Japanese Man's Death in Wuhan Diagnosed as Viral Pneumonia But Not Coronaivrus

Posted on February 8, 2020

Japan's foreign embassy issued a statement yesterday that a Japanese man suffering from pneumonia in a Wuhan hospital has died. The man's death was diagnosed in China as viral pneumonia. It was not recorded as coronavirus which was highly likely to be the cause of his viral pneumonia.

The death being recorded in this manner seems to confirm suspicions that deaths in China from the coronavirus could be going unreported. There have been other reports on Chinese social media accounts by people saying their relatives died in Wuhan hospitals with viral pneumonia as the cause of death. A recent Wall Street Journal stories says families have described between information from their doctors and death certificates.

But just how many cases are there with death certificates listing viral pneumonia instead of coronavirus? If there are a significant number of deaths being listed as viral pneumonia instead of coronavirus it could make the disease appear less dangerous then it actually is. On the hand, there are likely also many people with mild cases of coronavirus that are also not being recorded. If there are tons of unreported mild cases the disease could appear more dangerous because the statistics will be skewed to the more severe cases.

Without precise information it is difficult to ascertain how severe the disease is. We know it is severe because there have been over 700 deaths and there are currently over 6,000 patients with severe/critical cases according to the latest numbers but we don't have a very good grasp of the fatality rate.

A Reuters story quotes a few experts suggesting that the fatality rate of the disease could be exaggerated because of many unreported mild cases. For example, people with a mild case may never seek help or go to the hospital and never be tested. Hopefully, this will turn out to be true but because at least some deaths are being attributed incorrectly we are left in the dark for now.

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Image: IVDC, China CDC via GISAID

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