Official data on COVID-19 released by a province in China offered a brief glimpse of what could be the true death toll from the disease in that country. The Zhejiang government revealed that the number of cremations increased to 171,000 in the first quarter of 2023, which is 72,000 more than the same period last year, when strict COVID mandates were still in place.
Although the information released by the local government, deleted two days later, does not specify the causes of deaths, researchers regularly use excess mortality statistics to estimate the impact of major events, such as disasters and pandemics. Therefore, experts assured that the data allow for estimates of how many people died from the virus.
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Ben Cowling, Hong Kong University epidemiologist, explained that the number of deaths would coincide with estimates made at the beginning of the year by experts consulted by The New York Times. "I’m not sure the impact would have been exactly the same in every province, but I think it would be useful for a rough extrapolation. It’s consistent with the estimates of around 1.5 million" Cowling said.
The Chinese communist regime has officially recognized only 83,700 deaths from the disease. However, expert estimates state that millions more deaths are likely. For example, a February NYT investigation detailed that, "two months after China ended 'zero covid,' rough estimates suggest that at least 1.5 million people died, far more than the official count."
China is the country where COVID-19 originated, and since it informed the world of the first death from the disease, in the city of Wuhan, it handled data during the pandemic with great opacity.