Experts estimate that China has seen more than 1 million deaths from COVID-19 since the epidemic restrictions were lifted last December, according to the Guardian newspaper.
Chinese health authorities said about 80 percent of the country’s population has contracted COVID-19 since the restrictions were lifted in early December, which means that the coronavirus infection has passed to 1.2 billion people.
These numbers prompted some experts to estimate that the number of deaths related to the emerging coronavirus in China in less than two months may exceed one million deaths.
These estimates are much higher than the official figures approved by the Chinese authorities, which amount to about 72 deaths across China.
University of Sydney infectious disease doctor Robert Bowie said the death toll was likely to be between 600,000 and one million.
Bowie and other experts who spoke to the Guardian added that the virus may already be spreading on a much larger scale than was known before restrictions were lifted.
He continued, “China may have abandoned their zero Covid policy in the first week of December, but they were already flopping and failing.”
He noted that China could lose 850,000 people in the coming weeks – most of them elderly people who have not been fully vaccinated, he said.
Chinese officials downplayed the epidemic wave that the country is facing, saying that the worst is over in its battle with the epidemic.
But there is much skepticism about China’s version of the spread of the virus, which has overwhelmed hospitals and crematoriums since Beijing abandoned strict COVID-19 restrictions and mass testing.--
China was swept by a wave of infections driven by a series of the Omicron variant and its related variants, after the government abruptly ended its own policy and lifted all restrictions shortly before the start of the Lunar New Year and the Spring Festival.-
On Saturday, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention said that about 80 percent of the country’s 1.41 billion people have been infected in this wave.
In the week leading up to the Lunar New Year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 12,658 deaths, adding to the official number of pandemic deaths by about 60,000, which most observers believe is a much lower figure.
The World Health Organization had accused the Chinese government of lacking transparency in providing data related to the epidemic. On the other hand, Beijing rejects the accusations and defended the abrupt cancellation of the “zero Covid” policy.
Shi Chen, associate professor of health policy and economics at Yale University, said no one had enough data to accurately measure the number of deaths in China.
However, he said that assuming that China has a lower fatality rate of 0.11 percent actually indicates that about 1.23 million people have died from the coronavirus.
The director of the Institute of Global Health at the University of Geneva, Antoine Flahault, based his estimate on excess mortality rates – the number of deaths from all causes that exceed the average – in other countries that experienced the first major waves of Covid.
“If we take Hong Kong as an example, these days there is an excess death rate … which is close to 2,000 deaths per million. If you transfer that rate to China, it comes to just under 3 million deaths,” he said.
“If we take Brazil, the number is closer to 4,000 deaths per million, so it’s double,” Flaholt added.