to deliver better health for people across the globe.
The GDHCN has been designed to be interoperable with other existing regional networks EU-WHO digital partnership https://www.who.int/news/item/05-06-2… • LIVE: WHO and @EU… https://commission.europa.eu/strategy… WHO and the European Commission have agreed to partner in digital health.
This partnership will work to technically develop the WHO system with a staged approach to cover additional use cases, In June 2023, WHO will take up the European Union (EU) system of digital COVID-19 certification to establish a global system, that will help facilitate global mobility
This is the first building block of the WHO Global Digital Health Certification Network (GDHCN)
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus WHO aims to offer all WHO Member States access, On the principles of equity, innovation, transparency and data protection and privacy Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety
This partnership is an important step for the digital action plan of the EU Global Health Strategy, we contribute to digital health standards and interoperability globally
Thierry Breton, Commissioner for Internal Market The EU certificate … has also facilitated international travel and tourism I am pleased that the WHO will build on …. cutting-edge technology … to create a global tool against future pandemics
One of the key elements in the European Union’s work against the COVID-19 pandemic has been digital COVID-19 certificates. WHO will facilitate this process globally under its own structure … allow the world to benefit from convergence of digital certificates. Expanding such digital solutions will be essential to deliver better health for citizens across the globe.
The WHO and the European Commission will work together to encourage maximum global uptake and participation.
Discovery Is the Covid Regime’s Greatest Fear
The most recent batch of the “Twitter files” offers brief insight into the Covid regime’s fear that the details behind their censorship and collusion will become public.
On Thursday, Alex Berenson posted a series of email correspondences between Twitter attorneys concerning his 2022 lawsuit against the company.
Last year, Berenson sued Twitter after the company issued him a “permanent ban” for his August 2021 tweet opposing vaccine mandates:
“It doesn’t stop infection. Or transmission. Don’t think of it as a vaccine. Think of it – at best – as a therapeutic with a limited window of efficacy and terrible side effect profile that must be dosed IN ADVANCE OF ILLNESS. And we want to mandate it? Insanity.”
After a judge denied Twitter’s motion to dismiss, the two sides reached a settlement agreement that reinstated Berenson’s account and provided concrete evidence that government actors – including White House Covid Advisor Andy Slavitt – worked to censor criticism of Biden’s Covid policies.
In the emails, Twitter’s litigation team discusses the probability that they will lose the case.
“We believe our chances of success at the trial level are less than 50%,” writes Micah Rubbo, Twitter’s associate director for litigation. She then asks, “Are we willing to litigate and risk the potential public disclosure of *many* documents in order to prevent disclosure of some of them now?’”
Rubbo’s comments reveal Twitter’s primary motivation to settle the case. The company was not worried about monetary damages or regulatory fines; its concerns were entirely reputational. She focused on the risk of potential public disclosures, not the risk of losing the trial. Failure to reach a settlement jeopardized exposing the company’s communications with government officials, law enforcement agencies, pharmaceutical companies, and other pro-censorship actors in the Covid regime.
Twitter did not settle with Berenson out of remorse for its actions or care for journalistic freedoms. It was a calculated decision designed to mitigate public relations backlash.
Berenson’s reporting did not uncover the documents that the lawyers worried would become public, but the reaction indicates that any concessions would be better than discovery.
Now, Berenson has filed suit against President Biden, White House advisors, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla, and Pfizer Board Member Scott Gottlieb for orchestrating a public-private censorship campaign against him.
In Berenson v. Biden: The Potential and Significance, we wrote:
The conspirators censored Berenson because he was inconvenient, not incorrect. Their ploy may backfire, however. Berenson v. Biden could unearth more information on the Covid era than his reporting would have ever uncovered.
Discovery and depositions from Pfizer and the White House would be the most valuable insight of the last three years – insight into the power structures that orchestrated lockdowns, censorship, forced vaccinations, school closures, economic upheaval, government overreach, and the merger of corporations with the state.
Berenson’s latest reporting reinforces the potential backfire against the censors. They have jeopardized their regime by banning a tweet that would have been relatively inconsequential. Now, Berenson’s suit threatens to uncover the inner workings of the censorship-industrial complex.
The revelations from Missouri v Biden (covered in a series here) are astonishing enough. They prove the existence of a vast, relentless, deliberate, communicative, and effective hegemon of control that impacts the news and information experience of every person connected to the Internet. It is still in full operation. The only real difference is that we know about it.
All indications are that the judicial system will favor a final and clean decision for free speech, even if that only comes at the hands of the Supreme Court at a much later date. That does not fix the continuing problem now and does not guarantee that government and business will not continue this in the future. But at least for now, there is some reason for hope that the Bill of Rights is not entirely dead.
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