Beijing exposed? Leaked Coronavirus dataset offers insight into China's COVID-19 numbers

  • What is there in the data about China's Coronavirus?

  • The Chinese military-backed National University of Defense Technology made this Coronavirus dataset that was leaked recently

  • Is this data enough to contradict the Coronavirus numbers provided by Beijing?

As of now Chinese government has claimed that the novel Coronavirus which started as an outbreak in Wuhan, in December 2019 and then turned into a global pandemic has infected over 84,000 people and caused more than 4,600 deaths in all over the country.

But many experts and politicians claimed that the numbers presented by Beijing are not accurate. Finally, after months of speculations, a dataset of China's Coronavirus cases from the military's National University of Defense Technology was leaked that gives an insight into the actual scenario of the country.

As per the Foreign Policy, the anonymous source who leaked the data asked to keep his name secret due to the sensitivity of sharing Chinese military data. The source revealed that this dataset had come from the National University of Defense Technology, which has published a data tracker for the Coronavirus that shows just the map of cases, not the distinct data.

Leaked data from China


It should be noted that this newly leaked data may not be comprehensive to counter the Coronavirus numbers provided by China government but it is the most extensive dataset proved to exist on Coronavirus cases in the Asian country. However, as per the report, this dataset, which Beijing did not share with the world and healthcare experts, can serve as a valuable source of information for epidemiologists and public health experts around the world.

The data includes 640,000 updates of information, covering at least 230 cities that show the number of COVID-19 cases in specific locations at the time the data was gathered. These updates include latitude longitude and "confirmed" number of cases at the location between February and late April. For the locations like Wuhan, the initial epicenter of the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak in Hubei province, the data also showed the deaths cases and those who recovered from the COVID-19.

However, it is not clear how the creator of the dataset defined "confirmed" and "recovered", as China updated the counting methods. In mid-February, the officials from Hubei province reported a spike in Coronavirus cases as officials announced they were including patients diagnosed with CT scans.

What else we came to know from the dataset?

As per Foreign Policy, along with the hospitals, the dataset also includes the locations of apartment compounds, supermarkets, railway stations, hotels, restaurants, and schools in all over China. The data revealed that on March 14 a COVID-19 case was reported with a link to a KFC outlet in the city of Zhenjiang, while on March 17 a church in the northeastern provincial capital of Harbin noted two infections. But the data did not reveal the names of the patients or deceased people.

It should be mentioned that the university claimed to aggregate the data from China's health ministry, the National Health Commission, media reports, and other public sources. As per the website, the Chinese institution in the city of Changsha is currently "under the direct leadership of the Central Military Commission," which oversees China's military.

National University of Defense Technology
National University of Defense Technology Wikimedia commons

The man who has built this dataset appeared to be the director at the school's Information and Communication Department, Zhang Haisu who was appreciated by the university for building the "Fight the Virus to Return to Work Database", revealed a news release. The website also states that "Currently our country is taking forceful measures, and the epidemic situation is being strictly managed and controlled. Please correctly understand that to use the relevant data."

The transparency of China has become an issue since the outbreak and many people made several claims related to the so-called China Coronavirus cover-up. But we can't ignore the fact that 21 million cell phone accounts were canceled while 840,000 landlines were closed in China between December 2019 and mid-March 2020. Even though this revelation triggered the idea that probably these closed numbers belonged to the people who died due to the disease, still Beijing authorities have not given any clarification on this matter.

Related topics : Coronavirus