Since before March, the White House was being warned by the C.I.A. about a possible understatement of the COVID-19 infections by China. They are of the opinion that the Chinese toll cannot be considered reliable as the US is compiling predictive models to attack the virus.
The intelligence briefings in past weeks based partly on C.I.A. assets in China were imperative in the President’s negotiations on Thursday with the Chinese president.
The availability of a more accurate Chinese toll of the virus infections and deaths is vital to the rest of the world at the moment in projecting the spread and its speed as well as other important questions. For the US too, the final tolls are fundamental in assuming the effect the virus will have on the country in the coming months, in terms of economy, social behavior, and as well as the effectiveness of the different measures imposed on people.
Despite however critical the final totals are, the authorities have been unable to obtain more accurate numbers, to the disappointment of the White House. China has reported more than 82,000 cases and 3,326 deaths which is about half that of the U.S. However, American intelligence agencies are of the opinion that even the Chinese government is unaware of the effect of the virus just like the rest of the countries.
This is a crucial situation and the fact that no reliable records are available for reference in order to take precautionary action, is a critical issue. Intelligence officials say that the authorities from Wuhan, the place of origin of the virus, have been hiding the truth about the numbers in fear that reporting higher numbers will lose them their pension or subject them to punishment.
Many of the affected countries have been forced to take extreme measures such as lockdowns. This has completely altered the lifestyles of people around the world. Another fact to be taken into consideration is that however crucial these measures are, long-term practice of such measures are not socially, economically, physically or mentally healthy.
Given this kind of a situation, a complete image of the virus is not available anywhere to be used in analysis of the current situation in other countries.