According to many leading scientists, it may be too early to declare the global end of the Covid-19 pandemic emergency as a potentially devastating wave arrives in China. world Health Organization consultants.
His views represent a shift since then. Chinese It has begun scrapping its zero-COVID policy last week after a spike in infections and unprecedented public protests. Projections suggest that the world’s second-largest economy could face more than a million deaths in 2023 after a sudden change in course.
Experts said China’s zero-Kovid approach has kept infections and deaths relatively low among its 1.4 billion population, but a relaxation in rules has changed the global picture.
“The question is whether you can call it a post-pandemic as such an important part of the world is actually just entering its second wave,” said Dutch virologist Marion Koopmans, who is on a WHO committee tasked with advising on the situation of Kovid. emergency.
“It is clear that we are at a very different stage” [of the pandemic]but I think the wave waiting in China is a joker.
As early as September, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the “end is near” for the pandemic. He told reporters in Geneva last week that he was “hopeful” that the emergency would end in 2023.
In the second half of 2022, as the threat of dangerous new variants of the virus or resurgence of infections receded, most countries lifted their Covid restrictions.
Tedros’ earlier comments have raised hopes that the UN agency may soon lift its highest alert level designation for Covid, which has been in effect since January 2020.
Koopmans and other WHO advisory committee members will make their recommendations on the level of alert at the end of January. Tedros makes the final decision and does not have to follow the committee’s advice.
Cities in China on Tuesday struggled to build hospital beds and build fever screening clinicsAuthorities have reported five more deaths, and international concern has risen over Beijing’s surprise decision to allow the virus to circulate freely.
Besides the risks for China, some global health figures have warned that allowing the virus to spread within the country could give it a chance to mutate and create a potentially dangerous new variant.
Currently, Chinese data shared with both the WHO and virus database GISAID show that variants circulating there are globally dominant Omicron and its sub-branches, but the picture is incomplete due to a complete lack of data.
“As a result, it’s not clear whether the wave in China was variable-driven or whether it simply represented a collapse of containment,” said Tom Peacock, a virologist at Imperial College London.
The US on Tuesday said it was ready to help China with its escalating epidemic, warning of an uncontrolled spread there. could have implications for the global economy.
“We stand ready to continue to support countries around the world, including China, on this and other Covid-related health support,” said State Department spokesman Ned Price. “For us it’s not about politics, it’s not about geopolitics.”
When asked whether the US has offered to supply vaccines to China, Price replied, “I won’t get into private discussions, but we have stated publicly many times that we are the largest donor of Covid-19 vaccines in the world.
“We also note that what happened in China has had an impact on the global economy.
“We also know that any situation where the virus spreads widely in an uncontrolled manner anywhere, variants have the potential to emerge.”
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