Modellers Predict 1.5 Million Deaths in China if Lockdown is Lifted – But that is Less Than Half the U.K. Covid Death Rate

It appears that China has its own version of lockdown doom-modeller Neil Ferguson and his team. A paper in Nature from a team of Chinese and U.S. researchers has used a model to predict over 1.5 million deaths in China from Omicron should the country cease to impose its brutal controls. The following is from the South China Morning Post.

China could see more than 1.5 million deaths from a wave of Omicron infections without COVID-19 controls and the use of antiviral therapies, a new study has forecast.

A model by Chinese and U.S. researchers suggested that, given China’s vaccine efficacy and coverage, an unchecked outbreak that began with 20 cases of Omicron in March could “generate a tsunami of COVID-19 cases” between May and July.

Such an outbreak is projected to cause 112 million symptomatic cases, or 80 cases per 1,000 people, with 2.7 million of them requiring treatment in intensive care…

The researchers used a mathematical model to simulate a hypothetical Omicron wave in China based on data from the Shanghai outbreak.

“Should the Omicron outbreak continue unabated, despite a primary vaccination coverage of more than 90% and homologous booster vaccination [boosting with the same vaccine] coverage of more than 40% as of March 2022, we project that the Chinese healthcare system will be overwhelmed with a considerable shortage of ICUs,” they wrote.

They estimated that the peak demand of 1 million intensive care beds would be almost 16 times the existing total of 64,000 beds, with a shortage lasting 44 days.

The estimates are based on the experiences in Hong Kong and Shanghai – which makes it hard to see why they would suppose peak ICU demand will exceed capacity by 16 times as that does not appear to have been Hong Kong’s experience, unless China is desperately under-resourced in ICU capacity.

It is true that Hong Kong had a nasty March. However, the scale shouldn’t be exaggerated. Hong Kong’s Omicron wave was almost identical to the U.K.’s 2020-21 winter Alpha wave – the U.K. suffered 1,240 deaths per million against Hong Kong’s 1,210. It is curious that for Hong Kong the deadly wave occurred with the Omicron variant, which has been mostly mild elsewhere, but that oddity doesn’t change the overall numbers. The U.K.’s ICUs were not overwhelmed during the winter of 2020-21, though it was extremely busy.

One and a half million deaths sounds a lot, but actually if China were to experience the same death rate as Hong Kong (1,200 per million) the figure would be slightly higher at 1.7 million. Again, that seems a big number, but China is a big country of 1.4 billion people, and the predicted death rate is less than half the 2,600 deaths per million the U.K. has experienced so far. China’s overall annual death rate is 7,180 per million, or 10 million deaths in total, so 1.7 million Covid deaths would only be 17% of ordinary annual mortality – many of whom would be frail people who would be expected to be part of ordinary mortality anyway.

In other words, for once the modelling, at least in terms of deaths, may be realistic, but that doesn’t mean it’s any reason to panic, cripple the economy or trample on citizens’ rights.

Meanwhile, North Korea has reported its first official outbreak and has now declared a “maximum emergency” and ordered all cities and counties in the nation of 25 million to lock down.

The madness continues.

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