Although the country’s commitment to eliminating any and all cases of the coronavirus remained strong just a few months ago, China is currently caught in one of the world’s the worst viral waves since the beginning of the pandemic. In fact, some scientists speculate that as much 800 million natural persons, or 60 percent of China’s population could contract the virus during the peak, and some say as many as one million they could succumb to their disease.
So why are coronavirus cases rising so strongly in China right now?
The reason, say the expertsis that the country’s insufficient immunity and medical infrastructure undermine its capabilities to fight the virus. China implemented an aggressive and “unstable” approach that revolves around testing requirements, travel restrictions, quarantines and suspensions.
Until relatively soon, the Chinese authorities once made it their mission to completely suppress the coronavirus. But the sudden abandonment of that goal leaves many of the country’s 1.4 billion residents extremely susceptible to infection, with few hospitals ready to help.
That’s what you’ll want to know.
Like many other countries, China implemented a zero-tolerance approach to the coronavirus at the beginning of the pandemic. In this approach, the created state mass testing sites and requires negative test results to access an assortment of public spaces such as supermarkets and parks. In addition, it was necessary to isolate the infected persons specific isolation sites and fulfilled full exclusions in an attempt to limit the spread of infections in the country’s cities.
As the coronavirus continues to circulate in its second and third year, many countries moved away from these tools for full containment, although China was not one of those countries. Instead, Chinese authorities continued their attempts to eradicate the coronavirus. And until recently, they mostly succeeded in this goal.
Still today, the number of coronavirus cases and deaths in China lags far behind those of comparably large countries. And information from World Health Organization substantiates this by showing that China is almost 11 million cases and 33 thousand deaths pales in comparison to that of the US 100 million cases and 1 million deaths (although there are a few characters that the reports coming from China are not entirely accurate).
However, protecting the country from the coronavirus has come at a cost to the people. For example, strict “Zero-COVID” policies have led people in certain parts of the country to struggle to find food and contributed to tragediesinclusive the death of 10 people in an apartment fire during a stopover in Xinjiang Province.
In addition to antipathy to these policies, “Zero-COVID” has also begun I staggerwithout stopping the waves of increasingly portable virus variantsincluding individual products from the Omicron family.
Eventually, resistance to the draconian Zero-COVID approach erupted wave of protests against the tactic in November 2022. And although authorities have already announced their intention to scale back their containment tactics according to a phased 20-point processthey quickly tossed those plans aside in December, ruling out any possibility of a slow exit from “Zero-COVID” and inviting a flood of coronavirus cases into their country in the process.
Although the scale of this surge continues to astound scientists, thanks in part to a lack of accurate information from Chinese authorities, government reports indicate that as much as 250 million individuals contracted the coronavirus from December 1 to December 20.
Making matters worse, while the Chinese authorities terminated theirs daily messages coronavirus deaths since the start of the surge, some sources stated that almost 19,000 individuals fell from the disease daily.
Whatever the specific extent of the wave, the virus is believed to be spreading faster in China today than in any other environment and at any other time since the start of COVID. In fact, while one sick individual in the US typically transmitted the virus to two to three others at the start of the pandemic in 2020 and to 10 or 11 others at the start of Omicron’s peak in 2021, one individual in China, according to NPRinfecting an average of about 16 others in the current spike.
And scientists say insufficient immunity and infrastructure are to blame. Buried by policies that promised the complete eradication of the coronavirus, protections provided by boosting immunity and investing in healthcare have been ignored in China, ensuring that a serious wave will occur as soon as the approach is abandoned.
COVID-19 waves, immunity and infrastructure
Thanks in part to the country’s control of the coronavirus, only a small fraction of people possessed the immunity provided by a previous infection at the start of the ongoing surge. However, the lack of immunity in the country is also a consequence of its vaccinations.
All around 90 percent of China’s population was armed. But at one point or another, with the one-shot defense, say some scientists that weaker vaccines and the lack of vaccines among China’s vulnerable population are also contributing to the surge.
In China, people tend to stick with one of two types of vaccines that administer inactive versions of the virus to boost immunity. But both vaccines developed by Sinovac and Sinopharmprovide less protection for the elderly than mRNA vaccines from developers such as Pfizer and Modern.
In fact, according to a 2022 surveytwo doses of the Sinovac injection provide only approx 70 percent protection against severe disease and death in adults 70 and older, while two doses of Pfizer provide 90 percent protection for the same population. And while three doses increase the protection of both vaccines to approx 98 percent, some research also suggest that these enhancements fade more rapidly with Sinovac than with Pfizer for individuals of all ages.
Experts also add that the inadequacy of the country’s medical infrastructure makes it much more difficult to withstand any increase in coronavirus cases, as its medical centers contain only 3.6 intensive care beds per 100,000 people (compared to Singapore 11.4 and that of South Korea 10.6for example).
Ultimately, the scientists say, an alternative, gradual approach to the abandonment of Zero-COVID measures may have mitigated the severity of this spike. According to the same team of scientists that predicted one million deaths, the casualties from this surge may have been reduced by that much 35 percent if proper precautions were taken before the transition.
In the absence of that, however, Chinese authorities must work at breakneck speed to boost immunity and improve medical infrastructure.