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Chinese Journalist Reveals17.65 Percent of China’s Population Has Covid-19

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Chinese Journalist Reveals17.65 Percent of China's Population Has Covid-19

According to a leaked government document circulating on social media in China, nearly 250 million people may now be infected with COVID-19 as a result of the lifting of control measures.

The document, which appeared to be the leaked minutes of a December 20 meeting of the country’s National Health Commission, estimated that 248 million people, or 17.65 percent of China’s population, became infected with COVID-19 between December 1 and December 20.

The number of new cases on December 20 alone was estimated to be around 37 million, in stark contrast to the thousands detailed by official government figures for that day.

A senior Chinese journalist, speaking on the condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation, told Radio Free Asia on Thursday that the document was genuine and had been leaked by someone present at the meeting who acted deliberately and in the public interest.

The apparent leak came amid mounting anecdotal evidence of a wave of deaths in Beijing, and as the U.K.-based research firm Airfinity estimated that up to 5,000 people die from the coronavirus every day across China.

To arrive at the figure, the company used a computer model based on regional Chinese data. According to the same model, the current daily COVID-19 infection rate is more than a million.

Official data currently shows a total of 1,800 cases and only seven deaths in the last week, but officials have warned that the virus is now “impossible to track” due to the discontinuation of mass, mandatory testing.

According to Reuters’ report on the Airfinity estimates, China’s National Health Commission did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

On Thursday, officials reported no new COVID-19 deaths and 2,966 new local symptomatic cases for December 21.

According to Reuters, Airfinity’s mortality risk analysis suggested that between 1.3 and 2.1 million people could die in the current outbreak, with other analyses predicting more than two million deaths.

According to Airfinity, the outbreak could have two peaks: 3.7 million cases per day in mid-January in areas where cases are currently increasing, and 4.2 million cases per day in other provinces in March.

According to the report, the most cases are currently being reported in Beijing and the southern province of Guangdong.

Covid-19 cases in China soaring even higher

According to the leaked minutes, National Health Commission head Ma Xiaowei stated at an internal meeting that cases will likely increase further now that disease control and prevention measures have been largely lifted, and as people make the annual trip back to their parental homes to celebrate Lunar New Year, in what is one of the world’s largest mass migrations of people.

The number of cases is expected to rise rapidly in more places, with cities and rural areas rising at comparable rates, according to the document, which Radio Free Asia was unable to independently verify.

Given that rural areas have much poorer healthcare and are frequently home to elderly people suffering from a variety of chronic diseases, the situation could deteriorate significantly, according to Ma.

According to the minutes, cases are currently highest in Beijing and the southwestern province of Sichuan, with cumulative infection rates of more than 50%, while Tianjin, Hubei, Henan, and Hunan had estimated cumulative infection rates ranging from 20 to 50%.

The document, approximately 2.62 percent of the population was infected with COVID-19 on December 20 alone, with infections spreading rapidly in Sichuan, Anhui, Hubei, Shanghai, and Hunan.

According to the minutes, more than 20 million people have been infected in Sichuan, with Henan and Hubei estimated to have similar numbers, and 10-20 million in each of Hunan, Hebei, Guangdong, Beijing, Anhui, and Shandong.

Shortage of medicines and medical supplies

Lin Hsiao-hsu, a former virology researcher at the Walter Reed Army Research Institute in the United States, believes the Chinese government generated the figures mentioned in the leaked document using its own computer models now that testing data is no longer being collected.

“From what I’ve read, I think all we can really say is that the COVID-19 outbreak has now spread throughout the entire country,” Lin said.

“The fact that the Communist Party has arrived at such huge estimates shows that they are attempting to create panic in order to profit from it,” he said.

The most concerning development, according to Lin, should be the increase in serious illness and deaths, as well as the current shortage of medicines and medical supplies, including ventilators.

According to Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security and a spokesperson for the Infectious Diseases Society of America, the current chaotic situation in China was entirely predictable.

“The Chinese government went from one extreme that didn’t recognize the biology of the virus to another extreme that did,” Adalja told Radio Free Asia.

World Health Organization is ‘extremely concerned.’

Adalja advocated for targeted interventions to slow the spread of the virus, such as contact tracing and imported antivirals and vaccines, rather than “welding people into their homes,” a reference to some practices seen during the zero-COVID policy.

“What you see is China teetering between two false alternatives, neither of which is reality-based,” he said, warning that due to the upcoming Lunar New Year holiday season, infections were unlikely to peak in China anytime soon.

“It is critical to recognize that a humanitarian disaster is currently unfolding in China,” bio-risk consultant and COVID-19 forecaster Conor Brown tweeted on December 20.

“It is clear that SARS-CoV-2 is now spreading uncontrollably across China,” Brown wrote, adding that the current outbreak was likely causing “massive human suffering.”

“My feeling is that the virus is now beyond positive control,” Brown said, adding that the BF.7 variant of Omicron is likely to be responsible for the vast majority of infections.

One infection infects 16 more

Even if the ruling Chinese Communist Party reversed its decision to lift disease control measures, he said, it would only slow, not stop, the rampant community transmission that is now taking place, citing reports that every person infected with BF.7 in China is currently infecting 16 more people.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, stated on December 21 that he is “very concerned” about the situation in China. “The WHO is very concerned about the evolving situation in China,” Tedros said at a weekly news conference, pleading for more information on disease severity, hospital admissions, and intensive care needs.

Tedros also urged China to expand its COVID-19 vaccination program, citing concerns that homegrown vaccines are ineffective against the current strain of the virus.

“Domestically produced vaccines don’t work very well, especially now that the virus has mutated and the situation is very complicated,” said Si Ling, a Beijing-based political and financial commentator.

“The Chinese government is unwilling to admit this because fully launching vaccines from foreign countries, Europe, and the United States in China would reduce rates of deaths and infections across the entire population, forcing the Chinese government to admit that the Chinese-made vaccines are rubbish,” Si said.

Currently, mainland China has only approved the use of inactivated, recombinant protein, and viral vector vaccines produced domestically. At least ten pharmaceutical companies have stated that they are developing mRNA vaccines, but none have yet been produced.

Source: RFA, Reuters

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