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China’s Covid death toll could near 1 million, study shows


HONG KONG: Nearly 1 million people in China could die from Covid-19 as the government quickly abandons measures to contain the pandemic, according to a new study by researchers in Hong Kong.
In the absence of mass vaccination campaigns and other measures to reduce the impact of the virus, about 684 people per million will die on reopening nationwide, according to a report by Gabriel Leung. , former dean of the University of Medicine and Pharmacy and co-author. Medicine at the University of Hong Kong.
According to Bloomberg calculations, this equates to about 964,400 deaths, based on China’s population of 1.41 billion.
Leung’s team was influential in predicting the scale of Hong Kong’s deadly outbreak earlier this year. His team members were part of a team of experts from the city that traveled to Beijing early last month to advise Chinese officials on the decommissioning. Covid restrictions nationwide, as reported by the Financial Times.
The researchers considered various scenarios following China’s recent reopening moves, including the December 7 announcement of 10 measures aimed at restoring core operations. Covid Zero principles such as mandatory checks and lockdowns.
“Our results show that local health systems across all provinces will not be able to cope with the increase in Covid-19 cases due to reopening in December 2022 – January 2023, ‘ they wrote.
According to the report, a more orderly reopening could save many lives. The researchers write that if China waited until January to reopen while improving vaccination rates and access to antiviral drugs for the first time, the cumulative number of deaths could be reduced by 26 %.
Since initiating the shift away from zero tolerance just a week ago, China has lifted most of its internal restrictions, bypassing the strict tactic used to remove the virus for three years. past year. The spread has been so dramatic that it has rendered official Covid statistics almost meaningless and has seen hospitals in the capital overwhelmed.
Formerly the deputy minister in charge of food and health, Leung is a well-known figure in Hong’s medical circles. Former city leader Carrie Lam said she tightened Covid restrictions in the city after receiving a WhatsApp message from him.
In early February, when omicrons were spreading in Hong Kong, Leung’s computer modeling suggested that nearly 7,000 people could die in that wave by mid-June if the health care system was overwhelmed. The forecast has proven to be an underestimation. More than 9,000 people had died by mid-June.
According to Leung’s latest report, the explosive increase in infection rates across the country could also lead to a spike in the virus.
A high-R-rate reopening – the virus’s baseline number of reproductions – would “lead to a large number of infections likely to accelerate mutation, selectivity,” the researchers wrote. filtering and evolution of the SARS-CoV-2 virus”. SARS-CoV-2 is the coronavirus that causes Covid.
It is no longer possible to determine China’s R rate after the government stopped publishing the number of new asymptomatic cases.
The report was published on Wednesday and is pre-print, meaning it has not been certified by peer review.

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