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China risks 1.6 million dead if it lifts restrictions

Beijing, China

A study by Fudan University in Shanghai pointed out that China is at risk of registering about 1.6 million deaths if it moderates or reduces measures to prevent and control Covid-19.

The peer-reviewed study, published in the journal Nature, concluded that the highly contagious Ómicron variant of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus was going to overwhelm the country’s hospital system, due to the low vaccination rate among the elderly and the lower effectiveness of vaccines. domestic inoculations.

The model, developed jointly by Chinese and US experts, suggested the outbreak would cause 112 million symptomatic cases, or 80 cases per 1,000 people, with 2.7 million requiring intensive care treatment.

During the peak, demand for intensive care would exceed current capacity by 16 times, according to the mathematical model used to simulate a hypothetical Omicron outbreak in China, based on data from the situation in Shanghai (east).

The researchers estimated that unvaccinated people over the age of 60 would be responsible for three-quarters (74.7%) of deaths, considering that 52 million people in this age group were not fully vaccinated as of mid-March.

In the best-case scenario, in which all symptomatic cases would be treated with the oral antiviral drug Paxlovid, developed by pharmaceutical Pfizer and approved in China, hospitalizations and deaths could be reduced by nearly 89%, they added.

To bring the death toll down to a level comparable to China’s annual seasonal flu death count of around 88,000, researchers said vaccine adherence among the elderly is expected to reach 97%, and that more than half of Symptomatic infections should be treated with antiviral therapies.

“In the long term, improving ventilation, strengthening critical care capacity and developing highly effective new vaccines with long-term immunological persistence would be top priorities,” the team said.

China is facing the worst outbreak of Covid-19 since it contained the first cases of the disease in Wuhan (center) in 2020.

The country’s mass vaccination campaign was based on vaccines developed internally by pharmaceutical companies Sinopharm and Sinovac.

Both vaccines offer some protection against serious illness, hospitalization and death in case of Omicron variant infection, according to a World Health Organization (WHO) assessment, but have lower efficacy rates than some inoculations used elsewhere. of the world.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the country has recorded 5,191 deaths and 220,397 cases of Covid-19.

The disease has caused more than six million deaths and more than 510 million infections worldwide, according to data from the US Johns Hopkins University.

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