China Pneumonia Outbreak: WHO Says No New Pathogens Found

    Photo: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

    The Facts

    • The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported that China has detected no unusual or novel pathogens connected to the recent spike in respiratory illnesses and child pneumonia infections across the country.

    • This comes days after National Health Commission officials reported that respiratory diseases had spiked in China, crediting the rise in flu-like ailments to the lifting of COVID curbs and the circulation of known pathogens, including SARS-CoV-2.

    The Spin

    Pro-China narrative

    The enthusiasm Chinese health authorities have shown in providing the WHO with the requested data on the recent spike in illnesses is welcome. China complied with international rules and responded to the WHO's request within 24 hours. Adding to the good news is the conclusion from the data that no unusual or novel pathogens have been detected in this surge. Some expected uptick in illness aside, there's little to be alarmed about, at least for now.

    Anti-China narrative

    The fact that authoritarian China chose secrecy and inaction over transparency during COVID makes the world jittery about any untoward healthcare developments in the country. Beijing's choices amid that outbreak worsened global response to the eventual pandemic. Even in this latest instance, records show that it took China five months to report the surge after its hospitals first recorded a rise in illnesses. The world needs to remain on its toes regarding Chinese healthcare.

    Nerd narrative

    There's a 48% chance that at least two public health agencies will claim before 2025 that China deliberately misreported COVID-19 infections, according to the Metaculus prediction community.

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