Bertha Wang/Bloomberg via Getty Images
© 2023 Blaze Media LLC. All rights reserved.
The Chinese communist regime tried to cover up the outbreak of COVID-19 and has done its best in the intervening years to downplay the strong likelihood that the Wuhan lab — known for its dangerous gain-of-function experiments on coronaviruses — was the source of the virus that has killed millions worldwide.
The world has grown wise to both deceitful efforts. Now, it appears as though another narrative favored by Beijing is collapsing.
Whereas the Chinese regime suggested that the number of COVID-19 deaths inside China was under 90,000 since the beginning of the pandemic, the number is likely well into the millions — just for the first few months of this year.
As of Feb. 9, China's official COVID-19 death count was 83,150 deaths.
Researchers at the time suggested this figure was a gross undercount since it only included those infected with the virus who died in hospitals but not those who died at home, reported the New York Times.
According to the Guardian, beside requiring that COVID-19 deaths take place in hospitals to be counted, China also stipulated that only deaths caused by pneumonia and respiratory failure following a COVID infection would be counted, meaning sepsis and other complications associated with the virus didn't factor.
Zuo-Feng Zhang, chair of the epidemiology department at the Fielding School of Public Health at University of California, Los Angeles, told Time magazine in January the reported number was likely only "the tip of the iceberg."
On the basis of a report from Peking University, which indicated 64% of the Chinese population had been infected by mid-January, Zhang suggested 900,000 likely had died inside a window of just five weeks, presuming a conservative 0.1% case fatality rate.
Yong Cai, a demographer at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who studies mortality in China, told the Times that the official figure was "certainly an underreport of all [COVID] deaths. ... There's no question about that."
Shengjie Lai, an epidemiologist at the University of Southampton, intimated that with the hospitals overloaded and the ICU beds maxed out following the relaxation of China's "zero COVID" restrictions, many Chinese died outside of hospitals.
Earlier this year, the Times provided four estimates from academic teams concerning post-restriction death counts based on: 1) the Shanghai outbreak; 2) travel patterns; 3) recent testing data; and 4) American death rates. The estimates were 1.6 million, 970,000, 1.5 million, and 1.1 million deaths, respectively.
These stood in stark contrast not just with Beijing's official count but with the World Health Organization's claim that China has only seen 121,536 COVID-19 deaths since January 2020.
This week, official data briefly appeared on a provincial government website that hinted at the academic teams' estimates being in the right ballpark.
Cremation tallies were shared Thursday to the government website for the eastern Chinese province of Zhejiang, reported the Times.
While the data was only available briefly before being taken down, epidemiologists have since had an opportunity to pore over a cached version of the information.
They learned that cremations rose 70% in Zhejiang in Q1 2023 to 171,000 — 72,000 more than in the same period last year.
Ben Cowling, an epidemiologist at the University of Hong Kong, reckons that if the new data out of Zhejiang, which has a population of roughly 65.8 million people, is extrapolated to China's population of 1.4 billion, the death toll is nowhere near the official count but rather "consistent with the estimates of around 1.5 million."
Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Hong Kong reportedly also reached a rough estimate of roughly 1.54 million deaths from December 2022 through March on the basis of the cremation figures.
The Times further intimated that the cremation figures, coupled with substantial declines in life expectancy around China, are together indicative of untold carnage. If the real death count ever comes out of China, it will likely dwarf America's.Like Blaze News? Bypass the censors, sign up for our newsletters, and get stories like this direct to your inbox. Sign up here!
Want to leave a tip?
We answer to you. Help keep our content free of advertisers and big tech censorship by leaving a tip today.
Joseph MacKinnon is a staff writer for Blaze News.