China: Researchers fear more than 1.5 million will eventually die without COVID

Updated on 05/10/2022 at 05:00 PM

  • According to Chinese scientists, the complete cancellation of the strategy to eliminate the emerging corona virus in China will lead to many deaths.
  • Their study supports the government’s controversial coronavirus policy, but also deals with the dilemma in which China finds itself.
  • A German health expert recommends that “the country’s leadership allow the virus to enter the country with minute openings.”

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Chinese scientists said that the complete lifting of the strategy to eliminate the emerging corona virus in China will lead to a “tsunami” of infections with 1.55 million deaths. According to their study, published in the scientific journal Nature Medicine, there could be 112 million symptomatic infections within six months. According to the information, the need for beds in intensive care units will be 15.6 times higher than the capacity. Although 91 percent of the population was vaccinated and 53 percent boosted as well, the outbreak could not be prevented, according to the finding.

According to the researchers, in a worst-case scenario, the highly contagious omicron variant could result in 5.1 million hospitalizations. 2.7 million patients will then be in intensive care units, wrote the authors, led by Hongjie Yu, who conducted research primarily at Fudan University in Shanghai, but also in the USA. Because of the age disparity in vaccination coverage in China, most of the dead will be unvaccinated people over the age of 60.

Researchers support the controversial Corona policy

With their warning, the scholars support the Chinese government’s controversial Corona policy, but they are also dealing with the dilemma in which China finds itself and showing possible ways out. Resentment is growing in the country over the crackdown. Tens of thousands of people are in quarantine camps, sometimes under difficult conditions, and there are restrictions on food delivery and medical care.

In the event of a fire, fire trucks cannot break through the barriers. Freight traffic through the world’s largest port in Shanghai has collapsed due to a shortage of trucks. Supply chains are down. More than 26 million residents of the port city of Shanghai and several million in other cities, especially in northeastern China, have also been locked down for more than a month.

China as a victim of its own success

After two years of largely successful virus control and lockdown, China is now a victim of its own success, with no infections at all. “The lack of protection from vaccination and the absence of the virus leave the Chinese population in a similar situation to all the world’s population at the start of the epidemic,” said Timo Ulrichs, a global health expert at the Akre University for the Humanities in Berlin. , news agency.

“Given the very high infectivity of the omicron variant, the zero-COVID strategy can only be maintained through increasingly stringent measures,” said Ulrichs. “The question remains: what will happen next?”

Researchers recommend a customized strategy

Researchers led by Hongjie Yu also showed how the number of dead and sick could be reduced through a modified strategy. Vaccination, including boosters and campaigns for seniors over 60, played a “key role,” along with additional antiviral treatments and social distancing. There must be a combination because none of the proposals alone will be able to reduce the number of deaths to the level of regular flu waves (88,000 deaths).

“Whether or for how long the zero-COVID policy can be maintained is questionable,” the authors of the new study wrote. According to the recommendation of the World Health Organization (WHO), all countries should prepare to “design their own path to transition from the pandemic phase to the endemic phase.”

The authors wrote that after adopting a “dynamic” and somewhat more targeted, COVID-free strategy in August 2021 due to more contagious virus variants, China is now debating how long this could continue. The debate turns to containment strategies over how to ease the burden on the health system. However, due to significant country differences, strategies must also be designed differently from one region to another.

“Let the virus into the country with minute openings”

Ulrichs said he does not share the fear that the healthcare system will be immediately overburdened after the cautious opening in China. “It all depends on the right strategy, and there are good models for that in other countries.”

It would be advisable for China to “allow the virus to enter the country with minute openings.” At the same time, there should be nationwide vaccination of the four vaccines approved in the West. Chinese vaccines “do not appear to produce sufficient immunity”. (dpa/ok)


There are strict restrictions on the movement of local residents. These affect the lives of an estimated 340 million people.

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