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China May Witness Over 1 Million Covid Deaths in 2023: Study

Covid-19 may kill up to 1 million individuals in China if the government soon abandons pandemic limits, according to a new analysis from Hong Kong experts. “Surge of disease burden posed by reopening in December 2022-January 2023 would certainly overburden many local health systems across the country,” the study shows. The study is titled “Modelling the modification of COVID-19 reaction and exit from dynamic zero-COVID in China.”

The study, which Gabriel Leung, a former dean of medicine at the University of Hong Kong, co-authored, estimates that in the absence of a major vaccine booster campaign and other steps to mitigate the impact of the virus, 684 persons per million would die in a statewide reopening.

Since the initial Wuhan outbreak, China, which has a population of 1.41 billion, has been able to contain COVID-19 occurrences thanks to its “dynamic zero-COVID” policy. As indicated by the latest modifications to its COVID-19 reaction strategy, China announced “20 measures” on November 11 and additional “10 measures” on December 7, 2022, establishing a balance between sustainability and cost-benefit.

The researchers looked at several scenarios, including the 7 December announcement of 10 measures to pull back basic Covid Zero principles including obligatory testing and lockdowns, in the wake of China’s recent moves to reopen.

Around April 1, when the number of deaths reached 322,000, cases in China would reach their peak. By then, according to Christopher Murray, director of the US-based Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), around a third of China’s population will be infected.

Since the COVID limitations were lifted, the national health authority of China has not recorded any official COVID deaths. On December 3, there were no further documented official deaths. 5,235 people have died as a result of the epidemic.

Following unprecedented public protests, China lifted some of the strictest COVID regulations in the world in December. As a result, the country is now seeing an increase in infections, raising concerns that COVID could spread throughout its 1.4 billion people during the Lunar New Year holiday next month.

When the IHME estimates were made public online on Friday, Murray noted, “Nobody believed they would stick to zero-COVID as long as they did.”

The zero-COVID strategy in China may have been successful in containing early viral varieties, but the high transmissibility of Omicron variants rendered it unsustainable, according to him.

Governments and businesses have depended on the independent modeling team at the University of Washington in Seattle during the epidemic. They used provincial statistics and details from a recent Omicron outbreak in Hong Kong.

Other studies 

Researchers from the School of Public Health at Fudan University in Shanghai published another study in July 2022 in Nature Medicine that predicted an Omicron wave without restrictions would cause 1.55 million deaths over the course of six months and result in a peak demand for intensive care units that was 15.6 times greater than available capacity.

According to Yanzhong Huang, senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations, 164 million individuals in China have diabetes, which increases the likelihood of having a COVID with bad results. Additionally, 8 million adults 80 and older have never received a vaccination.

Huang stated that although Chinese officials are now urging people to obtain booster shots from a list of more recent Chinese-made vaccinations, the government is still apprehensive about using foreign vaccines.

The National Health Commission of China announced on Friday that it was stepping up immunizations and stockpiling ventilators and critical medications.

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