The pandemic, Africa’s worst if official statistics are to be trusted, has killed at least 65,000 people and plunged many more into destitution.

What does this to be trusted mean here?

Does it mean "can be trusted?" how would you paraphrase it?

  • 2
    'If official statistics are trustworthy'. Jul 24 at 9:27

They are implying that the figures may be inaccurate or unsubstantiated. But also they are saying that they could be correct but they have no way of verifying them. So it's a way of distancing themselves from any later issue over the exact numbers.


We can use these infintive phrases in "if" or "when" clauses:

If I am to play tennis, I want a new racket

If we are to eat the fish, we should cook it first.

These carry the sense of "If a decision is made that I play tennis", and implicitly, the decision hasn't yet been made and will depend on the conditions that are expressed.

These can have a passive infinitive form:

If the fish is to be eaten...


If the statistics are to be trusted...

means the same as

If we are to trust the statistics


If we decide to trust the statistics.

So the speaker is implying that the figure of 65,000 is possibly untrustworthy.

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