Covid: What triggered China's deadly wave and should the world worry?



CHINA COVID WAVE: China is witnessing a sudden surge in Covid cases and also deaths at a time when the rest of the world,including India has been reporting few infections on daily basis since past several months. Chinese health system, according to various reports, is under pressure as infections, deaths have spiralled. The present situation in China has raised new concerns about the pandemic. The big question is  - why Covid cases are rising in China now and whether the world is staring at another deadly wave?

Why Covid cases rising in China, now?

  • According to experts, after the very first wave of the Covid virus in China, the Xi Jinping administration resorted to the 'zero-covid policy' leading to very strict lockdown situations which didn't allow people to get exposed to newer sub-variants like Delta or Omicron
  • Due to this, the average level of immunity among the Chinese people didn't boost upto to a level as it happened in rest of the world. 
  • As the majority of Chinese population wasn't exposed to various sub-variants of virus at large, the easing down of zero-covid policy now is leading to a large number of infections.
  • Experts are of the view that the efficacy of the Chinese-home-made vaccines are not up to the level of foreign-made mRNA vaccines, as the former provide only 50 per cent efficacy.
  • What further adds to this is an unanswered question -- what percentage of Chinese population is vaccinated against the virus?
  • China has a huge vulnerable elderly population that is unvaccinated or undervaccinated — roughly 130 million people. Mortality in this group would be likely very high. Top epidemiologist Eric Feigl-Ding has projected that death toll could be anywhere between 1-2 million. 

 

 

 

Should the world be concerned over China's situation?

  • Since there is no accurate data available now from China as to how the new sub-variant of Omicron BF.7 - which is driving this new wave - is mutating, its difficult to answer whether the world would see another wave of Covid. 
  • According to Eric Feigl-Ding, almost 60 per cent of China and 10 per cent of world will be affected by new Covid waves.
  • Let's hope that the situation doesn't arrise as the rest of the world is better vaccinated and have better immunity after being exposed to the earlier versions of the virus. 
  • As far as India is concerned, the country has been witnessing a steady decline in cases with average daily cases falling to 153 and weekly positivity down to 0.14% in the week ending December 22, 2022 thanks to the robust and effective vaccination program.