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Leaked documents suggest China mishandled COVID-19 situation in early stages: Report

The 117 pages of leaked documents marked "internal document, please keep confidential," from the Hubei Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention obtained by CNN outlined lowballing COVID-19 data.

December 01, 2020 / 07:59 PM IST

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Leaked documents from China suggest the country may have mismanaged the COVID-19 situation in the early stages through misleading public data and delays in diagnosing new cases.

The 117 pages of leaked documents marked "internal document, please keep confidential," from the Hubei Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention obtained by CNN outlined lowballing COVID-19 data.

The document listed a total of 5,918 newly detected cases on February 10, more than double the official number of confirmed cases on the day, breaking down the total into a variety of subcategories.

The document, which CNN verified via six independent experts, revealed how the region struggled to manage the coronavirus outbreak between October 2019 and April 2020. It showed what appeared to be an inflexible health care system constrained by top-down bureaucracy and rigid procedures that were ill-equipped to deal with the emerging crisis.

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A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

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The files clearly showed evidence of clear missteps and point to a pattern of institutional failings at several critical moments in the early phase of the pandemic, said the report.

It revealed inconsistencies between what officials knew at the start of the outbreak and what they publicly reported, as per the report.

“It was clear they did make mistakes — and not just mistakes that happen when you are dealing with a novel virus — also bureaucratic and politically-motivated errors in how they handled it,” Yanzhong Huang, a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations, told the publication.

Since the outbreak of the contagion, its origin has been linked to the wet market in Wuhan. However, battling global adversity over the coronavirus and bracing for a WHO inquiry over its origin, China has recently claimed that just because COVID-19 cases were first reported in Wuhan does not mean the contagion originated from the central Chinese city. The reason for the origin of the virus remains unknown, though.

Follow our full coverage on COVID-19 here.
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first published: Dec 1, 2020 12:58 pm

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