The London-based global health intelligence and analysis firm said between 1.3 million and 2.1 million lives would be at risk if China reversed its zero-COVID policy, given low vaccination and booster rates and lack of mixed immunity.
According to Airfinity’s analysis, “Mainland China’s population has very low levels of immunity. Its citizens are vaccinated with domestically produced vaccines Sinovac and Sinopharm, which have been shown to be significantly less effective and less protective against infection and death.”
The global health intelligence firm has said China’s zero-COVID strategy also means the population has little natural immunity acquired through previous infection.
“As a result of these factors, our analysis suggests that if mainland China experienced a wave similar to Hong Kong’s in February, its healthcare system could be pushed to capacity as there could be between 16.7 and 279 million cases nationwide, which could lead to 1.3 and 2.1 million deaths,” it added.
Dr. Louise Blair, head of vaccines and epidemiology at Airfinity, said China must ramp up vaccinations to boost immunity to reverse its zero-COVID policy, especially given its large elderly population. “Subsequently, China will need hybrid immunity to allow the country to meet future waves with minimal impact.”
“This has been proven effective in other countries; for example, while Hong Kong’s efforts to vaccinate vulnerable groups before opening up may only blunt the impact of the first wave, through mixed immunity against large-scale infections, it protection has been enhanced, significantly reducing the impactful and deadly wave of COVID-19,” he added.
On Monday, Chinese health authorities announced two deaths from the coronavirus, both in Beijing, in the worst outbreak since the COVID pandemic began.
According to CNN, this is the first officially reported death since restrictions were significantly eased on December 7. Meanwhile, posts on Chinese social media pointed to a surge in demand at funeral homes and crematoria in Beijing.
(Aside from the title, this story is unedited by NDTV staff and published via a syndicated feed.)