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Over 1.14 billion infected with Covid between Dec and Feb: China CDC

By, Beijing
Apr 29, 2023 12:39 PM IST

The latest CDC report said vaccine booster shots are effective in preventing infection and preventing symptoms of the disease within six months.

More than 82% or over 1.14 billion of China’s 1.4 billion people were infected with Covid-19 between the months of December and February, the country’s top disease control authority has said in its latest report amid concerns over an increase in virus infectivity this month.

Travellers walk with their luggage at Beijing Capital International Airport, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Beijing. (REUTERS)

The Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which published the data in its weekly report this week, said Covid-19 cases surged during December 2022 through to January 2023, the period during which China dismantled its “zero-Covid” apparatus comprising mass tests, contact tracing and lockdowns.

The latest CDC report said vaccine booster shots are effective in preventing infection and preventing symptoms of the disease within six months.

“Infections sharply increased during December and January, but given many infected people might not have received nucleic acid or antigen tests, the centre’s data could not accurately reflect how serious the outbreak was,” state-run China Daily newspaper said in a report on the CDC data.

The CDC then decided to “estimate the severity of the disease via anonymous online survey”, requesting information such as gender, age, address, occupation, symptoms and whether they had been vaccinated, with surveys conducted four times between December and February.

“The results showed self-reported infection rates peaked between Dec 19 and 21, with 82.4% of the country’s population infected by the virus as of February 7.”

The CDC had earlier said the number of Covid-19 infections in China peaked at 6.94 million per day on December 22 last year and then began to fall gradually.

“The research team admitted that the research methodology had certain limitations as the survey is limited to only WeChat users, and only covered a sample of 2,316 participants who were infected within certain dates,” the state-run tabloid, Global Times, said.

While China’s chief epidemiologist Wu Zunyou, had said in January that the then ongoing Covid-19 wave had infected about 80% of the people in the country, it is the first time that a CDC report has confirmed the data.

There was no mention of the death toll in the CDC report.

Officially, China recorded only over 80,000 Covid-19 deaths.

China’s leadership declared a “decisive victory” over COVID-19 in mid-February, claiming the world’s lowest fatality rate despite lingering questions on the death toll data given the way the Coronavirus swept through the country within days in December.

Concerns over data reliability had deepened after China’s national health commission (NHC) had stopped publishing daily Covid-19 data in late December amid the country’s biggest Covid wave.

Lately, there’s been sporadic concerns over a rise in Covid-19 cases in China with the incidence of re-infection trending on Chinese social media earlier this month.

The CDC reported 2,661 positive Covid-19 cases nationwide on April 20.

According to the Global Times, quoting CDC, the centra has detected 12 new variants in this country.

“The centre had found 42 cases of XBB.1.16 - referred to as ‘arcturus’— which has been the dominant variant in India since March. The China CDC assured the public, saying that there are a very small number of XBB.1.16 carriers, which have yet to form a transmission trend,” the report said.

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