16

Taiwan News reported the following on February 5:

As many experts question the veracity of China's statistics for the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak, Tencent over the weekend seems to have inadvertently released what is potentially the actual number of infections and deaths, which were astronomically higher than official figures, but are eerily in line with predictions from a respected scientific journal.

[...]

On late Saturday evening (Feb. 1), the Tencent webpage showed confirmed cases of the Wuhan virus in China as standing at 154,023, 10 times the official figure at the time. It listed the number of suspected cases as 79,808, four times the official figure.

The number of cured cases was only 269, well below the official number that day of 300. Most ominously, the death toll listed was 24,589, vastly higher than the 300 officially listed that day.

Were these numbers released by Tencent, and are they more accurate than the official figures?

  • 3
    Even if the Chinese government kept two separate sets of actual and official statistics on the Corona virus, why would a company like Tencent, which is an internet entertainment/ gaming company have access to the actual numbers? – quarague Feb 10 at 8:56
  • 1
    @quarague - Reason number one is that there is an internal power struggle going on within the CCP and different numbers are put out and then removed. Reason number two is that the official numbers are available but "not available." Meaning that a political operative takes the numbers and makes them politically correct (in the 1984 sense). – Mayo Feb 13 at 18:48
  • 1
    @Mayo You state that as a fact yet you have zero evidence to back it up. – dan-klasson Feb 21 at 21:30
  • @dan-klasson - PART 1: You're correct I have no direct proof that the CCP is in an internal power struggle. Conjecture No. 1 - there are always factions. Conjecture No.2 - nothing appears in official sources by mistake. Therefore if some CCP organizations are contradicting others (on a major issue such as the Covid19) then it's an indication of an internal power struggle. – Mayo Feb 24 at 13:59
  • 1
    @dan-klasson - PART 2: Do I have proof? No. We will never have proof until a) the CCP goes the way of the USSR and we access to internal documents b) Xi is replaced / convicted of mismanagement c) other, high-ranking officials are convicted of mismanagement.. (And C would not be proof positive either.) – Mayo Feb 24 at 14:00
13

The Tencent screenshot is almost certainly a hoax, for the simple reason that such screenshots are extremely easy to fake. For example, here's how easy it is to get a "screenshot" of the New York Times showing millions of people dead in Japan.

First, we search for coronavirus and pick a random article. Here's a good one:

undoctored new york times screenshot

Next, hit F12 to open up developer tools. Click the selector button. If you're using Chrome, it'll be in the upper left hand corner, like so:

developer tools selector

Once you've selected the selector, select the headline:

selected headline

Go back to developer tools, and you'll notice that the headline has been automated located in the page HTML for you:

headline html

Change it to something suitably apocalyptic:

doctored html

And bam, just like that, you have a screenshot of the New York Times accidentally leaking the horrible truth about the coronavirus:

fake new york times headline

So the question is, what's more likely - that, in a world filled with coronavirus hoaxes, someone took two minutes to make yet another hoax, or that the secret "real" coronavirus numbers somehow made their way onto a private company's content management system for their website?

I'm leaning toward the first.

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  • 3
    What is left to know is how many can corroborate to have seen Tencent's page with those high numbers. – CPHPython Feb 14 at 17:33
  • No body knows if it's true or not – user4951 Apr 4 at 13:10
-2

In a MedCram video entitled Coronavirus Epidemic Update 12: Unsupported Theories, Pneumonia, ACE2 & nCoV, pulmonologist Dr. Seheualt looks at the "leaked" numbers, and calculates the death ratio (deaths divided by confirmed cases) as around 16%.

He compares that to the experience with nCoV-2019 in Japan and Singapore, and suggests that the number of deaths is lower than would be expected if the leak was accurate expected.

(Sheheault performs no statistical analysis of the likelihood of these results, and does not consider if the ratio might be different due to the initial health or treatment regimes of the countries.)

He concludes that the leaked data is inaccurate.

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  • However, he did not consider that the date of the actual outbreak may not be the one being reported. – CPHPython Feb 10 at 15:49

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