For its models, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation assumes that the balance sheet given in China is underestimated, with only 5,237 people officially dead from the virus since the end of 2019. The Washington researchers, on the other hand, count more 29,000. To predict such a level of mortality next year, they relied on a recent outbreak of the Omicron variant in Hong Kong. Moreover, the institute does not only focus on China and projects worldwide 18.5 million deaths by April 1, 2023 including unreported deaths.
Other scenarios are even more pessimistic. Epidemiologist Eric Feigl-Ding thus relays a study by Airfinitya healthcare data analytics company, which anticipates up to 2.1 million deaths caused by covid in case of abandonment of zero covid. So, are such projections reliable? One thing is certain, the Chinese population is not sufficiently immune to the virus, which is doubling in intensity. A lack of protection because of zero covid itself, which caused too many infections and low vaccination coverage. About 40% of Chinese over the age of 80 received a booster dose, against 57% of the population, thresholds too low to build herd immunity.