China reports 1st COVID-19 deaths in weeks

China reports first COVID-19-related death in weeks as domestic cases surge Removal of many so-called ‘zero COVID’ policies.

death, this is reported on monday Issued by the National Health Commission and occurred in Beijing, the first case since records began December 4th.

No information was available on the death, including the patient’s name, age, sex and vaccination status.

For most pandemics, China has imposed strict measures, including widespread lockdowns and mass testing, to prevent outbreaks.

But in the past few months, there have been Outcry and growing public resentment The disruption to daily life has led Beijing to ease some restrictions, such as allowing people to isolate at home and schools with no known infections to resume classes.

Customers buy medicines at a pharmacy after the local government distributed more fever-reducing medicines to the market after the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, China, December 19, 2022.

China Daily/VIA Reuters

However, a combination of undervaccination and a large unprotected vulnerable population will result in many more deaths, a public health expert told ABC News.

“The current new policy will cause a large portion of China’s population to become infected with COVID,” said Dr. Ali Mokdad, an epidemiologist and chief strategy officer at the Population Health Program at the University of Washington. “Somehow, they will get infected.”

According to the NHC, China has recorded just 5,237 COVID-19 deaths since the start of the pandemic — far fewer than other Western countries have reported, but experts say it may be an undercount.According to data from Johns Hopkins Universitymore than 16,000 people have died in China since the pandemic began.

Mokdad said health officials included only those who died directly from COVID-19 in the official death toll. Those with underlying medical conditions exacerbated by the virus or who tested positive for COVID incidentally were excluded.

However, he expects the death toll to rise in the coming weeks and months.

A mathematical model by the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation suggests that nearly 323,000 people in China could have died from COVID-19 by April 1 as a result of the policy shift.

One reason the death toll may rise is the lack of effective vaccines.

In China, the Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine will be administered from June 2021 upon receipt of the vaccine emergency use authorization. according to World Health Organization87% of the population has been vaccinated, but the government says more than 90% are vaccinated China Dailya state-run newspaper.

according to WHO, the Sinovac vaccine is 100% effective against severe COVID-19.However, a yale research The two-dose regimen was found not to generate neutralizing antibodies against the omicron variants.

Booster rate also lags behind 69.7% of those aged 60 and over As of December 15, 40% of which over 80 years old According to China Daily, as of early November,

“No matter what China does, the simple fact is that they have a very susceptible population, a vaccine that is not as effective against the omicron, reduced immunity and a lot of older population that is not vaccinated, there will be a lot of hospitalizations and more people died,” Mokdad said.

Another reason the death toll may rise is due to under-vaccination and lack of exposure to the virus, many people do not have natural or vaccine-derived antibodies due to the lockdown under the zero-COVID policy.

“They don’t know anything about COVID like you and me, they’ve been vaccinated or they’ve had COVID-19 or both,” he said. “So, instead of naively coping with it, our body remembers it and then it defends.”

He continued, “Many Chinese people don’t have that luxury. We are most worried about the elderly because they are not vaccinated, and the zero COVID policy has protected them from infection in the past.”

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