A medical worker takes a swab sample from a resident for nucleic acid test in Shijingshan District, Beijing, capital of China, May 7, 2022. (Xinhua/Zhang Chenlin)
LONDON, May 11 (Xinhua) -- China could face 1.55 million COVID-19 deaths if it abandons the current dynamic zero-COVID policy, according to a new study published in Nature Medicine on Tuesday.
In the study, scientists from China and the United States modeled different strategies China might use to move away from its dynamic zero-COVID approach and learn to live with the virus, and found that China's current level of immunity would be insufficient to prevent an Omicron wave.
If China drops its current anti-COVID strategy, the researchers predicted, peak demand on intensive care unit would be 15.6 times the existing capacity, causing more than 1.5 million deaths.
The study also pointed out that protecting vulnerable individuals by ensuring accessibility to vaccines and antiviral therapies, and maintaining implementation of non-pharmaceutical interventions could be sufficient to prevent overwhelming the healthcare system, "suggesting that these factors should be points of emphasis in future mitigation policies."
China has been implementing a strict dynamic zero-COVID approach in its fight against the virus, which has proved effective over the past more than two years since the onset of the pandemic.
Experts have argued that China's dynamic zero-COVID approach currently is the best choice for the world's most populous country.
"If we are not firm about the dynamic zero-COVID policy, China may miss the best time to stem the resurgence of cases, which may lead to higher costs and unbearable consequences," China's leading epidemiologist Liang Wannian recently said. ■