About 80% of China’s population has been infected with Covid-19 since restrictions were lifted in early December, according to Chinese health officials.
That number equates to about 1.2 billion people, but since it can’t be verified by outside agencies, some pandemic experts believe more than a million people may have died, well above the government’s official tally of about 72,000. I have come to assume that there is.
A wave of Omicron cases engulfed China after the government abruptly ended its Covid-free policy last December and lifted restrictions just before the start of the Chinese New Year and Spring Festival. ) said about 80% of the country’s 1.41 billion people were infected with the wave.
In the week leading up to the Lunar New Year, the CDC reported 12,658 deaths, bringing the official pandemic death toll to around 60,000, which most observers believe is far below the true figure. I’m here. The official death toll from the wave was reported to be less than 60 of her, until a much larger update earlier this month.
The data collection process was quickly overwhelmed by the rising number of cases in December. Combined with the narrow definition of Covid-caused deaths, official tallies soon seemed far below reality on the ground, and the government was accused by the WHO of lacking data transparency.
Beijing has rejected the charges and defended its zero-Covid policy and its sudden dismantling.Some health officials acknowledge data discrepancies but say now is the time to focus on the health response .
Data and transparency concerns have caused experts to look for other ways to estimate the impact of the outbreak.
Professor Robert Bowie, an infectious disease pediatrician at the University of Sydney, said the death toll was likely between 600,000 and 1 million. He said the virus was probably spreading far more widely than was recognized before the lifting of restrictions.
“China may have ended its Covid-zero policy in the first week of December, but it probably has already failed,” he said. “In 2022, China lost its population for the first time since the Great Leap Forward, dropping by 850,000. They will lose at least that number in the coming weeks of Covid. He is a very elderly person who has not received medical attention.
Dr. Xi Chen, an associate professor of health policy and economics at Yale University, said no one had enough data to accurately measure China’s death toll, but the lowest fatality rate of 0.11% was A conservative assumption of the rate of death suggests about 1.23 million deaths. people were dead.
“Of course, this assumes that China has medical resources like South Korea or New Zealand,” he added.
Professor Antoine Flahort, Director of the Institute for Global Health at the University of Geneva, estimates based on excess mortality (all-cause deaths above average) in other countries that have passed the first wave of COVID-19. Did. .
“Take Hong Kong, for example, these days it has an excess mortality rate of about 2,000 deaths per million people. Translating that rate to China translates to just under 3 million deaths.” He said, adding a warning that China’s healthcare system has not been developed as consistently as that elsewhere, including Hong Kong.
“Take Brazil, for example, that number is closer to 4,000 per million, so double that,” Frahoult says.
James Trauer, head of the epidemiological modeling department at Monash University, said it’s not clear how China’s CDC was able to come up with the 80% figure given data collection issues. , cautioned against making estimates early in the wave.
The CDC notice said vacation travel could spread the virus further in the short-term, but with so many people already infected, it could lead to a “massive epidemic rebound or nationwide spread.” A second wave of the epidemic is very unlikely.”
Trauer warned against thinking that the Omicron wave brought high levels of herd immunity. “Australia had a big first wave of BA1 last summer, followed quickly by a second wave of BA2 within a few months. I don’t think they should assume that,” he said.
“Perhaps the most important thing from China’s point of view at this time is to better manage the epidemic and increase resources to treat those who get sick.”