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China Could Have 65 Million COVID Cases a Week by June: Should the World Be Concerned?

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China Could Have 65 Million COVID Cases a Week by June Should the World Be Concerned

(CTN News) – China is currently grappling with a new wave of COVID-19 infections, driven by the XBB variant, as health experts sound the alarm over the escalating number of cases.

Chinese Health Expert Projects 65 Million COVID-19 Cases Weekly by June

A senior health adviser in China projected that the country could experience 65 million COVID-19 cases per week by June, raising concerns about the effectiveness of China’s vaccination efforts and containment protocols.

Since transitioning from a zero-COVID strategy to a “living with the virus” policy in December, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention stopped providing regular updates on weekly infections.

However, the relaxation of anti-epidemic measures resulted in an estimated 37 million new infections per day a few weeks later. Experts believe nearly 80% of China’s 1.4 billion population may have already been infected during the first wave.

Respiratory disease doctor Zhong Nanshan, known for confirming COVID-19’s high transmissibility, provided insights into the spread of the disease during this second wave.

His modeling indicates that the XBB variant is expected to cause 40 million infections weekly by May, with projections reaching 65 million by June. These figures contradict the Chinese health officials estimate that the wave had peaked in April. Notably, the number of new infections recorded in Beijing has quadrupled over four weeks from May 15 to 21.

While Zhong mentioned the development of vaccines targeting the XBB variant, the projection of increasing infections has sparked concerns in the market.

According to researchers, China’s collective immunity has been questioned due to domestically developed vaccines that demonstrated lower efficacy in preventing infection during early clinical trials. Moreover, stringent virus containment protocols have limited the development of natural immunity.

Yanzhong Huang, a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations, suggests that despite the lack of mass testing to determine the true extent of the surge, the Chinese population may have acquired some level of immunity from the previous wave.

Huang emphasizes that public health officials in China tend to downplay the severity of the second wave, indicating that the Chinese people have learned to coexist with the virus through social adaptability.

Compared to countries like the United States and Australia, China is still in the process of transitioning COVID-19 from a pandemic to an endemic disease.

Catherine Bennett, an epidemiologist at Deakin University, highlights the importance of vaccine effectiveness and ensuring that everyone, particularly the elderly and vulnerable populations, remains up to date with vaccinations.

While the current mutations in the SARS-CoV-2 virus have not significantly differed from the Omicron variant, resulting in relatively milder symptoms, the potential emergence of a new, more dangerous sub-variant cannot be completely ruled out.

Another factor influencing China’s prognosis is its willingness to share information transparently. Independent experts have expressed skepticism regarding China’s official COVID-19 figures, leading many to rely on their statistics.

The delayed release of marriage and funeral data for the October-December 2022 period has raised speculation about the true extent of the infection spread during the first wave.

Vincent Pang, an assistant professor at Duke-NUS Medical School, emphasizes the importance of sharing data on the spread and impact of COVID-19 globally through a well-regulated platform.

Such sharing enables countries to perform their own risk assessments and underscores the notion that”Infectious disease does not respect geographical boundaries,” Pang highlights. “No one is safe until everyone is ready and safe.”

Sharing accurate and timely information about the spread of COVID-19 is crucial for effective global risk assessment and response. However, China’s willingness to transparently share data has been a subject of skepticism among independent experts.

Concerns Rise Over China’s Ability to Achieve Collective Immunity

Many have resorted to recording their statistics due to concerns over the reliability of China’s official COVID-19 figures. Furthermore, the delayed release of marriage and funeral data for the October-December 2022 period raises questions about the true extent of the infection spread during the first wave.

Vincent Pang emphasizes the need for a well-regulated, global platform where countries can share data on the spread and impact of COVID-19. This would enable other countries to perform their own risk assessments and take necessary measures to protect their populations.

Pang stresses the importance of recognizing that infectious diseases have no boundaries and that true safety can only be achieved when everyone is prepared and protected.

As China grapples with the new wave of COVID-19 infections, the country must ensure effective vaccination efforts, especially among the elderly and vulnerable populations.

The emergence of the XBB variant and the projected rise in cases underscore the need for vigilance and ongoing monitoring of the situation. While the current mutations in the virus have not significantly undermined immunity or testing capabilities, it is crucial to remain cautious and prepared for the potential emergence of new sub-variants.

China’s ability to control and mitigate the spread of COVID-19 will impact its population and have global implications. By prioritizing transparency, international collaboration, and proactive measures, China can work towards effectively managing the ongoing wave and contribute to global efforts in combating the pandemic.

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