New Covid model predicts over a million deaths in China

CHICAGO: China’s abrupt lifting of tough Covid-19 restrictions could lead to an explosion of cases and more than one million deaths through 2023, according to new projections from the US Metrology and Evaluation Institute. health (IHME).
According to the group’s projections, cases in China would peak around April 1, when deaths would reach 322,000. About a third of China’s population will have been infected by then, IHME Director Christopher Murray said.
China’s national health authority has reported no official Covid deaths since the lifting of Covid restrictions. The last official deaths were reported on December 3.
The total number of pandemic-related deaths stands at 5,235.
China lifted some of the world’s toughest Covid restrictions in December after unprecedented public protests and is currently experiencing a spike in infections amid fears Covid could sweep through its population of 1.4 billion over the New Year holidays. Lunar year next month.
“Nobody thought he would stick to zero-Covid for as long as he did,” Murray said on Friday when the IHME projections were posted online.
China’s zero Covid policy may have been effective in keeping earlier variants of the virus at bay, but the high transmissibility of Omicron variants made it unsustainable, he said.
The independent modeling group at the University of Washington in Seattle, which governments and businesses have relied on throughout the pandemic, relied on provincial data and information from a recent outbreak of Omicron in Hong Kong.
“Since the first outbreak in Wuhan, China hasn’t reported any deaths. That’s why we looked to Hong Kong to get a sense of the infection fatality rate,” Murray said.
For its predictions, IHME also uses information on vaccination rates provided by the Chinese government as well as assumptions about how different provinces will respond as infection rates rise.
Other experts expect around 60% of China’s population to eventually be infected, with a peak expected in January, hitting vulnerable populations, such as the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions, the hardest.
Major concerns include the large number of susceptible individuals in China, the use of less effective vaccines and low vaccination coverage among people aged 80 and over, who are most at risk of severe disease.
Other models
Disease modelers at the University of Hong Kong predict that lifting Covid restrictions and simultaneously reopening all provinces from December 2022 to January 2023 would result in 684 deaths per million people during that time, according to a Wednesday article on the Medrxiv preprint server that has not yet been peer reviewed.
Based on China’s population of 1.41 billion, and without measures such as a mass vaccination booster campaign, that’s 964,400 deaths.
Another study published in July 2022 in Nature Medicine by researchers from Shanghai Fudan University School of Public Health predicted that a wave of Omicron in the absence of restrictions would result in 1.55 million deaths on a period of six months and a peak demand for intensive care units 15.6 times higher. than the existing capacity.
Yanzhong Huang, senior global health researcher at the Council on Foreign Relations, said there were 164 million people in China with diabetes, a risk factor for poor Covid outcomes. There are also 8 million people aged 80 and over who have never been vaccinated.
Chinese authorities are now encouraging individuals to get boosted from a list of new vaccines made in China, however, the government is still reluctant to use foreign vaccines, Huang said.
China’s National Health Commission said on Friday it was stepping up vaccinations and stockpiling ventilators and essential drugs.


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