Did China's Tencent Accidentally Leak The True Terrifying Coronavirus Statistics
Ten days ago, shortly after China first started reporting the cases and deaths associated with the coronavirus epidemic, a UK researcher predicted that over 250,000 Chinese would be infected with the virus by February 4. And while according to official Chinese data, the number of infections has indeed soared in the past two weeks, at just under 25,000 (and roughly 500 deaths), it is a far cry from this dismal prediction, about ten times below that predicted by the epidemiologists.
Is this discrepancy possible? Is the epidemic truly far less serious than conventional epidemiological models predicted? Or is China merely hiding the full extent of the problem?
After all, it the WSJ itself reported in late January , China was explicitly manipulating the casualty number by listing pneumonia as the cause of death instead of coronavirus. Subsequent reports that Wuhan officials were rushing to cremate coronavirus casualties before they could be counted did not add to the credibility of the official data.
But the biggest hit to the narrative and China's officially reported epidemic numbers came overnight, when a slip up in China's TenCent may have revealed the true extent of the coronavirus epidemic on the mainland. And it is nothing short than terrifying.
As the Taiwan Times reports in a report first spotted by user @IN_174, over the weekend, Tencent "seems to have inadvertently released what is potentially the actual number of infections and deaths, which were astronomically higher than official figures", and were far closer to the catastrophic epidemic projections made by Jonathan Read.
According to the report, late on Saturday evening, Tencent, on its webpage titled "Epidemic Situation Tracker", showed confirmed cases of novel coronavirus (2019nCoV) in China as standing at 154,023, 10 times the official figure at the time. It listed the number of suspected cases as 79,808, four times the official figure.
And while the number of cured cases was only 269, well below the official number that day of 300, most ominously, the death toll listed was 24,589, vastly higher than the 300 officially listed that day.
Moments later, Tencent updated the numbers to reflect the government's "official" numbers that day.
This was not the first time Tencent has done this: as Taiwan Times notes, Chinese netizens have noticed that Tencent has on at least three occasions posted extremely high numbers, only to quickly lower them to government-approved statistics.
This is where it gets even more bizarre: contrary to claiming that this was just a "fat finger" mistyping of data, observant Chinese netizens also noticed that each time the screen with the large numbers appears, it shows a comparison with the previous day's data which demonstrates a "reasonable" incremental increase, much like comparisons of official numbers.
This led many in the mainland to speculate that Tencent has two sets of data, the real data and "processed" data.
In short, two camps have emerged: one, the more optimistic, speculates that a coding problem could be causing the real "internal" data to accidentally appear. The other, far more pessimistically inclined, believes that someone behind the scenes is trying to leak the real numbers, as "the "internal" data held by Beijing may not reflect the true extent of the epidemic."