Trade data doesn’t show we knew about Covid in 2018 – Full Fact


An Instagram post shows a screenshot of data on Covid-19 test exports dating from 2018, suggesting the disease was known about before it was reported to have emerged in late 2019.

This is not true and the confusion arises due to the fact that the website changed the name of a number of medical diagnostic test exports to “COVID-19 Diagnostic Test” once the pandemic had begun. We’ve written about this before.

The data comes from the World Integrated Trade Solutions (WITS) website, run by the World Bank.

The World Bank told Reuters that prior to April 2020, these products with the code number 902780 were labelled in terms which did not reference Covid, but in April 2020 the name was changed to “COVID-19 Diagnostic Test instruments and apparatus”. The World Bank said this was done because of “ the newfound importance of these products in diagnosing and treating COVID-19.”

It added that the name was later changed back to “Medical Diagnostic Test instruments and apparatus” due to these sorts of misinterpretations and “to make it clear that these were products that predated COVID-19.”

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