14. Will there be more than 25 million confirmed COVID cases in China by the end of 2023?
57%
chance

Based on https://ourworldindata.org/covid-cases

This is question #14 in the Astral Codex Ten 2023 Prediction Contest. The contest rules and full list of questions are available here. Market will resolve according to Scott Alexander’s judgment, as given through future posts on Astral Codex Ten.

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BTE avatar
BTE
is predicting YES at 47%

Getting closer. China CDC top scientist says two thirds of the country has gotten Covid. Still think they aren’t going to acknowledge 25 million cases for the rest of 2023?!?

AlQuinn avatar

@BTE Infections are not cases, so an official here or there can admit to high infection rates but that not be reflected in any official case numbers, in particular, those based on OWiD which is what determines the resolution of this question.

Do you know where OWiD gets its case numbers for China? As far as I can tell, they come from the Johns Hopkins covid tracker via api calls or somesuch. And where does Johns Hopkins get its case data? This purports to explain:
https://github.com/CSSEGISandData/COVID-19
However, two of the Chinese sources are struck out and the other (based on a translation of the text that comes up) is defunct as well; see here:

https://news.qq.com/zt2020/page/feiyan.htm#/
It's turtles all the way down.

So there is maybe a specific spreadsheet somewhere (hard to say!) where a Chinese bureaucrat has to type in a number and that gets posted somewhere, scraped by JHU, then grabbed by OWiD and then we have a case for the purposes of the question.

Let's assume some lackey is typing a number into a spreadsheet--this number needs to average 68,500 per day over all of 2023 for the question to resolve as YES. How many times has this happened so far? Once, on November 29th (during a time when infections were easily 1-10M per day!).

Other countries like Japan are mulling categorizing covid as something like a flu. There is diminished drive to bugger around with cases and spreadsheets. This resolves as NO!

BTE avatar
BTE
is predicting YES at 47%

@AlQuinn Good luck. 11.5 more months though before it can resolve NO. It can resolve YES any time between now and then. I feel really good about YES.

AlQuinn avatar
Al Quinn
bought Ṁ15 of NO

@BTE By that logic, you should bet on a YES position for any question that can resolve as YES for a singular reason. In this case (pun intended!) I don't see any motivation for the CCP to officially report cases when their reporting apparatus historically was based on a covid-zero policy with abundant testing. And if they do, why not dump the cases into Dec 2022 so that 2023 looks great? In any case, the focus now is on economic recovery, which entails whistling and looking the other way on all matters covid.

Maybe the more dovish foreign policy position they have taken might obliquely encourage a reporting dump. For instance, China is trying to cleave Europe from the relatively hard-line US anti-China stance, and if anyone loves bureaucratic spreadsheets, it's Europe! However, I assign a low probability to this being a route towards the sort of data reconciliation that would be relevant for this question's specific criterion.

whenhaveiever avatar
Cornelius Grass
is predicting YES at 47%

@BTE Since this is part of Scott Alexander's annual set of predictions, I wouldn't expect resolution until his end-of-year lookback in early 2024 where he grades his previous predictions and makes a set of new predictions.

BTE avatar
BTE
bought Ṁ500 of YES

@whenhaveiever I mean it can meet the YES criteria anytime because obviously there have been way more than enough cases already. It’s just a matter of making them “official”.

BTE avatar
BTE
bought Ṁ1,000 of YES

When Zero Covid was still in effect it made sense for them to suppress any new cases. Now that Xi is out giving speeches about how concerned he is about rural villagers getting covid over the Chinese New Year it makes sense for them to acknowledge new cases at some point, probably when they can claim to have gotten control finally. You guys betting NO are essentially betting on Xi being willing to pretend nobody got sick for 49 more weeks since this doesn't close until the end of the year. You don't think he is going to say something like "I held everything together despite hundreds of millions of cases". Of course he is. Probably at the March People's Congress when the new politburo starts. In the meantime please keep giving me your mana...

NuñoSempere avatar
Nuño Sempere
bought Ṁ1,000 of NO

Market seems uninformed, and I disagree with the comment below that "it is only a matter of time before they report it officially", since I think that China can continue to fudge numbers essentially forever. I find it curious that the market is so confident in a course correction.

For reference, the link to resolution is <https://ourworldindata.org/explorers/coronavirus-data-explorer?zoomToSelection=true&time=2020-03-01..latest&facet=none&pickerSort=desc&pickerMetric=new_cases_smoothed_per_million&Metric=Confirmed+cases&Interval=Cumulative&Relative+to+Population=false&Color+by+test+positivity=false&country=~CHN&hideControls=true" loading="lazy" style="width: 100%; height: 600px; border: 0px none>.

Since the beginning of the year, China has reported an additional 0.06M cases. Multiplying this out by 24 gives 1.44M cases, which falls short of question resolution.

PeterWildeford avatar
Peter Wildeford
is predicting NO at 35%

@NuñoSempere Don't tell them this - you make it harder to load up on lots of cheap no

NuñoSempere avatar
Nuño Sempere
is predicting NO at 39%

@PeterWildeford Ehh, I find the social aspect fun:
- I prefer collaborative truth seeking to individualist
- There is a chance that I am wrong, and we could fight it out
- Will BTE update? Or will he throw good money after bad?
- Being known to be transparent makes it easier to unload my shares sooner
- ...

PeterWildeford avatar
Peter Wildeford
sold Ṁ156 of NO

@NuñoSempere (Sorry - I'm just teasing I think it's totally fine and fun for you to tell people this)

BTE avatar
BTE
is predicting YES at 40%

@NuñoSempere I think it’s wrong to think that the Chinese can fudge numbers forever. I also think 100,000 cases is nothing to them so even if they do continue to suppress true totals, reporting just 1 percent of cases will resolve this YES. Additionally, when the CCP stopped reporting daily cases they stated they would shift reporting to a different dept (just like the US did at the same stage realizing we didn’t have the right infrastructure in place) and will resume public reporting for research purposes. What exactly is your reasoning for why Xi will decide to not report any cases at any point, even a fraction of cases? They have already updated official death count to just under 60,000. How exactly is Xi going to save face if he just pretends nothing happened?? If he does that he is as good as done as president. He needs to save face by touting his accomplishments relative to other world leaders limiting deaths relative to cases. We should expect them to report at least 100x as many cases as they report deaths, don’t you think? Pretty sure they aren’t pleased with their official death rate and the best way to improve that is to report millions of cases. How does Xi strengthen his position as the People’s Leader by not reporting any new cases while he is reporting new deaths???

BTE avatar
BTE
is predicting YES at 40%

@NuñoSempere Haha, got confused which market we were on. 25 million still ain’t nothing. The leading epidemiologists in China are estimating 900mm and like I said the CCP has said they will release new numbers for researchers, specifically these guys predicting 900mm SO FAR. Before Chinese New Years and the largest migration on Earth even starts…

BTE avatar
BTE
is predicting YES at 40%

@NuñoSempere Like, unless there are hundreds of millions of cases how does Xi defend 3 years of Covid Zero? What was the purpose? This is one situation where transparency actually works to the CCPs interests and censorship is an impossibility without losing face. Kind of a big deal there, no??

MattCWilson avatar
Matt C. Wilson
is predicting YES at 43%

It seems to me that the bigger “technicality” here is that I find it hard to believe Scott would choose a 25M target figure if he weren’t already thinking of the conventional understanding of COVID cases - # of infections.

And so while I fully understand that the OWID data isn’t that, at the moment, I can easily envision them amending their data (and preserving a separate, related data set for the current data) as soon as a reputable Chinese data source emerges. And/or, even if OWID does not, enough people might prevail on Scott to stick to the spirit of the question if there’s sufficiently reputable infection count data out of China available.

MattCWilson avatar
Matt C. Wilson
is predicting YES at 43%

@MattCWilson In other words, a NO position seems entirely contingent on an extremely literal interpretation of the question-as-written.

BTE avatar
BTE
is predicting YES at 43%

@MattCWilson Individual provincial authorities have already reported many more than 25mm cases. They have done so publicly. Eventually all these provinces get added up and reported to OWID.

BTE avatar
BTE
is predicting YES at 43%

@MattCWilson Notably, the central government hasn’t censored those provincial reports. That says a lot IMO.

BTE avatar
BTE
is predicting YES at 41%

@NuñoSempere They DID NOT report additional .06M cases, they reported .06M DEATHS. HUGE DIFFERENCE.

BTE avatar
BTE
bought Ṁ0 of YES

China has now "officially" reported 60,000 Covid deaths since they ended the Zero Covid policy. This means it is more like 600,000 because they do not count deaths like everyone else. It also means that 25 million cases has long ago been past and it is only a matter of time before they report it "officially".

BTE avatar
BTE
bought Ṁ1,000 of YES

The way they report this means 60,000 HEALTHY people died of Covid. They do not count any deaths that have other potential causes. For example, if a diabetic dies with Covid they won't count it because of the comorbidity. They only count deaths where Covid is the only possible cause. That makes 60,000 STAGGERINGLY HUGE.

BTE avatar
BTE
is predicting YES at 54%

China had also reported hospitalizations going back to the beginning of December. 2.86mm were recorded on 12/23 alone. There were 1.2mm still hospitalized as of 1/12.

belikewater avatar
belikewater
bought Ṁ50 of NO

I don't really get the point of this question. Why is it interesting whether China reports 25M cases by the end of 2023? It's far below actual cases so far in 2023.

It's not clear to me which way this will go. Only ~60k cases have been reported in 2023 so far, in the midst of a Covid explosion. Will many cases be back reported? Will most cases no longer be be tested? If they're not reporting cases now, in the middle of a gigantic surge, can we expect many more cases to be reported later? Maybe I'll change my mind, but I suspect 25M cases won't be reported by the end of 2023.

MattCWilson avatar
Matt C. Wilson
is predicting YES at 66%

@belikewater We could ask @ScottAlexander for clarification.But maybe not until after Full Mode completes, since the Blind Mode folks would not have been able to benefit?

jack avatar
Jack
bought Ṁ50 of NO

I completely agree that this question is largely about data reporting.

I don't think the question is ambiguous. The resolution criteria are clear.

jack avatar
Jack
is predicting NO at 69%

Sorry, I meant that it's unambiguous that it's about reported case counts by a specific data source. There is ambiguity about when to check the data source, which could be important, but I don't think it's likely to matter that much.

belikewater avatar
belikewater
is predicting NO at 67%

@jack @MattCWilson I agree that the question isn't ambiguous, beyond when the data source will be accessed for question resolution. My question is rhetorical. Why bother asking whether China will report some arbitrarily low number of cases when hundreds of millions have actually had Covid recently? I'm just commenting that to me, there are more meaningful questions to ask. This question has a straightforward data source for resolution, but it would be worth it to look for a less readily available source to ask what seem to me to be more important questions, including what percentage of China will have had Covid by the end of 2023, and how many will have died?

MattCWilson avatar
Matt C. Wilson
is predicting YES at 61%

@belikewater I would confirm with Scott, but my guess is that we got here because he took his Predictions for 2022, kept any that were worth keeping, and then adjusted them to new targets while keeping resolution criteria the same. So, since question 32 was looking for 100K cases by the official count from the Chinese government, so is this question, with a (at the time) more plausible sounding target.

https://open.substack.com/pub/astralcodexten/p/predictions-for-2022-contest

Obviously this got blown out of the water nearly immediately by all reasonable outside estimation. And yet, here we are.

BTE avatar
BTE
is predicting YES at 62%

@jack I disagree. It says it will resolve according to Scott Alexander’s best judgement and nobody could credibly say there haven’t been 25 million cases in China confirmed by at least some government agency.

BTE avatar
BTE
is predicting YES at 62%

@belikewater I completely agree. This question has zero predictive value. Who cares how many cases the government acknowledges?!? Stupid question.

egroj avatar
JAAM
is predicting NO at 62%

@BTE but without an official "good" count, it's either resolving with the official "bad" count, or resolving N/A, no?

DesTiny avatar
DesTiny
bought Ṁ45 of NO

amognus

BTE avatar
BTE
is predicting YES at 62%

This question has literally nothing to do with Covid. It’s a question about censorship masked as a question about Covid. What if Xi gives a speech acknowledging ‘hundreds of millions of cases’ at some point?? How would that impact the resolution?

egroj avatar
JAAM
is predicting NO at 60%

@BTE I think the key here is the word "confirmed", that only allows to resolve with an official count IMO

BTE avatar
BTE
is predicting YES at 60%

@egroj That’s fine. It should use a different official count then. It could be a leaked internal CCP document. That is probably the most accurate info possible in China.

BTE avatar
BTE
bought Ṁ100 of YES

@egroj I would like your definition of “an office good count” vs “official bad count”.

egroj avatar
JAAM
is predicting NO at 43%

@BTE I would also like a definition, but I think it would be subjective. Official for me would be whatever China reports to WHO. If they report a couple of thousand cases only while there are (unofficial) reports of hospitals collapsing and thousands dying I would say it's a bad count, but someone else could not believe the reports and think otherwise

NuñoSempere avatar
Nuño Sempere
bought Ṁ2,000 of NO

I disagree. It says it will resolve according to Scott Alexander’s best judgement and nobody could credibly say there haven’t been 25 million cases in China confirmed by at least some government agency.

@BTE , I see how you could think that. However, in <https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSengVfY43SZHUD1jue24yKRyqOM4MawwYVUqhHukxtnKXKADA/viewform>

14. Will there be more than 25 million confirmed COVID cases in China?

Based on https://ourworldindata.org/covid-cases

In light of this, you may want to unwind your position while you still can. FWIW, 15% seems like a fair price to me.

ahalekelly avatar
Adrian
is predicting NO at 82%

Cumulative case count went down?

IsaacKing avatar

@ahalekelly It's the new negative Covid variant taking over.

BTE avatar
BTE
is predicting YES at 75%

From Wang Xiangwei's Thought of the Day:

"On Friday, the coastal city of Qingdao (population of 9 million) in Shandong province estimated that up to 530,000 people were affected every day and the rate of the spread would continue on the base by 10 per cent on Friday and Saturday. Ren Botao, head of the local health commission warned that the worst was yet to come as the city was in the stage of infections fast spreading before the high incidences of Covid-caused illnesses kicked in."

"Meanwhile, in Dongguan (population of 7.5 million) of Guangdong province, local health officials estimated the daily number of new infections at between 250,000 and 300,000 people and the rate of Covid’s spread was gathering pace. They said the hospitals and medical staff were faced with “unprecedented” challenges and pressure as over 2500 doctors and nurses came to work while still running a fever or testing positive."

BTE avatar
BTE
is predicting YES at 75%

@ShakedKoplewitz It doesn't really matter if the central government lies because they still make up more than enough cases in just a few large cities to resolve this market YES before Chinese New Year. And more importantly, you are misreading the actions taken by the Chinese government this week regarding reporting of cases and deaths. The are basically doing the same thing we did in the West and reorganizing the reporting structure once their realized their legacy protocols weren't up to he scale and speed of the virus.

ShakedKoplewitz avatar
Shaked Koplewitz
is predicting NO at 86%

@BTE so far ourworldindata is still going by CCP figures though - if they change their data collection methods provincial announcements will matter, but they aren't so far. And the CCP is still claiming to have single digit daily case numbers per million - this is outside the range of "bad testing protocols unsuited for the current level of spread" being a plausible explanation, they're just flat out lying, and I don't see why they'd stop.

BTE avatar
BTE
is predicting YES at 83%

@ShakedKoplewitz You think the CCP doesn't realize that it undermines their credibility both at home and abroad to not fix their reporting issues? How does Xi Jinping justify two plus years of Covid Zero if he ends the policy and then pretends nobody got Covid?? If they do what you suggest they will do it will be the end of the CCP.

ShakedKoplewitz avatar
Shaked Koplewitz
is predicting NO at 83%

@BTE I don't think the CCP believe that being dishonest undermines them (at least, I don't believe it with probability>80%).

BTE avatar
BTE
bought Ṁ100 of YES

@ShakedKoplewitz I think your assertion has limits. Most of the time the truth is what they say it is, but when you can't censor information because it spreads like a literal virus lying becomes unworkable if you hope to retain credibility. Zero Covid was the information control mechanism and that is gone now.

ShakedKoplewitz avatar
Shaked Koplewitz
bought Ṁ55 of NO

I'm quite sure they'll have that number of cases, but our world in data seems to be going with Chinese government reports, which seem to be pretty determined to lie about the numbers.

BTE avatar
BTE
sold Ṁ451 of YES

https://www.reuters.com/world/china/chinas-national-health-commission-stop-publishing-daily-covid-figures-2022-12-25/ Here is an explicit, public statement by the provincial government in Zhejiang that they have 1mm cases/day.

JamieCrom avatar
jamie
bought Ṁ682 of YES

scott alexander has committed his entire life to convincing as many tech nerds as possible that white supremacy is good. if this market is resolved on his judgement, its as good as Resolved YES already. he'll find some way to spin his resolution criteria to favor his racist agenda. count on it.

Yoav avatar
Yoav
is predicting YES at 80%

@JamieCrom Do you mind explaining?

IsaacKing avatar

@JamieCrom Feel free to provide evidence for your assertion.

L avatar
L

@JamieCrom so, I understand why you'd think that, it seems possible to me that he secretly has that intention, but my sense is that he's a classical liberal who has been convinced by closeted fascists to support some of their key talking points loudly, and does not himself endorse their implications with those talking points; the damage he's done that way seems to me to come primarily from propagating the agency of fascists, a common problem with the way the classical liberal perspective allows agency laundering by nature of liberal-in-the-middle patterns that hide the agency of an activist authoritarian. but scott also isn't stupid, and for the most part it doesn't seem like he's gone off the deep end; he still, as far as I can tell, thinks all humans including people of color should in fact flourish, he's not, as far as I can tell, the "yell all lives matter" type; he has principles, those principles are just not sufficient to defend against authoritarianism, and he gets into eugenics discussions without sufficient care to downvote the bad. But, as I hope is clear from this message, I mean neither to defend him nor lampoon him. people with principles like his can be convinced to do terrible things, as long as an authoritarian can convince them that the prejudice against a weaker group is truly justified by circumstance. So, again, you might be right, and I wouldn't put it off the table entirely, but I think 1 in 20 chance that he is in fact activist fash seems about right to me. that's approximately my prior in the general population right now, after all.

BTE avatar
BTE
is predicting YES at 85%

@JamieCrom your comments are by far the most divisive of anyone I have seen on this site so far.

JamieCrom avatar
jamie
is predicting YES at 85%

@IsaacKing im thinking about ways to assert. im musing about ways to assert. among most people i know its pretty common knowledge though.

L avatar
L

@JamieCrom so like yeah same but also please read my comments in the other thread, if he's agentically white supremacist then that is a lot worse than I've heard, and I really want to be warned if so, but also if we can discuss how to describe this to him my suspicion is he could be convinced to ponder what his take on it is enough that he comes out with some thing that clearly (to his audience, though probably not to me or you) denounces the things about white supremacy he thinks are bad; my sense is that, as what appears to me to be classical liberal views, he would prooobably exclude capitalism and imperialism, but that if he were to feel confident he could say what he feels and not be attacked for it (hopefully clear by now that "cancelling" is usually just people making posts online!) then maybe he'd come out visibly against some major components of racism by nature of, idk, proposing prosocial transhumanism.

if we can build advanced ai that can solve ~all problems, then we can nearly end much of competition - and so preserving all beings is quite plausible. that ought to be able to end capitalism and imperialism, but a lot of people think that we need those to get the rest of the way there; imo there's a shared inter-agent-safety structure between all of [capitalism, imperialism, authoritarianism, interpersonal-violence, rogue-ai, disease] and at such time as we identify the reward function that identifies the fix for all of these, it ought to be enough to convince a biodeterminist classical liberal that their white supremacist friends no longer need to stay correct-by-default, and that we can fix any scale of issue with the ai by repair.

but if he's secretly actually agentically white supremacist, in that he will try to make the world more white supremacist of his own accord if given the chance, then that would invalidate my expectations I have right now.

again, most things he could post wouldn't convince me, because a common problem in the world right now is a few activist white supremacists in a community convincing their classical liberal (or even libertarian!) friends to echo what are effectively arguments for authoritarianism and hyper-racism, but out of context, the classical liberal wouldn't feel they're endorsing those things, and so wouldn't normally think to explain to the authoritarian-sympathetic people in the classical liberal writer's audience what's wrong with the authoritarian racist approach. the classical liberal feels they're not at fault for their friends' assholery; the problem for the rest of the world is that the classical liberal doesn't do enough third-party-tit-for-tat in solidarity with the victims of the racist, not that the classical liberal is themselves agentically hyper-racist. usually, anyway. problem is, of course, activist racists often claim to be classical liberals, so despite the lower number of highly activist racists, you can only be sure by watching behavior. and that's what your commentary could help with.

L avatar
L

@L also, to be clear: classical liberals echoing their white supremacist friends without realizing does not give the classical liberals a pass for it, but it does mean that our response to our anger at their supporting threats by philosophically-considered obliviousness-to-harm should be very evenhanded and coordinated and fair - in our firmness, we should be confident in our solidarity, and thereby know we should not escalate beyond what asserting our collective boundaries can permit, so as to allow being able to use our bargaining power only by actions that are honorable in the shared values of liberation; I do think that there's a good thread to liberalism that constructive, domination-free third-party-generous-but-reliable-tit-for-tat-with-forgiveness anarchists should take with them when building prosocial bargaining argumentation and the solidarity to back it. he hasn't hurt anyone physically, to my knowledge, and as far as I know, he does make a lot of reasonably high quality posts, which are useful contributions; as is common among a certain type of creator, even if he's one of the ones that has active malice, he's still producing useful work, and I think we should verbally take him to task while also being clear that we will not escalate into unfair action.

of course, I also can only argue for what I believe; you cannot be controlled by my writing, and I hope that I have written honorably if confusingly 😅

IsaacKing avatar

I'll just note that this discussion might be better had on the Scott Alexander market, since I'm guessing people here on a market about China don't want to get notifications for this.

tailcalled avatar
tailcalled
is predicting NO at 83%

People who find @IsaacKing 's resolution criterion objectionable may want to bet in this market:

alangrow avatar
alan grow
is predicting YES at 69%

“Nearly 37 million people in China may have been infected with Covid-19 on a single day this week, according to estimates from the government’s top health authority.” https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-12-23/china-estimates-covid-surge-is-infecting-37-million-people-a-day

BTE avatar
BTE
bought Ṁ10 of YES

This has absolutely already happened. I am confident Scott will be able to resolve this sooner than later. Don’t expect it to stay open much past the Chinese new year if that long.

LachlanMunro avatar
Lachlan Munro
is predicting YES at 88%

@BTE says "confirmed" and is based on our world in data which has China at just over 1 million. So confirmed by the ccp is about what they decide to claim, not actual cases

BTE avatar
BTE
is predicting YES at 87%

@LachlanMunro This was confirmed by internal CCP government documents.

LachlanMunro avatar
Lachlan Munro
sold Ṁ45 of YES

@BTE yeah, internal is not what they report externally though right? I mean, 25 million has already happened. Everyone knows that

The question now is what the CCP officially and publicly puts in the data ourworldindata is using.

BTE avatar
BTE
is predicting YES at 87%

@LachlanMunro At least one province has publicly reported 500k cases per day. I don't see any reason to think the CCP won't eventually brag about how they managed a wave of a billion cases over 2-3 months or whatever. They incessantly bragged about the success of Zero Covid, it is foolish to think they won't do the same now.

LachlanMunro avatar
Lachlan Munro
is predicting NO at 82%

@BTE fair point. Bought in my yes at like 20% and then got unsure thinking the criteria through so took my profits.

BTE avatar

@LachlanMunro Did the same myself earlier tonight.