Over a Million People Could Die of Omicron in China

More than a million people could die of Omicron in China unless it takes action to boost its elderly population with a Western COVID-19 vaccine, according to a new analysis by Airfinity.

Potential cumulative deaths in China
Potential cumulative deaths in China

The analysis shows that, although China vaccinated 80% of its population over the age of 60, Chinese people have low protection because its Sinovac and Sinopharm vaccines – used to inoculate the majority of citizens – have significantly lower efficacy and provide less protection against infection and death. In addition, only 40% of Chinese people have taken a booster shot, the report showed.

Airfinity compared China to nearby Hong Kong, which has experienced one of the most devastating waves of infections and deaths caused by COVID-19 which has been attributed to low protection levels due to reliance on less efficacious Chinese vaccines and a lack of community immunity.

“The death rate in Hong Kong is the highest in the world and much higher than Western countries have ever experienced, peaking at 37.6 daily deaths per million – more than double the United Kingdom’s peak in January 2021,” according to the report.

The case fatality rate (CFR) is 20 times higher than in New Zealand, which also had a “zero COVID” policy and relied heavily on Chinese vaccines.

“Should China have similar levels of protection, they too could experience a very high CFR,” writes Airfinity.

Case fatality ratio over time for countries
Case fatality ratio over time for countries

However, “most of these deaths can be prevented,” the team advised. “If China faced an Omicron wave with protection levels similar to New Zealand, our analysis shows deaths could be reduced to 45,000. China could bolster protection in its population by administering booster jabs with higher efficacy vaccines.”

Airfinity said that there are enough alternative vaccines that could be redistributed immediately to jab 54% of China’s population and save their lives.

Image Credits: Flickr, Airfinity.

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