A top World Health Organization (WHO) official on Wednesday said China is underreporting deaths from COVID-19 and called for more transparency about the scope of the country’s outbreak.
“We believe the current numbers being published from China underrepresent the true impact of the disease in terms of hospital admissions, in terms of ICU admissions, and particularly in terms of death,” said Mike Ryan, head of the WHO’s health emergencies program.
Ryan said China is using too narrow a definition of death attributable to COVID-19. According to WHO guidelines, COVID-19 should be listed if the disease “caused, or is assumed to have caused, or contributed to death.”
“We still do not have complete data,” Ryan said. “We do not discourage doctors and nurses reporting these deaths or these cases.”
Ryan added that even though there don’t appear to be any new variants circulating in the country, poor surveillance and poor vaccine coverage will lead to missed cases and more deaths.