The study used 34,000 people from the total population of Wuhan and Hubei provinces, the original centers of the pandemic, and Beijing, Shanghai, and provinces such as Guangdong, Jiangsu, Sichuan, and Liaoning. Estimate the Covid-19 infection rate.
Researchers found that among the residents of Wuhan, which has a population of 11 million, the prevalence of Covid-19 antibodies is 4.43%. The Wuhan Municipal Health Commission stated that as of Sunday, Wuhan had reported 50,354 confirmed Covid-19 cases.
The study aims to estimate the scale of infection in the past population by testing whether there are coronavirus antibodies in the serum samples of the population. Its findings cannot be used as the final statistics on how many people in a certain area have been exposed to the virus.
The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention said the study was conducted one month after China “contained the first wave of the Covid-1
9 epidemic.” Studies have shown that the prevalence rate outside Wuhan is significantly lower. In other cities in Hubei, only 0.44% of surveyed residents have coronavirus antibodies.
Outside the province, only two of the more than 12,000 residents surveyed had antibodies detected.
On Monday, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention published the results of the study on social media. It did not mention whether the research has been published in academic journals.
Underreported coronavirus infection
Huang Yanzhong, senior researcher for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations, said that the study pointed to the underreporting of infection rates during the outbreak in Wuhan, partly due to the chaos at the time and the failure to include the number of officially confirmed cases of asymptomatic diseases.
In January and February, patients with fever flooded into Wuhan hospitals, which lacked human resources, testing tools and medical resources for diagnosis and treatment. Instead, many people were told to go home and self-quarantine-some ended up infecting other family members, while others died at home without being recorded in the Covid-19 death toll.
Underreporting is a problem faced by health authorities in many countries, usually due to lack of capacity and resources. Antibody studies conducted by researchers in other parts of the world also show that the prevalence of coronavirus is much higher than official figures.
For example, a study sponsored by the New York State Department of Health showed that by the end of March, one in seven adults in New York had Covid-19, which is about 10 times higher than the official account. In August, another study found that of the 1.5 million New York City residents tested, more than 27% had coronavirus antibodies.
But in China, there is also a transparency problem, because officials provide the public with more optimistic data than internal interviews.
Since February 12, the health department of Hubei Province began to include “clinically confirmed cases” in the count of confirmed infections. On that day, approximately 13,000 previously undisclosed “clinically diagnosed cases” were added to the newly discovered infection cases in the province, resulting in a 9-fold increase in daily cases compared to the previous day.
Earlier, a leaked document from the Hubei Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention submitted by the whistleblower to the Hubei Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention showed that the authorities had reported “clinically confirmed cases” internally, but did not disclose it to the public. Documents show that Hubei authorities also publicly reported that the number of confirmed cases and deaths on February 10 and March 7 was less than internal records.
The authorities also severely cracked down on citizen journalists who reported on the harsh reality of the flood of hospitals in Wuhan. On Monday, Zhang Zhan, a former lawyer who had a large-scale outbreak in Wuhan, was sentenced to four years in prison for “provocation and provocation”. After reporting the epidemic, two other independent journalists, Li Zehua and Fang Bin, were also detained.
Effective containment in Wuhan
The study highlights the huge contrast between the incidence of coronavirus antibodies inside and outside Wuhan.
Huang Renxun said that the sharp drop in housing prices in other Chinese cities shows that “China’s containment efforts are indeed rapid and effective, especially when compared to cities like New York.”
In order to contain the rapidly spreading virus, Wuhan was blocked in an unprecedented way and isolated from the outside world on January 23. All flights, trains and buses were cancelled and highway entrances were blocked.
Within the city, the government implemented severe blockade measures. For more than two months, public transportation in Wuhan has been suspended, businesses have been closed, millions of residents have been restricted to their houses and residential communities, and they are not even allowed to go out to shop in grocery stores.
However, because all public transportation has been suspended and there are not enough taxis available for patients, the 76-day blockade has caused huge losses to residents, especially those who need to go to the hospital.
Despite this, the Chinese government has announced comprehensive measures to allow the country to turn around in the fight against the epidemic.
At the same time, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention also emphasized China’s victory in containing the virus when it released the results of the antibody study on Monday.
The agency said: “The research results show that the infection rate of the Chinese population is very low. This shows that China has successfully controlled the epidemic with Wuhan as the main battlefield, and effectively controlled the large-scale spread of the epidemic.”
CNN’s Nick Paton Walsh (Nick Paton Walsh) contributed to this story.