‘Thermonuclear Bad’: Covid-19 Doubling Time Is Now ‘Hours’ In China, Experts Warn As Cases Rise

Covid-19 cases in China are on the rise, with epidemiologists estimating that over 60 per cent of the country’s population is likely to be infected with the disease over the next 90 days. About 10 per cent of the world’s population is likely to be infected with Covid-19 over the same period, and millions of deaths could occur. Dr Eric Feigl-Ding, an American scientist working as an epidemiologist at the New England Complex Systems Institute, has called the Covid-19 situation in China ‘thermonuclear bad’, apparently stating that the scenario is as impactful as thermonuclear reactions. 

The Indian government has said that a new and highly transmissible strain of the Omicron subvariant, called BF.7, is responsible for the Covid-19 surge in China. 

What the epidemiologist says about China’s Covid-19 situation

In a thread of tweets, the epidemiologist explained the Covid-19 situation in China. He wrote that hospitals have been completely overwhelmed in China ever since restrictions were dropped. 

Feigl-Ding said the summary of the Communist Party of China’s current Covid-19 goal is: “Let whoever needs to be infected infected, let whoever needs to die die. Early infections, early deaths, early peak, early resumption of production.” 

The epidemiologist also shared a video showing dead bodies of people who he claimed to have died because of Covid-19. He said the video shows the bodies of people who lost their lives to Covid-19 in China in one night. 

Covid-19 doubling rate in China is now “hours”

According to some experts, Covid-19 is spreading faster than ever in China, and possibly 800 million people could be infected with the disease over the next few months. 

According to an article published by NPR, Xi Chen, an expert on China’s healthcare system, said that recently, the deputy director of the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention announced through the public media that the first Covid-19 wave in China might infect around 60 per cent of the population. 

Epidemiologist Ben Cowling said SARS-CoV-2 is spreading faster in China than its spread ever before anywhere during the pandemic. He explained that the reproductive number of the virus, or the R number, which tells the average number of people an infected person spreads the disease to, is currently 16, which is a really high level of transmissibility. 

Cowling added that last winter, cases in the United States doubled every three days or so, but now, in China, the doubling time is probably “hours”.

If the doubling time remains so high, it will become difficult to conduct PCR tests at a fast pace.

Deaths are underreported in China, according to Feigl-Ding 

Citing a report by RFI, Feigl-Ding said the deaths in mainland China are hugely underreported. The sharp rise in deaths has resulted in a recent explosion in funeral services, he added. 

Feigl-Ding said for instance, cremation in Beijing has increased manifold. Citing the RFI report, he wrote that on December 17, about 2,000 dead bodies were waiting to be cremated. Funeral homes are on the run the whole day.

Feigl-Ding said that people went to factories to buy pharmaceuticals such as ibuprofen. These medicines relieve the symptoms of Covid-19.

Citing a report by Bloomberg, which said China is paying the price for Xi Jinping’s ‘zero-Covid’ retreat, the epidemiologist wrote that one to two million deaths in China is very likely. 

Schools will remain closed in Shanghai and many other Chinese cities hit by COVID outbreaks till next month. Feigl-Ding wrote that this comes weeks after strict Covid-19 restrictions were lifted.

Vaccination status in China

According to the epidemiologist, vaccination resistance has been observed in the elderly population of late. He also said that three doses of China’s CoronaVac might not be enough for new variants that have high transmissibility and infection rates. 

Feigl-Ding wrote that an aerosolized vaccine, recently approved by China, which must be delivered in a nebulised form, produced a greater antibody response than intramuscular vaccines, and increased antibody levels more than nine times.

The vaccine, developed by CanSino Biologics, is the world’s first inhaled Covid-19 vaccine. In September, 2022, China approved the vaccine for emergency use. The vaccine is called Convidecia Air. 

He further wrote that inhaled vaccines have the potential to induce a broader ‘mucosal immunity’, which could better defend against breakthrough infection. Citing a study published in the journal Emerging Microbes & Infections, Feigl-Ding said that aerosolized vaccines were shown to perform better against newer variants of SARS-CoV-2 compared to intramuscular vaccines. 

He wrote that China’s aerosolized nebuliser-inhaled mucosal vaccine is about 14.5 times stronger in eliciting antibodies, compared to CoronaVac. 

Feigl-Ding shared the screenshot of a Bloomberg report, which said there may be about 2.1 million deaths in China due to the recent surge in Covid-19 cases. 

Beijing opera singer Chu Lanlan reportedly died due to complications from Covid-19, Feigl-Ding wrote on Twitter.

He said that she succumbed to Covid-19 at only 40 years of age, asking if the world is now going to take the Covid-19 surge in China seriously.

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