Following Beijing’s decision earlier this month to abruptly relax its strict Covid mitigation policies, Covid cases are spiking in China where nearly 37 million people may have been infected with COVID-19 on a single day this week.
According to minutes from the latest internal meeting of China’s National Health Commission, as many as 248 million people – or nearly 18% of China’s total population – became infected with Covid during the first 20 days of December.
No information on Covid-related deaths was presented at the meeting.
Per a preprint paper published this month in medRxiv, modelers’ predictions say that if it continues along its current path, China could see close to one million deaths in the coming months.
However, after mass testing via a vast network of PCR testing booths was abandoned earlier this month since most people started using rapid antigen tests at home, the Chinese National health authorities stopped announcing asymptomatic cases so obtaining accurate estimates has been more difficult.
Underscoring challenges faced by China’s healthcare system, the fast-spreading Covid infections are also causing blood shortages at hospitals in many provinces and cities, prompting the Blood Center of Shandong Province – the second most populous in China- to issue red alert warnings for insufficient inventory for two blood types.
Noting that the next few months are going to be quite challenging for China, the director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, Christopher Murray, pointed out that as is the case with China, populations in the world that have avoided a lot of transmissions and have gaps in vaccination are at greatest risk.
As the estimates pointed out, since the government in Beijing lifted its zero-Covid restrictions earlier this month more than half of the residents of China’s southwest province of Sichuan and the country’s capital Beijing have been infected.