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Covid-19’s Spread in China Might Tell Us How Deadly Omicron Really Is

Funviralpark 2 years ago 0 4

The rapid spread of Covid-19 in China has led to reports of overcrowding in hospitals and flooding of crematoriums. It also helps determine if Omicron is really a milder version of the virus.

Iterations of the Omicron variant are spreading rapidly in China after authorities eased the zero Covid controls in place for most of the pandemic. Pharmacies were out of antipyretics and hospitals were strained, workers said. Chinese officials are reporting a slight increase in Covid-19 cases and deaths, but some public health experts and the relatives of the deceased say there are more casualties. I doubt that there is.

Chinese officials have told citizens that Omicron is significantly less deadly than previous variants. Some studies suggest that Omicron is gentler than previous versions. Countries, including the United States, are seeing high levels of omicron-fueled infections transform into less severe illness compared to previous waves.

But Covid-19 vaccines and previous infections have boosted immune defenses in the United States and elsewhere, reducing the risk of hospitalization and death as the pandemic progresses, according to public health experts.

China is encountering a subspecies of Omicron with low exposure to the virus and low vaccination rates among older people, public health experts say.The spread of Covid-19 compares to the population’s built defenses As such, it helps explain the extent to which reductions in severe illness and mortality are affected by the properties of omicron.

Melanie Ott, Ph.D., Director of the Gladstone Institute of Virology at the University of California, San Francisco, said:

A pedestrian in a protective suit in Beijing earlier this month.


Photo:

bloomberg news

Public health experts said tracing Omicron’s impact in China would be difficult. They said they, along with the relatives of the deceased patients, believe the government has not made public the full extent of the damage caused by the virus.

China has reported a small number of deaths since ending its control policy. Its definition of what constitutes a Covid-19 death is narrow by global standards.

China has relied on measures such as mass testing, lockdowns and border closures to contain the virus and limit the number of cases in most of the pandemic. Efforts to boost Covid-19 immunizations and strengthen health infrastructure to prepare for a surge have received less attention.

China is now facing the rest of the world Rapid spread of Omicron variants. Shortly after his Omicron was identified in late 2021 and quickly defeated other versions of the virus, several studies and anecdotal reports from doctors suggested that Omicron had a milder disease than its predecessor, Delta. showed what caused it. However, it was far more contagious.

Studies in human cells and animals such as hamsters suggest that omicron does not penetrate as deeply into the lungs as its predecessor and may be less severe. Instead, it may have a greater effect on the upper respiratory tract, says Michael Diamond, a viral immunologist and professor of medicine at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

Antigen test kits assembled here at a factory in eastern China’s Jiangsu province are reportedly in short supply.


Photo:

Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

“That’s why you can get more infections and more serious illness,” said Dr. Diamond, author of one such paper. He also said that the animal findings may not apply to humans.

US researchers found a lower risk of severe outcome in patients infected with Omicron compared with those infected with Delta among previously unimmunized hospitalized patients. A study published in Clinical Infectious Diseases found that the risk of Omicron in hospitalized patients was similar to that of previous variants, including the original strain.

With each mutation, the Covid-19 virus becomes more contagious. WSJ’s Daniela Hernandez provides a scientific analysis of how new coronavirus variants are becoming more infectious and spreading.Illustrated by Rami Abkalam

Omicron is probably less severe overall than previous versions of the virus, according to Matt Robinson, lead author of the paper and assistant professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Dr. Robinson said increasing herd immunity in the United States and elsewhere has helped strengthen defenses against serious illnesses.

Virus levels in U.S. wastewater are higher nationwide than they were two years ago, when the number of deaths in the country peaked, according to data from tracking firm Biobot Analytics. However, mortality decreased. The state and territory had about 2,950 Covid-19 deaths in a recent measured week, compared with a peak of over 23,380 in a week in January 2021, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. reported.

About 2,700 people have been reported to have died from Covid-19 in the United States in the most recent week, compared with a week peak of 26,000 in January 2021, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. .

Even if the risks faced by individuals are low, Omicron’s ability to spread can still lead to significant death tolls. The variant that broke out in the United States last winter caused the second-highest level of deaths in the pandemic because the number of people infected was so high. Covid-19 will become the third leading cause of death in the United States in both 2020 and 2021, behind heart disease and cancer.

While most of the Chinese population have received at least one dose of the vaccine, only 66% of those over the age of 80 were fully vaccinated, and just over 40% received a booster shot. said yes We aim to have at least 90% of people over the age of 80 vaccinated at least once by the end of January.

Hong Kong’s pandemic control was also tight, with low vaccination and booster rates among the elderly, which led to the widespread spread of Omicron earlier this year. The peak mortality rate was he one of the highest recorded in the world during the pandemic.

“There is a great concern that the experience in Hong Kong will be reflected in China as a whole,” said Dr. Christopher Chu, professor of infectious diseases at Imperial College London..

Write to Brianna Abbott ([email protected]) and Jon Kamp ([email protected]).

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