COVID outbreak likely in China post policy: US impact, explained – USA TODAY

by | Dec 16, 2022 | COVID-19

China is likely to see an explosion of COVID-19 cases in coming weeks, experts say, as the country lifts its long-standing and highly unpopular zero-COVID-19 policy.China is extremely vulnerable right now because its population – especially older adults, who are the most likely to suffer severe disease – is undervaccinated, has no natural immunity from infection and a limited supply of treatments.Experts predict hundreds of millions of infections and as many as 1.5 million to 2 million deaths.”I think China is going to blow in the next six to 12 weeks,” said Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, in a Thursday webinar. “Instead of falling off a 5-foot cliff, we’re going to watch them fall off a 1,000-foot cliff.”A raging epidemic in China could be bad news for controlling the virus in the U.S., he and other experts said, because travelers will arrive sick and the chances of mutation increase anytime a virus infects a lot of people.LATEST NEWS:China announces sweeping relaxation of ‘zero COVID’ measuresChina lifts zero-COVID policy. How will the US be impacted?Any time a virus rages out of control, especially in a population as large as China’s, there is a good chance that new variants will develop, said Dr. Jeremy Luban, an expert in viruses at the UMass Chan Medical School.The variants now circulating in China seem to be the ones that have been most prevalent here, including the omicron subvariants BA.5 and BQ.1. “There’s no specific reason to be concerned other than that a lot of infections are bad for evolution of new things that we can’t predict,” Luban said Wednesday on a Massachusetts Consortium on Pathogen Readiness media call. “The more the rate of infection can be controlled in China, …

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