China’s COVID cases could more than double next month to 3.7 million a day, UK Airfinity estimates

While many have focused on the apparent explosion of COVID cases in China and the lack of reliable data from China’s government, there are signs suggesting that the situation in the US is also worsening, even as case counts and deaths drop.

At first glance, initial fears of another US COVID outbreak over the holidays may be overblown. About a week into the start of the holiday gatherings, the seven-day average of new COVID cases dropped to a more than three-week low of 58,354 on Thursday, down 9% from two weeks ago. ago and down 17% from a recent peak. of 70,508 on Christmas Eve, according to a New York Times tracker.

And the daily average of deaths dropped to 355, a three-week low, and is down 5% in two weeks.

READ ALSO : Chinese hospitals provide online services as COVID-19 infections rise

But, as the NYT tracker has warned, the case and death counts could be “artificially low” this week, as the authorities tracking those numbers take a break over the Christmas and New Year holidays. Therefore, hospitalization data, which are normally not affected by holidays, should remain more reliable.

And by that measure, the numbers are getting worrying.

The daily average of hospitalizations rose to 41,620 on Thursday, up 3% from two weeks ago but also the highest number since mid-August.

There are 29 states that saw hospitalizations increase from two weeks ago, including 20 states that saw double-digit percentage increases, led by South Carolina at 54%, West Virginia at 52% and Louisiana at 47%.

The number of severe COVID cases is also seeing a worrying increase, the daily average of COVID-related patients in intensive care units (ICUs) rose to 5,080 on Thursday. This represents a 10% increase from two weeks ago and the most seen since July 30th.

Another sign that the drop in case counts is artificial is that the test positivity rate increased to a four-month high above 14% on Thursday, with 41 states reporting double-digit positivity rates.

“Higher test positivity rates are a sign that many infections go unreported – even if tested at home. This results in a more severe undercount of cases,” said the NYT tracker.

Meanwhile, in China, amid a “lack of adequate and transparent data” from the Chinese government, there is reason to believe that the situation will get much worse before it gets better.

British healthcare company Airfinity estimates that new daily COVID cases in China are currently at around 1.8 million, based on data from China’s regional provinces and new case trajectories from areas that have also lifted COVID policies. -0, like Hong Kong.

That number of cases is expected to more than double, to around 3.7 million a day, by mid-January, Airfinity estimates, before another spike in March brings the number to around 4.2 million a day.

As a result of concerns about rising numbers of cases, Spain has joined the growing number of countries requiring COVID tests for air passengers arriving from China, as reported by the Associated Press. This comes after the European Union said on Thursday it was “assessing” the situation in China.

The US will also require those arriving from China to take a PCR test, starting Jan. 5, while Japan began requiring a test on Friday. Other coooooooooountries that require a test for air passengers from China include Italy, India and South Korea.

In other COVID news, China’s National Medical Products Administration has given emergency approval to Merck & Co.’s MRK. Inc., -0.22% COVID antiviral molnupiravir. This joins Pfizer Inc.’s PFE, -0.81% Paxlovid, which has already been approooooooooved for use in China. Merck shares, which were down 0.5% in Friday’s midday session, are up 43.9% for 2022, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -0.63%, lost 9.3%.

Novavax Inc. NVAX, 4.22%, said on Friday that it has begun a phase 2 study for its COVID-19-Influenza Combination (CIC) vaccine candidate in people aged 50 to 80 years. “We believe that, like influenza, COVID-19 will also be seasonal advances, and that there is room in the market for new alternatives to provide better protection against the impact of influenza, particularly in older adults, and to explore the potential of combining this with COVID protection,” said CEO Stanley Erck. Novavax shares were up 1.0% on Friday but are down 93.1% year-to-date, while the S&P 500 SPX Index, -0.74%, is down 19.9%.

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