Will Omicron finally defeat China’s COVID defenses?

In some parts of China, barricades have been set up around communities with high COVID-19 cases.Credits: Kevin Frayer / Getty

All attention is being paid to China as it seeks to quell the largest outbreak of COVID-19 since the early days of the pandemic. More than 62,000 people are infected in all 31 states, most of which are rapidly spreading. I am infected with a variant of BA.2 Omicron.

President Xi Jinping announced earlier this month that he would stick to a “dynamic zero-corona strategy” aimed at eradicating the infection and preventing the virus from spreading to the community. This is in contrast to the current global trend to relax restrictions and attempt to coexist with circulating viruses.

China’s hard-line approach to eliminating COVID-19 seems to have eased. In his speech, Xi also flagged a more realistic strategy, calling for authorities to limit the economic impact of control measures. -19 has been sent to a dedicated quarantine center rather than a hospital and has been monitored for a shorter period of time than previously required. However, some researchers disagree on whether the virus will spread out of control before the government has time to prepare.

Boost test

“They have repeatedly demonstrated that they can control the outbreak,” says epidemiologist Ben Cowling of the University of Hong Kong. He expects the number of cases to continue to increase over the next few days due to ongoing aggressive testing efforts, but then return to zero.

XiChen, an economist at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, is a public health system in China.

But others say China needs to be prepared for an expanding outbreak. New infectious diseases are progressing towards 6,000 confirmed cases per day. University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. He said the number of cases is unlikely to return to zero, and trying to keep the virus under control would require strict restrictions to “surely bring down their economy.”

If Omicron goes out of control, its consequences can be catastrophic. This is similar to the current outbreak in Hong Kong, where deaths are skyrocketing and hospitals are overwhelmed. More than a million people can die during the Omicron wave in mainland China, according to an analysis by Airfinity, a life sciences market analysis firm in London. This is because only 50% of people over the age of 80 are fully vaccinated.

Lessons from Hong Kong

Recent experience in Hong Kong has highlighted the cost of low vaccination rates for the elderly. In early March, nearly 900 COVID-19s occurred per 100,000 residents in Hong Kong. This is the highest level in the world during a pandemic. The death toll also surged to nearly 300 a day earlier this month. Experts have accused the elderly of low vaccination rates due to the high mortality rates in the region. Only about one-third of people over the age of 80 are fully vaccinated, and 90% of deaths are completely unvaccinated.

Mainland China faces similar predicaments if current outbreaks are not suppressed. The vaccination rate for China as a whole is over 85%. This was achieved with the introduction of the digital vaccination passport system required for access to many public buildings and workplaces. A color-coded “health code” that indicates whether someone is at risk of infection, but Mr. Cowling uses a facility where older people need a vaccination passport and can remain unvaccinated. It is unlikely that you will.

52 million people over the age of 60 have not yet been fully vaccinated. The most vulnerable people over the age of 80 are the least vaccinated, with only 20% receiving primary vaccination courses and booster shots. Cowling and his colleague, who have not yet been peer-reviewed, said that the Sinovac vaccine, one of the two major vaccines used in China, is effective in reducing severe cases and mortality, but in the elderly. Shows that a third shot is needed to give a high level of protection over 60 years old1..

Lu Jiahai, an infectious disease epidemiologist at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, China, said COVID-19 deaths could be “much worse” than Airfinity’s estimate of 1 million if Omicron spreads throughout the population. I am saying. It’s a responsibility to people’s lives, so it doesn’t change or mitigate current prevention and management strategies, “he says.

Exit strategy

China’s large domestic economy has made the Zero Corona strategy more sustainable than less populated areas such as New Zealand and Singapore. But it can’t last forever. The stock market index is declining, China’s economy is suffering, and Cowling says the catastrophic outbreak will be more frequent as the virus circulates freely elsewhere.

Increasing immunization rates for the elderly is a priority, but this can be time consuming as many live in rural areas. China will probably wait until the group’s vaccination rate reaches 80% before further deregulation.

Chen says he relies on hospitals as his first port of call, as China currently has few family doctors. He believes that most COVID-19 restrictions will apply for another year. This allows the government. Build a fledgling family doctor network or dedicated isolation facility to treat people with mild or asymptomatic COVID-19 and relieve pressure on the hospital system. If the country is not ready, the resumption is a “healthcare system,” Chen says.

Chinese authorities also need to prepare the public for what’s to come, Chen says. Many have become dependent on the government’s willingness to use all the means necessary to control the virus at the expense of the economy.

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