The COVID-19 outbreak in China has been rife with allegations of misrepresentation by Chinese government officials. These began at the local level, where officials in Hubei province potentially under-reported the magnitude of the outbreak in early January to Chinese central government authorities. A public health worker famously released a video around January 26 claiming that at that time, at least 90,000 cases had occurred--at the time the Chinese government was reporting fewer than 2000 infections. Since then, the insufficiently-inclusive strategy of counting only persons with laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 depressed the counts of probable cases. And the patterns of growth in the official counts follow an unexpected distribution, implying the counts may be generated by a model which doesn't accurately represent the dynamics of the disease's spread through the population.
This latter allegation is perhaps the most important and severe, as it means that estimations of epidemiological characteristics based on Chinese data may lead to public health interventions which do not reflect the reality of the viral spread. For example, if the R_0 (the average number of people an infected person will pass the virus along to) is underestimated, it may lead to insufficiently aggressive strategies for reducing the propagation of the virus across the globe. However, overestimating it could lead to overly-aggressive quarantining strategies, hobbling international commerce. Getting a proper assessment of the epidemiological dynamics is critical to devising the appropriate public health response.
Will at least two public health agencies publicly accuse the Chinese government of deliberately misrepresenting the number of COVID-19 infections before 2025?
This question will resolve as Yes if, before January 1, 2025, at least two of the public health agencies listed below claim that it is more likely than not that the Chinese government deliberately lied about, fabricated, or misrepresented case or death numbers. If an agency claims that the numbers were flawed, but does not go as far as to suggest deliberate lying or misrepresentation, this will not count. For the purpose of this question, we consider only statements by the following public health agencies:
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (including the Epidemic Intelligence Service)
- The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (including the Health Threat Unit)
- World Health Organization
- The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention
- The Centre for Health Protection
- Robert Koch Institute
- The National Institute of Infectious Diseases
- Public Health England
- The National Centre for Infectious Diseases
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Korea
- The Public Health Agency of Canada
In case multiple subdivisions of any of the above agencies make assessments that China more likely than not lied about case or death numbers, these will only count as single accusation made by a single agency.
The relevant assessments will count if they are judged by Metaculus to broadly state that it is more likely than not that the Chinese government deliberately did lie about, fabricate, or misrepresent case or death counts.
This question has a short-fuse sister.