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China may witness surge in COVID cases if it ‘opens up’, says study

A study conducted by mathematicians at Peking University and published in China CDC Weekly by the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, has said that the country may see around 637,155 daily cases if it adopts the pandemic strategy of the United States

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In the backdrop of an emerging new variant and a fresh wave of infections in Europe, scientists have warned that China’s daily COVID-19 infections could peak to 630,000 cases if the country discontinued its zero-tolerance policy by lifting curbs on travel.

A study conducted by mathematicians at Peking University and published in China CDC Weekly by the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, the researchers have said that China needs more efficient vaccinations or specific treatments for it to completely lift travel restrictions.

The researchers used data from the US, UK, Spain, France and Israel to see if tactics used by these countries to control infections would work in China. The results were not so encouraging: the mathematicians found that China would witness around 275,793 cases daily if it followed Britain’s pandemic strategy, and record 454,198 daily infections if it took France’s example. The daily cases would hit a whopping 637,155 if China replicated the pandemic strategy of the United States, the study found.

“The estimates revealed the real possibility of a colossal outbreak which would almost certainly induce an unaffordable burden on the medical system,” the report said.

Also read: China grapples with resurgence of Delta variant as cases surge in Dalian

“Our findings have raised a clear warning that, for the time being, we are not ready to embrace ‘open-up’ strategies resting solely on the hypothesis of herd immunity induced by vaccination advocated by certain western countries,” the report added.

The mathematicians, however, have clarified that their estimates are only based on basic arithmetic calculations and more sophisticated models are required to conduct an in-depth study into the matter.

The US in November lifted restrictions on international travel which had been in place for more than a year and a half, while the United Kingdom lifted international travel ban for people who have been vaccinated with WHO-approved jabs.

The US and a number of EU nations, however, the past few days have suspended flights from countries where the new COVID-19 variant Omicron has been reported.

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