Tackling the politicisation of COVID-19 data reporting through open access data sharing – The Lancet Infectious Diseases

“Regression analysis of country-specific death rates among 137 countries, showed that approximately 400?000 deaths were estimated to be unaccounted for during the first year of the pandemic, most likely among autocratic governments.

 During the early stages of the pandemic, the Chinese Government limited knowledge of the emerging disease and downplayed its severity. The Chinese Government did not allow the media to use terms like fatal and lockdown. Houthi rebels in Yemen relied on under-reporting cases to avoid accountability and maintain economic activity, leading to the reporting of only four COVID-19 cases and one death in the highly populated Sana’a City over the first year of the pandemic. Most countries report cases and deaths that are both probable and confirmed by testing. However, in Russia, only COVID-19 confirmed deaths are included in official counts, despite low supplies of PCR tests, leading to vast under-reporting of deaths. Similarly, some Brazilian hospitals have been implicated in the under-reporting of COVID-19 deaths in response to government pressure to avoid triggering the apparent need for lockdown measures. When official and aggregate sources were available, the JHU CSSE team overcame such challenges by implementing innovative anomaly detection processes and data fusion approaches in the data coalition process.

Political polarisation has threatened the reliability of data supplied by US Government agencies. The Trump White House Administration advised hospitals to send data on SARS-CoV-2 and intensive care unit capacities to a private company, bypassing the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Concerningly, a relationship was exposed between the private contractor and the Trump family’s corporation. The switch to sending data to a private contractor led to a hiatus in publicly available data from the US CDC. Moreover, the transition was accompanied by sporadic updates, with many irregularities in the data and inconsistencies in the definition of metrics from the contracted private company….”