With tens of millions of infections per week, a new corona wave is currently rolling through China. The number of infections has been rising steadily for weeks. In Beijing alone, Covid-19 has been the predominant virus among all infectious diseases for four weeks, the capital’s health commission announced on Friday. Schools in some parts of China have been urged to be vigilant and take preventive measures.
Leading Chinese epidemiologist Zhong Nanshan expects the wave to peak at the end of June with around 65 million new infections per week. The increase is “expected”. According to state media, he currently assumes about 40 million infections per week. Experts pointed to the waning immunity after the massive corona wave in December and January, when according to vague estimates 80 to 90 percent of China’s 1.4 billion people became infected.
Official data on the number of winter deaths are not available. Estimates by foreign experts assume about one million. According to media reports, the Ministry of Administrative Affairs has postponed the regular publication expected on Wednesday on the number of deaths in the fourth quarter of 2022. The crematoria were overwhelmed by the large number of corona deaths.
After nearly three years, the Chinese government abruptly abandoned its strict zero-Covid strategy of lockdowns, enforced quarantines and mass testing in early December – with hospitals unprepared. However, a wave as large as then is not expected now. However, health authorities warned that the elderly and sick remain at particular risk.
New variant is spreading fast
The XXB omicron variant, which spreads faster and escapes the immune system more easily, is predominant. However, there are no significant changes in the course of the disease. Experts in the state media said anyone infected over the winter could expect milder symptoms if they became infected again. Epidemiologist Eric Feigl-Ding criticized on Twitter for downplaying the “worrying” surge in recent days.
Critics pointed out that the vaccination campaign has not been continued intensively since the winter. Authorities reported that two vaccines specifically targeting the XXB variant have now been approved. However, when they will hit the market is unclear. It just said “soon”. Modern mRNA vaccines from abroad are still not approved in China. On the other hand, there are no vaccines against the XXB strain in the EU or the US, the epidemiologist Feigl-Ding stressed.
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