(CTN News) – A recent study conducted by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle has uncovered startling insights into the aftermath of China’s decision to lift its stringent “zero-Covid” policies.
The study, published on Thursday, contradicts Beijing’s official figures and highlights a significant disparity in reported excess deaths. This revelation has ignited discussions about the accuracy of China’s Covid-related data and the implications of its actions on mortality rates.
The study’s findings suggest that in the two months following the relaxation of “zero-Covid” restrictions, there were approximately 1.87 million excess deaths among individuals aged 30 and older in China.
These deaths, spread across mainland provinces except Tibet, were primarily concentrated among the older population. The data points to a substantial contrast with China’s official numbers, which have been criticized for their underrepresentation of the true impact of the virus.
China’s Zero-Covid Approach: Successes and Setbacks
China’s stringent “zero-Covid” strategy, marked by mass testing, border closures, and extensive lockdowns, proved successful in minimizing Covid cases and deaths throughout much of the pandemic.
However, the sudden lifting of these restrictions in December, prompted by rare mass protests, led to a surge in cases driven by the highly transmissible omicron variant.
The swift transition from strict restrictions to a virus-unleashed environment exposed China’s population, which had limited exposure to the virus. The subsequent surge in Covid cases resulted in a significant rise in hospitalizations and deaths, a phenomenon believed to be inadequately reported by official sources.
Experts point to anecdotal evidence and satellite imagery capturing heightened activity at crematoriums and funeral homes as indications of underreported Covid-related fatalities.
The study’s estimate of 1.87 million excess deaths starkly contrasts with China’s official count of around 60,000 Covid-related deaths during the same period.
Notably, this finding aligns with estimates from other independent researchers, reinforcing the likelihood of a higher death toll than officially acknowledged.
The study’s estimation is rooted in a unique methodology that utilized obituaries from three Chinese universities and data from the popular Chinese search engine, Baidu.
Keywords such as “cremation” and “burial” were tracked, offering insights into excess deaths. While the methodology may lack scientific rigor, it provides an objective perspective on the situation.
The study’s findings emphasize the significance of accurate data for understanding the impact of sudden COVID-19 propagation on population mortality. Transparent reporting of data, as seen in previous years, is urged to provide a clearer picture of the situation.
Experts acknowledge the potential variability in the study’s estimates. Factors such as benchmarking university employees, who may possess higher self-preparedness, vaccination rates, and healthcare access, could influence the results. Additionally, underlying health conditions among this group might affect the data.
International Comparisons: Contrasting Covid-Related Death Reports
China’s reported Covid-related deaths, which total fewer than 122,000, stand in stark contrast to the United States’ reported toll of over 1.1 million. This discrepancy underscores the need for accurate and transparent data sharing.
Chinese officials have denied withholding Covid-19 data from international bodies, attributing accusations to political motivations. They acknowledge ongoing analysis of excess deaths and pledge a more comprehensive understanding of the Covid-19 death toll in due course.