Daily Management Review

New Covid Model Forecasts More Than 1 Million People Will Die In China By 2023


New Covid Model Forecasts More Than 1 Million People Will Die In China By 2023
According to new projections from the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), China's abrupt lifting of stringent Covid-19 restrictions could result in an increase in cases and over a million deaths through 2023.
According to the group's projections, cases in China will peak around April 1, with 322,000 deaths. By then, a third of China's population will have been infected, according to IHME Director Christopher Murray.
Since the lifting of Covid restrictions, China's national health authority has not reported any official Covid deaths. The most recent official deaths were reported on December 3.
The total number of pandemic fatalities is 5,235.
Nobody expected them to stick with zero-Covid for as long as they did.
Following unparalleled public protests, China lifted some of the world's toughest Covid restrictions in December, and is now seeing an increase in infections, with fears that Covid will spread across its 1.4 billion population during next month's Lunar New Year holiday.
“Nobody thought they would stick to zero-Covid as long as they did,” Murray said on Friday when the IHME projections were released online.
China's zero-Covid policy may have been effective in keeping earlier strains of the virus at bay, but the high transmissibility of Omicron variants rendered it unsustainable, he said.
The independent modelling group at the University of Washington in Seattle, on which governments and businesses have relied throughout the pandemic, used provincial data as well as information from a recent Omicron outbreak in Hong Kong.
“China has since the original Wuhan outbreak barely reported any deaths. That is why we looked to Hong Kong to get an idea of the infection fatality rate,” Murray said.
IHME also uses data on vaccination rates provided by the Chinese government, as well as assumptions about how different provinces will respond as infection rates rise.
Other experts predict that 60% of China's population will eventually be infected, with a peak in January, with vulnerable populations such as the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions bearing the brunt of the burden.
China's large pool of susceptible individuals, the use of less effective vaccines, and low vaccine coverage among those aged 80 and older, who are at highest risk of severe disease, are all major concerns.
According to a paper released on Wednesday on the Medrxiv preprint server that has yet to be peer reviewed, disease modellers at the University of Hong Kong predict that lifting Covid restrictions and simultaneously reopening all provinces in December 2022 through January 2023 would result in 684 deaths per million people during that timeframe.
Based on China's population of 1.41 billion, that equates to 964,400 deaths in the absence of measures such as a mass vaccination booster campaign.
Another study, published in Nature Medicine in July 2022, predicted that an Omicron wave without restrictions would result in 1.55 million deaths over a six-month period, and peak demand for intensive care units would be 15.6 times higher than existing capacity.
According to Yanzhong Huang, a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations, China has 164 million people with diabetes, which is a risk factor for poor Covid outcomes. In addition, 8 million people aged 80 and up have never been immunized.
Chinese officials are now encouraging people to get vaccinated using a list of newer Chinese-made vaccines; however, the government is still hesitant to use foreign vaccines. Huang
China's National Health Commission announced on Friday that it was increasing vaccinations and stockpiling ventilators and essential drugs.