China records more than a million new infections a day and daily deaths stand at 5,000 people, according to new estimates by an analytics company. China has been facing backlash for not sharing its actual data on COVID-19.
The estimates were made by London-based Airfinity, which also predicted a continuous rise in cases in China with two expected peaks, one in mid-January and the second in early March.
“China has stopped mass testing and is no longer reporting asymptomatic cases. The combination means the official data is unlikely to be a true reflection of the outbreak being experienced across the country,” said Airfinity’s head of vaccines and epidemiology, Dr Louise Blair.
In November, Airfinity published an analysis on the death risk in the country, with a Covid-19 death estimation between 1.3 and 2.1 million people soon afte China had lifted its ‘Zero-Covid’ policy which, along with its not so effective vaccines, has left the people with inadequate immunity to survive with the virus.
Blair also observed that China has modified its considerations of Covid-19 deaths and only considers people who die from respiratory failure or pneumonia after testing positive. He said, “This is different to other countries that record deaths within a time frame of a positive test or where Covid-19 is recorded to have attributed to the cause of death. This change could downplay the extent of deaths seen in China.”
WHO calls on China to report transparently
The new observations were stated by the company that came hours after World Health Organization director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stated that the international health organization was concerned over the situation in China and that “more detailed information on disease severity, hospital admissions and requirement for ICU support” was required.
Ghebreyesus spoke at a press conference late on Wednesday, and said the WHO “is very concerned over the evolving situation in China, with increasing reports of severe disease”.
He also curged China to be more honest with information relating to the origin of the pandemic. “…gaps in our understanding of how this pandemic began compromise our ability to prevent future pandemics. We continue to call on China to share the data and conduct the studies we have requested, and which we continue to request. As I have said many times before, all hypotheses about the origins of this pandemic remain on the table,” he said.
The previous 48 hours have seen indicators of overcrowded hospitals and a stream of funerals, which supports the assertion that China’s true death toll from COVID was far greater than the single-digit figures it has just announced.
China’s collapsing health system
President Xi Jinping implemented strictest measures to weed out coronavirus, but his sudden removal of ‘Zero-Covid Policy’ three weeks back amidst countrywide protests and a massive outbreak of COVID-19 has China struggling for treatment as its public health system collapses.
Hospitals are a site of patients fighting with doctors to get drugs that are in shortage, like cough medicines and pain killers. Medical practitioners are in abundance, whereas infected staff works day and night due to scarcity of personnel.
“The policy of controlling covid was relaxed very suddenly,” said Nora, a 30-year-old doctor. “The hospitals should’ve been notified in advance to make adequate preparations.”
Without a prior preparations of medical supplies, the health system lays in chaos. Medicines are in shortage, testing kits and total breakage in logistics have turned the daily life upside down. Four hospital workers told British news agency Reuters that improper planning for the closing of zero-COVID policy had made them helpless as they struggle through an unprepared system.
“I think China thought that its policy was successful and that a gradual transition to the endemic phase was feasible, but obviously it was not,” said Kenji Shibuya, a former senior adviser to the World Health Organisation.
The failure to vaccinate the elderly and fail to inform the public of an exit strategy, as well as an overzealous focus on eradicating the virus, were cited by more than a dozen global health experts, epidemiologists, residents, and political analysts interviewed by Reuters as contributing factors to the strain on China’s medical infrastructure.
China has made huge expenditure on prevention facilities like quarantine and testing during the past three years but did not work more on improving hospitals, clinics and training medical staff.