COVID: Too early to declare end of pandemic amid fears of devastating wave in China, experts warn | World News
Scientists have warned it could be too early to declare the end of the COVID-19 pandemic amid fears of a potentially devastating new wave in China.
It comes after China started to dismantle its zero-COVID policy this month following a spike in infections and unprecedented public protests.
Projections have suggested the world’s second-largest economy could now face an explosion of cases and more than a million deaths next year after the abrupt change in course.
China’s zero-COVID approach had kept infections and deaths comparatively low among the population of 1.4 billion.
But the World Health Organisation (WHO) had said the approach was not “sustainable” due to rising concerns over its impact on people’s lives and the nation’s economy.
President Xi Jinping’s move last week has changed the global picture, experts said.
Dutch virologist Marion Koopmans, who sits on a WHO committee tasked with advising on the status of the COVID emergency, said: “The question is whether you can call it post-pandemic when such a significant part of the world is actually just entering its second wave.
“It’s clear that we are in a very different phase [of the pandemic], but in my mind, that pending wave in China is a wild card.”
Rate at which virus is surging in China will be shrouded in secrecy
As recently as September, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus had said “the end is in sight” for the pandemic.
Last week, he told reporters in Geneva that he was “hopeful” of an end to the emergency at some point next year.
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