China Covid Deaths: Study Says Beijing Can Reduce Toll From 1.5 Million to 200,000

Even as China is recording a huge surge in Covid-19 cases and fatalities, a new study has said the death toll can be brought down from 1.5 million projected earlier. The new study says that Beijing can limit the toll to less than 200,000 if it it rolls out public health measures like increasing the vaccination rates and making essential medical supplies available.

Flatten The Curve

Researchers from the University of Macau and Harvard Medical School, had said earlier that if China fails to implement the "flatten the curve" strategy, as many as 1.27 billion people would be infected with the Covid-19 virus, resulting in the deaths of a whopping 1.5 million people in the next six months.

Covid disinfectant
Chinese authorities spraying Covid disinfectant. Twitter

The study, which was posted on medRxiv and is yet to be peer-reviewed, adds Beijing can adopt a range of range of milder and non-pharmaceutical mitigation measures that can control the infection rates, reported the South China Morning Post.

China's Covid-19 fight would revolve around two main strategies, according to the study. First, the country should make sure at least 90 percent of the population receive three doses of mRNA vaccines. Secondly, Chian should ensure that at least 75 percent of the people who are infected with the virus should have access to antiviral treatment Paxlovid.

The Obstacles

The main obstacle to the success of the strategy is that mRNA vaccines are not available in the country as yet. China had heavily depended on its own indigenousy developed vaccines to fight the pandemic. China has been extremely reluctant in approving foreign vaccines and medicines as it tried to contain the raging coronavirus infection.

Coronavirus
Workers of Junjiang Industrial Limited Company produce medical masks. Xinhua/IANS

China had also faced criticism after the Sinovac vaccines failed to contain the virus spread in the last two years. People vaccinated with the China-manufactured vaccines turned out to be highly ineffective as vaccinated people became more prone to infections. Despite the failure of its vaccines, China had stubbornly refused to accept foreign vaccines.

23 Million Elderly People Haven't Got One Dose of Vaccine

It was only last week that China partially allowed the use of the BioNTech vaccine, limiting it only for use by the German nationals living in the country. China's staggering failure in vaccination roll-out was clear in the fact that more than 23 million vulnerable people above the age of 60 in China had not got even the first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.

Beijing's shortcoming on the vaccine front stood out starkly in comparison with the way the Indian government successfully rolled out home-developed vaccines to prevent big surges in virus infection. According to a World Health Organisation analysis, while the effectiveness of Indian vaccines was 99.30 percent, the Chinese vaccines' effectiveness was less than 80 percent. Another study by the University of Hong Kong estimated that the Chinese vaccines' effectiveness was lower, at just 60 percent.

Paxlovid Approval Came Late

Paxlovid
Paxlovid Twitter

Secondly, China has only recently approved the use of Paxlovid for Covid treatment. Had it given the green light earlier for the Pfizer drug, supplies of the medicines would have been good enough in the local market to make an impact on virus control. It was reported that Paxlovid supplies were sold out in some cities as soon as they were approved.

Paxlovid, an oral antiviral medication, is made up of two generic pills that can be used in the treatment of people with higher risks from Covid-19. According to Health News, patients who take Paxlovid within three days of infection have an 89% lower chance of death or need hospitalization. As of now, Paxlovid is the only foreign medicine the Chinese regulators have approved for the treatment.

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