Second, as Nature Biotechnology describes, molecular testing kits aren’t perfect. They can give false negatives, particularly if the virus sheds at different times and if non-ideal clinical specimens are collected. Given how quickly they were manufactured, the tests themselves can be flawed, such as the CDC’s kit.

Third, authoritarian countries like China and Iran routinely lie about infectious disease. China has a history of lying (e.g., about SARS and HIV), and Iran is probably lying right now.

Once again, if we assume that the case-fatality rate is roughly 2%, the global death toll of 2,867 would suggest at least 143,350 cases — far higher than the current official count of 83,867. However, if the case-fatality rate is lower than 2%, as many epidemiologists suspect that it is, then the virus has spread much further. For instance, if the case-fatality rate is 0.1%, the same as seasonal flu, then 2,867,000 people have been infected.