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New York Times Uncritically Cites China’s COVID Data Claiming Country Had 1,000 Times Fewer Deaths Than U.S.

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The New York Times uncritically reported China’s official COVID-19 death rate and said that the country’s strategy has been effective in a Friday article.

“China’s strategy has had both major successes (holding deaths to low levels) and major costs,” the authors wrote, citing data from the Chinese government which claimed the country’s COVID-19 death rate per million was three, compared to 2,000 to 3,000 in the U.S. and EU.

The authors note that China responds to new outbreaks by imposing strict lockdowns, but they failed to mention new research from Johns Hopkins University which found that lockdowns had little or no impact on COVID-19 death ratesand in some cases actually drove an increase in COVID-19 mortality.

“Data coming out of China can be suspect, and local officials apparently undercounted Covid cases early in the pandemic to hide the scale of the outbreak,” the authors conceded. “But most experts believe the country’s official Covid counts have been at least close to accurate for most of the past two years,” they claimed.

China famously hid the initial spread of COVID-19 and told the rest of the world the disease could not be spread through human contact as it ravaged China’s own population in late 2019 and early 2020. The Chinese Communist Party failed to tell the World Health Organization (WHO) when the first novel coronavirus cases were detected, and the WHO reportedly delayed its declaration of a public health emergency because it would be “perceived negatively by China.”

A December 2020 report found that China may have underreported COVID-19 cases in Wuhan by a factor of ten.

“China’s strategy would obviously not be possible in a country that emphasizes individual rights as much as the U.S. does,” the NYT article said, “but China’s strategy does show what a society can do when it makes the prevention of Covid its No. 1 priority, almost regardless of the side effects.”

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