Hong Kong News

Nonpartisan, Noncommercial, unconstrained.
Thursday, Feb 09, 2023

China’s Covid death toll could near 1 million, HK study shows

China’s Covid death toll could near 1 million, HK study shows

Almost 1 million people in China may die from Covid-19 as the government rapidly abandons pandemic curbs, according to a new study by researchers in Hong Kong.
In the absence of a mass vaccination booster campaign and other measures to reduce the impact of the virus, some 684 people per million would die in a nationwide reopening, according to the report, which was co-authored by Gabriel Leung, the former dean of medicine at the University of Hong Kong.

That would amount to about 964,400 deaths, based on China’s population of 1.41 billion, according to Bloomberg calculations.

Leung’s team was influential in predicting the deadly scale of Hong Kong’s outbreak earlier in the year. Members of his team were part of a group of experts from the city who traveled to Beijing early last month to advise Chinese officials about lifting Covid restrictions nationwide, according to a Financial Times report.

The researchers looked at different scenarios following China’s recent moves to reopen, including the Dec. 7 announcement of 10 measures to roll back core Covid Zero principles such as mandatory testing and lockdowns.

“Our results suggest that local health systems across all provinces would be unable to cope with the surge of Covid-19 cases posed by reopening in December 2022–January 2023,” they wrote.

A more orderly reopening could save lives, according to the report. If China were to wait until January to reopen while first improving rates of vaccination and access to antiviral drugs, the cumulative number of deaths could fall by 26%, the researchers wrote.

Since embarking on a shift away from its zero-tolerance policy just a week ago, China has dismantled most of its internal restrictions, casting aside the stringent playbook used to eliminate the virus for the past three years. The spread is so significant it’s rendered official Covid statistics all but meaningless, and seen hospitals in the capital already overwhelmed. 

A former undersecretary for food and health, Leung is a well-known figure in Hong medical circles. The city’s former leader Carrie Lam has said she tightened Covid restrictions in the city after receiving WhatsApp messages from him.

In early February, when omicron was spreading in Hong Kong, Leung’s computer modeling showed almost 7,000 people could die in that wave by mid-June if the health-care system were overwhelmed. The forecast proved to be an underestimate. More than 9,000 were dead by mid-June.

According to Leung’s latest report, explosive growth of infection rates nationwide could also lead to mutations of the virus. 

A reopening that sees a high R rate — the basic reproduction number for the virus — would “result in a large number of infections that could potentially accelerate mutation, selection and evolution of SARS-CoV-2 viruses,” the researchers wrote. SARS-CoV-2 is the coronavirus that causes Covid.

It’s no longer possible to determine China’s R rate after the government stopped releasing numbers of new asymptomatic cases.

The report was published Wednesday and is a preprint, meaning it hasn’t yet been certified by peer review.

Related Articles

Hong Kong News
China has declined the US's request for Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to speak with Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe after the US Air Force shot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon, according to the Pentagon
The five largest oil companies in the West generated combined profits of nearly $200 billion in 2022, which has led to increased calls for governments to impose tougher windfall taxes
2 earthquakes in Turkey killed over 2,300 people
Powerful Earthquake Strikes Turkey and Syria, Killing More Than 1,300 People.
Turkish photographer Ugur Gallenkus portrays two different worlds within a single image. Brilliant work
Charlie Munger, calls for a ban on cryptocurrencies in the US, following China's lead
Hong Kong airlines taking bold action after the years of pandemic lockdown and travel restrictions, to make Hong Kong great again
EU found a way to use frozen Russian funds
First generation unopened iPhone set to fetch more than $50,000 at auction.
WARNING GRAPHIC CONTENT - US Memphis Police murdering innocent Tyre Nichols
Almost 30% of professionals say they've tried ChatGPT at work
Interpol seeks woman who ran elaborate exam cheating scam in Singapore
Chinese search giant Baidu to launch ChatGPT like AI chatbot.
What is ChatGPT?
Bill Gates is ‘very optimistic’ about the future: ‘Better to be born 20 years from now...than any time in the past’
China is opening up for foreign investors.
Tesla reported record profits and record revenues for 2022
Prince Andrew and Virginia Giuffre Photo Is Fake: Ghislaine Maxwell
Moonwalker Buzz Aldrin Gets Married On His 93rd Birthday
Federal Reserve Probes Goldman’s Consumer Business
China's first population drop in six decades
Microsoft is finalising plans to become the latest technology giant to reduce its workforce during a global economic slowdown
China's foreign ministry branch in Hong Kong urges British gov't to stop the biased and double standards Hong Kong report
China relaxes 'red lines' on property sector borrowing in policy pivot
Tesla slashes prices globally by as much as 20 percent
Japan prosecutors indict man for ex-PM Shinzo Abe murder
Vietnam removes two deputy PMs amid anti-corruption campaign
1.4 Million Copies Of Prince Harry's Memoir 'Spare' Sold On 1st Day In UK
After Failing To Pay Office Rent, Twitter May Sell User Names
FIFA president questioned by prosecutors
Britain's Sunak breaks silence and admits using private healthcare
Hype and backlash as Harry's memoir goes on sale. Unnamed royal source says prince 'kidnapped by cult of psychotherapy and Meghan'
China’s recovery could add 1% to Australia’s GDP: JPMorgan 
Saudi Arabia set to overtake India as fastest-growing major economy this year 
China vows to strengthen financial support for enterprises: official
International medical experts speak out against COVID-19 restrictions on China
2 Billion People To Travel In China's "Great Migration" Over Next 40 Days
Google and Facebook’s dominance in digital ads challenged by rapid ascent of Amazon and TikTok
Flight constraints expected to weigh on China travel rebound
Billionaire Jack Ma relinquishes control of Ant Group
FTX fraud investigators are digging deeper into Sam Bankman-Fried's inner circle – and reportedly have ex-engineer Nishad Singh in their sights
Teslas now over 40% cheaper in China than US
TikTok CEO Plans to Meet European Union Regulators
UK chaos: Hong Kong emigrants duped by false prospectus
China seeks course correction in US ties but will fight ‘all forms of hegemony’, top diplomat Wang Yi says
China will boost spending in 2023
African traders welcome end of China’s Covid travel curbs
France has banned the online sale of paracetamol until February, citing ongoing supply issues
Japan reportedly to give families 1 million yen per child to move out of Tokyo
Will Canada ever become a real democracy?