China’s abrupt and under-prepared exit from zero-Covid could lead to nearly 1 million deaths, according to a new study, as the country braces for an unprecedented wave of infections spreading out from its biggest cities to its vast rural areas.
For nearly three years, the Chinese government has used strict lockdowns, centralized quarantines, mass testing and rigorous contact tracing to curb the spread of the virus. That costly strategy was abandoned earlier this month, following an explosion of protests across the country against stringent restrictions that have upended businesses and daily life.
But experts have warned that the country is poorly prepared for such a drastic exit, having fallen short on bolstering the elderly vaccination rate, upping surge and intensive care capacity in hospitals, and stockpiling antiviral medications.
Under the current conditions, a nationwide reopening could result in up to 684 deaths per million people, according to the projections by three professors at the University of Hong Kong.
Given China’s population of 1.4 billion people, that would amount to 964,400 deaths. [Continue reading…]