Has China underreported the number of Covid-19 cases?

by Andrada Costoiu

Having analyzing the statistics for the past week or so, I am rather puzzled by the evolution of the pandemics across the world. While China is reporting very few or little cases, other parts of the world, aka Western Europe and USA is witnessing an exponential evolution in number of infections and deaths. Not only is the number of infections quickly increasing everywhere but, by comparison, the number of cases/size of population seems unaligned when comparing China with the rest of the world.

Because I have lived in a former communist country, my first thought was that China’s government is misinforming the rest of the world. However, I have dismissed this idea on thoughts that they have been better on measures of containment.
Though, as the infection with Covid-19 is unfolding day after day, my thoughts of misinformation don’t go away. So, I am looking again at statistics. The story of China doesn’t seem credible and here is why.

Forget about the number of deaths, let’s look at the numbers in a way an epidemiologist would analyze them. 

Scientists use RO – the reproduction number – to describe the intensity of an infectious disease outbreak. R0 is the number of cases, on average, an infected person will cause during their infectious period. According the available scientific information the RO for SARS was 3 (World Health Organization). Click here to see the reference about SARS. So an infected person will infect 3 other people and so on. It’s like a snowball. 

We don’t know yet what the reproduction number is yet for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. But what we do know is the number of infections and deaths/ per country.

By looking at statistics, I think the most telling is the following. I built this table based on data from European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. This table shows how the number of infections has doubled throughout the world. You can find more statistics and info at European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, click here to get to their page

World  # cases doubled in
7 days
657,140 total March 29+65,169 new March 29
United States # cases doubled in 4 days124,665 total March 29+19,979 new March 29
Italy# cases doubled in
9 days
92,472 total March 29+5,974 new March 29
China# cases doubled in
48 days 
82,342 total March 29+129 new March 29
Spain# cases doubled in
5 days
72,248 total March 29+8,189 new March 29
Germany# cases doubled in
6 days 
52,547 total March 29+3,965 new March 29
France# cases doubled in
6 days 
37,575 total March 29+4,611 new March 29
United Kingdom# cases doubled in
4 days 
17,089 total March 29+2,546 new March 29

Data source: European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control

Now, if the RO is the same for this virus across the world, you would expect the number of days in which the # of cases would double to be comparable among countries. Not the same, but comparable. So then, how come, between China and the rest of the world there is such a huge discrepancy?!!!! 48 days for China, while the rest of the world is 6-7 days?!!

To add to this, China’s population is 1.386 billion people. But let’s not talk about whole China. The hardest hit province was Hubei with 55 million. Guangdong Province too, was affected and it is connected by strong transportation links to Hubei Province. Guangdong is home to 113 million people and contains many large cities including Guangzhou (12m people), Shenzhen (10m), Dongguan (8m) and Foshan (7m). So, between Hubei and Guandog, we have close to 160 million people….
Let’s assume that COVID did not spread past these 2 provinces…

China has reported  82,342. So, to compare
China 82,342/160 million people
Italy 92,472 /60.4 million
Germany 52,547 /82.7 million 
Germany and Italy had a much later start than China, and they are still going strong. They still have yet to flatten the curve.

Based on this data, I am not sure if China is telling the real numbers. If they are, it would be great to know how their numbers doubled in 48 days while for the rest of the world was 6-7 days.  Also, what measures they put in place to spread the disease propagating throughout the rest of the population. 

I guess I am not the only one that hypothesizes that the Chinese official figures are inaccurate. 

Dr. Anne Schuchat, deputy director of the CDC, stated that her organization believes China is underreporting Covid-19 data.

Also, according to a study from Ohio State University, for China,  “the number of cumulative cases, new cases per day , and cumulative deaths coming from the non-official data are all substantially higher by a factor of 5 to 10 (depending on the date of the data) than would be implied by the official Chinese government data”. (Source: He, Mai and Dunn, Lucia F., Evaluating Incidence and Impact Estimates of the Coronavirus Outbreak from Official and Non-Official Chinese Data Sources (February 18, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3540636 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3540636)

A newspaper from NYC has obtained data from Shandong province in China. They report that:

“Each day from Feb. 9 to Feb. 23, Shandong authorities underreported the number of infections, according to internal data compiled by the Shandong Center for Disease Prevention and Control (SCDC). The SCDC kept a tally of the number of people who tested positive for the virus during nucleic acid testing—using a diagnostic kit to test patient samples and detect whether they contain the virus’s genetic sequence.
The SCDC’s daily new infection numbers ranged from 1.36 times to 52 times greater than the officially published data by the Shandong health commission and China’s National Health Commission.
As of Feb. 25, the Shandong government stated that there were a total of 755 infections in the province. But the internal document showed that 1,992 people had tested positive for the virus via nucleic acid testing as of Feb. 23.”

And now, UK’s government it believes that China has heavily underreported their cases. Click here is the link for the article in UK’s news

Oh, and here is an update: an article that came out today on yahoo news, that says ” Wuhan Residents Dismiss Official Coronavirus Death Toll: ‘The Incinerators Have Been Working Around the Clock”. Click here to go to this article.

Well folks, with all this information, I will let you judge. I think we all need to work together to combat this virus. No matter which part of the world we inhabit, we’re in this together. This is not a question of politics, it is a question of humanity. 


© Andrada Costoiu and a-passion4life.com, 2019- . Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Andrada Costoiu and a-passion4life.com, 2019 with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Whoever carries a light

by Andrada Costoiu

The entryway is cozy,
I feel the warmth underfoot and
Soft lighting engulfs me.
I’m home.

“You’re late again!” my lover said to me.
I blink,
Life is tumultuous sometimes,
The pain of the world is real and there is no sugar coating,
I’m late, yes.

Maybe I was in a dream
Or in some kind of apocalyptic hallucination,
I spent my day between doctors and people
Carrying trays, moving equipment.

A red haired, freckled and washed out man,
Grabbed my hand when I was moving between beds,
“I wish you hurry up,
The dark night of the soul is blowing over us”, he said.

I did hurry up,
So did everyone around me.
Whoever carried a light
Was quickly walking in the darkness,
To rescue the ones who were stuck there,
And we were brining light,
One flicker at the time.

This for all the exhausted doctors, nurses and medical personnel out there. They are brining light to the ones who suffer now, one flicker at a time….


© Andrada Costoiu and a-passion4life.com, 2019- . Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Andrada Costoiu and a-passion4life.com, 2019 with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Let’s rewrite the story of this pandemic

by Andrada Costoiu

Amid the avalanche of statistics and scary news about the Novel Coronavirus, one can feel overwhelmed with not so good feelings. And it is normal, when you see the exponential growth of this pandemic.
Across the world the media is spreading the concerns about the evolution of the pandemics, the dark and the gloomy. Day after day we see warnings, we see politicians that are worried, some of them complain, some of them criticize the others.

But I want us to move beyond that. Behind politics and all these statistics there are lives, none of us is just a number. We are people and we are fighters. While scientifically we slowly advance, in daily life we see people shine with hope, with stories of kindness and love. Let’s bring these up.

Write about yourself, about people in your neighborhood or about things that you have heard. Spread the positive, bring up the best in us as humans.

Love finds a way

Yes, quarantine, closed places, and not being able to do the things you usually do, can be disturbing. But!! But we can still find our ways to express the way we feel, can’t we? And through this, there is togetherness and there is power!

Look at this old man, whose wife is quarantined in a Connecticut nursing home. They’re celebrating their 67thanniversary, but he cannot join her inside. So, he is in front of her window. Isn’t it beautiful? Here is the link to the full article.

Here is another story, of a son that goes to see his father everyday. His father is also in a quarantined nursing home.

He sits outside the window and talks to his dad through the phone . Here is the link to their story .

Hope: old people are survivors too

We know that old people are affected the most. But among them, there are stories of survival.

Geneva Wood is a A 90-year-old woman who contracted coronavirus at Life Care Center senior care facility in Seattle. She’s doing well and she’s recovering. Here is a picture of her eating her favorite potato soup!

In Italy, there is a 95 years old woman, Clara Orsini that has recovered as reported by Gazette Di Modena.

These women are beacons of hope for the elderly people and those with chronic diseases.

We stand together

Spain, Norway, France, Scotland and many other places, started national applause campaigns. People are clapping from their balconies and from wherever they are for the nurses, doctors, and for all other healthcare workers who are working hard and help those who are ill.

Here is Madrid, Spain

Here is another one, from around the world, provided by Washington Post. Copy and paste this link in your browser : https://wapo.st/2Uo5b0h

And these are big pictures. But small stories of solidarity are in each and every neighborhood. Young people offer to shop for the elders, neighbors report full shelves in the grocery stores instead of focusing on the lack of different supplies. 

Faith has no boundaries

We are all different, aren’t we?  Race, ethnicity, religion, these all have managed to draw boundaries around our little planet. 

Here is chart from PEW (a research institute) about how total world population is divided across different religions.

How many conflicts the religious divide has fueled in the world? How much violence and hostilities?

And here is what is happening today. Doctors and nurses around the world are praying before entering their shift, each in their own way. 

In Pakistan (albeit they are too close from each other!:))

Hospital staff pray before joining their shift, outside a hospital setup for coronavirus infected patients in Quetta, Pakistan, Thursday, March 26, 2020. The virus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP Photo/Arshad Butt)

In Palestine

this is a disinfecting crew in Palestine

The Pope prays, people pray everywhere….each of them in their own way.

So, here we are, with these humble displays of humanity.

There is love, there is hope, there is faith and there is “together”.


© Andrada Costoiu and a-passion4life.com, 2019- . Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Andrada Costoiu and a-passion4life.com, 2019 with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

2020 Pandemic

by Andrada Costoiu

In the morning I read the news, it is one of my routines. I want to see what has happened in the world while I was asleep. When the pandemic began, I started studying the statistics in search for patterns and explanations. I gained a lot of insight, at a cost.
Today I found myself sinking in my chair, crying. When the statistics came in I felt as someone punched me straight into the heart, if there is such a thing…
I was crying because Italy’s numbers went up again. For couple of days they went slightly lower. New daily deaths were around 600/day (which is a lot!) and I thought that they have reached the peak and that they were going down. I was cheering in my heart for them to be better and for their numbers to get lower and lower!!

I think Dr. Strange has skewed the reality. I feel as I live in a bad dream and I am waiting to wake up.  I wonder how everybody feels? 

I know that above all, hope must prevail. I know that this will be over, but I want the loss of life to stop. I don’t want old people to die alone and be buried without the attendance of their families.  I don’t want people to die.

Human kind has been through bad situations. Many of them have happened before we were born, but many happened during our lives. To mention few of the latest: the Syrian war, the genocide in Kosovo and there are many others that I will just leave aside.
What have we done to stop them? Why is there always an international struggle for power, when we all are humans living on this planet. Why do we spend resources on warfare instead of spending them on development, cures, better lives for people and eventually, making our way in this vast universe because this planet might not be enough?

This virus doesn’t recognize borders. Maybe this pandemic was a wake up call. A call for people to become better, a call for nation states to become better. I hope we will learn. I hope we will become more compassionate, more loving, more supportive, because these qualities and more are in each and every one of us.
On this little planet called Earth our story, as humankind, should be a story of survival. A story of love, because it makes us all feel good. A story of compassion and support because we all need each other.

Here is to all of you, to all the doctors and nurses, to people working in all domains, to our elders, to our young people. Keep pouring whatever you have good in your cup in the cups of others, become their miracle.

We will get through this together.