Last Thursday, officials in Hubei Province, a nuisance of a coronavirus outbreak in China, reported that about 15,000 additional patients were infected with the virus in a single day. The World Health Organization released a much lower number: 1,826.
The discrepancy refers to how medical professionals diagnose the virus.
Both formulations included “lab-confirmed” cases of the disease’s official name COVID-19, which by Monday had grown to more than 51,000 globally.
But China has also been involved in “clinically confirmed” cases that, when included, raise the global total to over 70,000.
If a case is laboratory confirmed, it means that the patient’s upper respiratory tract samples had the genetic makeup of the virus. Clinical confirmations are less accurate because they depend on assessment of symptoms and lung imaging.
Which number is correct? Director of the Center for Infection and Immunity at Columbia University, Drs. Ian Lipkin told CBS News that the clinical confirmation is not true, they are a useful remedy because the virus has symptoms like pneumonia in patients near the epicenter. anxiety. They are also helpful, as investigators are not fully equipped with reliable laboratory testing at this stage.
Dr., the executive director of the Health Emergency Program for the World Health Organization. Michael Ryan said at a press conference on Monday that no diagnostic test is “foolproof”.
“There is always a small chance of a false positive or a false negative,” he said. “This is an important consideration and that’s why clinical skepticism … is always so important.”
It is also likely that the actual number of cases exceeds the laboratory and is clinically confirmed. “We don’t know the denominator, we don’t know how many people are infected with this virus that never comes to the attention of the health system,” he said. Lipkin said clinical confirmation is valuable because health care workers can start identifying the difference between viruses and similar common diseases such as the flu or pneumonia.
A WHO spokesperson told CBS News on Monday that going forward, the organization will report the cases as they are reported by Chinese authorities, regardless of how they are confirmed.
Following this guidance, CBS News is reporting confirmed cases that match the data reported by WHO.