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  • China COVID cases: what you need to know

    Author: AAP

China has started taking steps to ease its zero-COVID-19 policy, fuelling a mix of relief and worry as the public waits to see the health consequences and impact on the medical system of a full-blown exit.

Researchers have analysed how many deaths the country could see if it pivots to a full reopening, with most pointing to China's relatively low vaccination rates and lack of herd immunity as some of its most vulnerable spots.

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As of Friday, China reported 5233 COVID-19-related deaths and 331,952 cases with symptoms.

Here are some of the estimates:

MORE THAN TWO MILLION DEATHS

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* Zhou Jiatong, head of the Center for Disease Control in southwestern Guangxi region, said last month in a paper published by the Shanghai Journal of Preventive Medicine that mainland China faces more than two million deaths if it loosens COVID-19 curbs in the same way Hong Kong did this year.

* Infections could rise to more than 233 million, his forecast showed.

1.55 MILLION

* In May, scientists in China and the United States estimated that China risks more than 1.5 million COVID-19 deaths if it drops its tough zero-COVID policy without any safeguards such as ramping up vaccination and access to treatments, according to research published in Nature Medicine.

* They forecast peak demand for intensive care would be more than 15 times capacity, causing some 1.5 million deaths based on worldwide data gathered about the variant's severity.

* However, the researchers, the lead authors among whom were from Fudan University in China, said the death toll could be reduced sharply if there was a focus on vaccination.

UP TO 2.1 MILLION

* China could see 1.3 million to 2.1 million people die if it lifts its zero-COVID-19 policy due to low vaccination and booster rates as well as a lack of hybrid immunity, British scientific information and analytics company Airfinity said on Monday.

* The company said it modelled its data on Hong Kong's BA.1 wave in February, which occurred after the city eased restrictions after two years.

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