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In China, there is a fear of more than one million deaths from Covid next year

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In China, 16 lakh people are expected to die from Covid in 2023 and the question is being asked how prepared is the Chinese government in terms of medical arrangements to combat it?

File photo IANS
File photo IANS
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When China announced a relaxation of its zero-covid policy in early December, international observers warned that a large-scale epidemic could spread among China’s large population, which has sufficient immunity or vaccine protection. It has not been done.

According to a report published by a medical organization, healthdata.org (healthdata.org), by April 2023, 300,000 people may die of covid infection, while the number of deaths may reach 16 lakh by the end of the year.

“Infections are increasing rapidly and hospitals are overflowing. It is quite true that the situation is getting out of control,” said Bevan Alpermann, an expert on Chinese history, civilization and culture at the University of Würzburg in Germany. At least in Beijing and other big cities.”

Conditions worse than expected

Epidemiologist Eric Feigel-Ding tweeted on December 19 that the situation had reached a “thermonuclear bed,” meaning extreme danger. “Within the next 90 days, 60 percent of China’s population and 10 percent of the world’s population could be infected and millions of people could die,” Feigel Ding predicted.

Feigel also posted a photo reminiscent of the early months of the epidemic in 2020, showing patients lying close to each other on the floor in an overcrowded hospital.

Other reports also indicate that corpses are piled up at mortuaries and cremation centers. Thousands of bodies are waiting for last rites. According to Alperman, “There are reports that cremation centers are operating around the clock and the conditions are very disturbing.”

How accurate are these figures?

It is not yet known how many people in China are currently infected with Covid-19 or the number of people who have recently died from the disease. Oliver Redke is a special correspondent for the Heinrich Böll Foundation, an independent political organization in Germany. Redke says that it is not possible to tell how severe the current wave of Covid is based on official data.

“Based on a careful analysis of personal evidence, reading the social media platform WeChat and talking to colleagues and friends, I can say that one-third of the city’s residents are sick,” Redke told DW. One-third are taking care of the sick and one-third don’t dare to go out.”

Alperman said the Chinese government has more or less admitted that its figures are artificially low because it has said it will only count Covid deaths due to lung failure. . Although this is Alperman’s personal analysis, it is clear that the official figures are only partially correct. It is not possible to present a true picture of the current situation of Covid due to the lack of accurate data regarding deaths and victims in China.

What caused the latest covid outbreak in China?

Experts say that the current infection and death rate in China may be due to the fact that the immunity of people in this country is lower than in other countries. Alperman says, “The Chinese government boasted that it had conquered Covid because of its zero-covid strategy. In 2021, it looked like that for a while, but with Omicron, the picture changed dramatically. “

China had followed a zero-covid policy since the start of the pandemic. Under zero-covid, the government implemented mass testing protocols and strict lockdowns and quarantined people infected with Covid-19 in special hospitals.

But now that it has relaxed its lockdown rules, people are coming out in large numbers. On the other hand, the number of booster vaccine recipients in China is low, especially the elderly, who are at high risk of contracting the disease. According to official figures, only one-third of people over 80 years of age and two-thirds of people over 60 years of age have had a booster shot.

“I worry about what will happen once the current wave reaches the less developed parts of the country, especially the western interior,” says Redke. Regardless of the exact figures, Chinese health officials are struggling to contain the spread of the disease, but it is also a cause for concern outside the country.

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