COVID Warning: 6.3 Lakh Daily Cases Predicted If China Opens Up Like The US

Beijing: A research carried out by experts of a Chinese University have predicted a colossal outbreak of COVID-19 cases in the country if it adopts anti-pandemic measures like the ones implemented in the US.

There could be 6.3 lakh daily COVID cases if the Chinese government lifts travel bans or abandons the “zero tolerance” approach against the deadly virus, which has mutated into the even more dangerous Omicron variant.

In the report by Peking University experts, published in the Chinese Centre for Disease Control’s weekly, researchers have warned that if Beijing moves away from its current anti-COVID strategies, it could put an “unaffordable burden” on the country’s health system.

“More efficient vaccinations or more specific treatment, preferably a combination of both, are needed before entry-exit quarantine measures and other COVID-19 response strategies in China can be safely lifted,” stated the researchers with expertise in mathematics, statistics and public health.

“The estimates revealed the real possibility of a colossal outbreak which would almost certainly put an unbearable burden on the medical system,” the authors said in the study titled ‘On Coexistence with Covid-19: Estimations and Perspectives’.

China has been able to control the spread of COVID-19 since the coronavirus was first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019. The total number of confirmed COVID cases on the mainland is less 1 lakh (98,631), with the death toll being 4,636.

China’s anti-epidemic measures were compared with that of the US, UK, Israel, Spain and France.

The study for August from the five countries suggests that China could have logged between 2.6 lakh to 6.3 lakh cases daily if similar strategies to fight the pandemic had been in place.

And if China had strategies similar to France and the UK, researchers estimated it would have logged 454,198 and 275,793 daily coronavirus infections.

The research identified four tenets required for transition from COVID-elimination strategy to opening up — retain flexible non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs), maximise vaccination coverage, shield industries and vulnerable groups from the unintended consequences resulting from NPIs, and detect and isolate COVID-19 cases promptly using extensive surveillance and stronger community social responsibility.

“However, due to the large population and relatively scarce health resources per capita in China, it is difficult to fully achieve tenets 1, 3, and 4, especially during a large-scale outbreak; therefore, China needs to be cautious about the decision on the open-up,” the study said.

“For the time being, we are not ready to embrace ‘open-up’ strategies resting solely on the hypothesis of herd immunity induced by vaccination, advocated by certain western countries”.

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