U.S. intelligence officials concluded that China intentionally hid details of the coronavirus outbreak in its country to mask the number of total cases and deaths.
The officials, who spoke anonymously to Bloomberg, provided their conclusions in a classified report to the White House last week, in which they declared China had provided fake statistics of coronavirus cases in their own country.
Skepticism has surrounded China’s reporting of its coronavirus outbreak, which began in December 2019. China’s reported numbers of coronavirus, which are compiled and updated by Johns Hopkins University’s global coronavirus tracking map, shows just 82,000 coronavirus cases and 3,300 deaths in China.
In contrast, the U.S. now has 190,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and 4,100 deaths.
Skepticism of China’s coronavirus reporting stems from the Chinese government’s repeatedly changed case counting methodology, which left out individuals who were confirmed positive for coronavirus but did not exhibit symptoms of the virus.
Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House Coronavirus Task Force coordinator, said the world is still missing significant data from China.
“The medical community … interpreted the Chinese data as: This was serious, but smaller than anyone expected,” Birx said on Tuesday. “Because I think probably we were missing a significant amount of the data, now that what we see happened to Italy and see what happened to Spain.”
On Monday, a Reuters report citing five U.S. government sources described “serious gaps” in their ability to determine the status of coronavirus in China, as well as Russia and North Korea. Assessment of these countries is difficult due to heavily state-controlled information.
The lack of information, however, is harming the rest of the world’s ability to predict patterns of the coronavirus outbreak.