The Chinese government is underreporting the outbreak of the coronavirus in its country, the U.S. intelligence community concluded in a classified report to the White House, three U.S. officials confirmed to Bloomberg News Wednesday.
The officials were not at liberty to discuss the details of the secret report, which was sent to the White House last week, but confirmed that the upshot of the report is that “China’s public reporting on cases and deaths is intentionally incomplete.”
Two officials told the news outlet that the report confirms that the communist country’s publicly reported numbers are “fake.”
As of Wednesday, China had reported about 82,000 confirmed cases of the virus resulting in around 3,300 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. Those figures pale in comparison to the 190,000 cases and more than 4,000 deaths already recorded in the United States.
During a press briefing Tuesday, Dr. Deborah Birx, a leading health official on the White House coronavirus task force, said that China’s public reporting, or lack thereof, greatly influenced how the officials responded to the outbreak within America.
Birx argued that any lack of preparation from U.S. officials happened due to them “missing a significant amount of the data” from China.
Since the very start pandemic in Wuhan, China, earlier this year, many have suspected that the country was misleading the international community about the extent of outbreak.
On Tuesday, a Wall Street Journal report cited a top Chinese health official who admitted that the country was not reporting cases in which an individual tested positive but did not showcase any symptoms.
Only a day earlier, Bloomberg News reported on new photos of the outbreak’s initial epicenter, Wuhan, which suggest that the death toll there is far greater — possibly by tens of thousands — than what’s being reported.