Sorry Qatar but this is huge. Articles appeared in the extremely reliable The Economist. I am a paid subscriber to that on line publication. The news is rather frightening. I have no idea what the repercussions are for the rest of the world. It is to be remembered that it was China that started it all. Yes, indeed it was. No doubt about it – no matter what the ignorant conspiracy theory people say. What caused covid in the first place? Allah (SWT) of course, as the Most Merciful God is the Creator. Covid, in some situations, is Merciful. It strikes in the majority of countries throughout the world, old people. Old people housed in hopeless ‘care facilities’ – now that is definitely a misnomer.
A misnomer is a a wrong or inaccurate name or designation. That definition used in a sentence: Morning sickness is a misnomer for many women, since the nausea can occur any time during the day. It can also be a wrong or inaccurate use of a name or term. It is sometimes interesting to look at the origins of a word: late Middle English: from Anglo-Norman French, from the Old French verb mesnommer, from mes- ‘wrongly’ + nommer ‘to name’ (based on Latin nomen ‘name’). I am eternally grateful that English is my first (and only) language. I could never master this language if I did not learn it from birth. And I am NOT going to confuse my brain by introducing another language. So-called pious Muslims (sometimes parading as scholars) preach that learning Arabic is a sheer necessity for those of the Islamic faith. They: You must learn Arabic. That is the language you must use to speak to Allah and you can only understand the Quran if you know the nuances of the language.
Me: But Allah is All Knowing. Allah therefore knows English and does answer my English language prayers, that is readily apparent.(to me anyway and who else hears my prayers, except Allah?) And have you ever heard of English translations of the Quran? You compare and contrast between them and get a much finer distinction from that than my embryonic understanding of Arabic could ever bring.
I win! I was a lawyer. I love winning! The ‘scholars’ want people to be dependent upon them for knowledge of the faith. Many, if not most of them, make money, an absolute fortune, by appearing at functions with large enrollment fees. Allah is not happy with them, I am sure. I would not like to be them on Judgment Day. They shall be most surprised – they are so arrogant.
Oops I have digressed yet again. Here is the main thrust of this blog. The article from The Economist is entitled What Online Research Data Say About Chinas Latest Covid Wave. It begins:
“No one outside China knows how many people in the country have contracted covid-19 or died from it in recent weeks. The Chinese government, which recently abandoned the “zero-covid” strategy of strict lockdowns and isolation requirements that it had maintained since the start of the pandemic, is probably modelling the outbreak, but not sharing its estimates. Since December 1st it has reported an official death toll from the disease of just nine people. On December 25th the National Health Commission announced that it would stop publishing daily case counts (though the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention will continue to publish some information about the outbreak). Morgues and crematoriums are reportedly struggling to keep up with a surge in corpses. Some reports have put the number of infections this month in the hundreds of millions (out of a population of 1.4bn).”
The article goes on to explain how and why on line data research works.
Given such uncertainty, external observers seeking to estimate the magnitude of the current outbreak in China must rely on rough proxy measures. One such source of data is internet search engines, which people can use to look up disease symptoms and treatments. Although people frequently search for information about stories occurring outside their countries’ borders, specific terms indicating that someone may be directly affected can prove surprisingly informative about local conditions.”
For those of who are ill equipped to understand what this all means, the knowledgable authors provide an example. “For example, in America, an outstanding predictor of case counts early in the pandemic was Google searches for the loss of taste or smell. Once covid tests became widely available in America, day-to-day changes in the number of such searches moved nearly in lockstep with changes in the reported case count eight or nine days later. The steepest spike of all in search interest for anosmia occurred in March 2020, a period when the disease first struck America but tests were few and far between.”
Science in this article abounds.” It seems unlikely that cases have peaked in China. Even if they have, it might represent merely a temporary respite: most other countries have suffered through numerous waves of covid, with falsely reassuring lulls in between. Moreover, any decline in infections might be attributable not to successful control of the outbreak, but rather to “depletion of susceptibles”—in other words, the current strain of the virus running out of new people to infect, because it has already spread to so many.”
So there is a decline, not because anything in particular is working, but because there are fewer “susceptible”. Everybody that was going to get it has gotten it already.
Now that might be true, except for this frightening fact reported in a prior blog. One can get be sick from the virus again and again and again. The immunity offered is very short-lived.
The conclusion has such impact! “Well into December, Baidu searches for “funeral services” remained within their pre-outbreak range. However, it generally takes two or three weeks following the onset of symptoms for covid to claim its victims. And during the past week, searches for this term have quadrupled, reaching a high 64% greater than the previous maximum. At this rate of increase, the final week of 2022 could prove to be China’s deadliest yet.”
The here to the entire article: here
Another article in the same edition takes a slightly different approach, It begins:
“After nearly three years of self-imposed isolation, China is opening up again. The domestic travel restrictions, mass-testing requirements and draconian lockdowns of the “zero-covid” policy were scrapped in early December. On January 8th China will reopen its borders, too. People arriving from abroad will no longer have to quarantine. More flights into China will be allowed. Visas will be granted to business travellers and students (though not yet to tourists). And Chinese nationals will be allowed to travel abroad without needing to provide the authorities with a reason.”
But the author strikes a deadly blow in the next paragraph. “But for a sense of how much the covid situation in China has changed look at Japan and India. They are now demanding that incoming Chinese travellers take a covid test first. In the span of a couple of months, China has gone from being a country with an incredibly small number of infections to, perhaps, the world’s largest covid hotspot.”
In other words, China is opening its borders to others but smart countries are closing their borders to Chinese (who flunk the covid test).
As an aside, one of my new Saudi friends, a brilliant physician said, in an email to me, quoted on the blog actually that I can take complex concepts and reduce them to simple terms. Thank you SHOYAS (her nickname); I did it again. I do so LOVE Saudi Arabia, you shall hear more about that later. This early morning a video chat was received from Future Husband, the Chef and others. It was SO much fun. We laughed happily, knowing that I shall return.
But back to the grim news about Covid and China. Read about how vast the spread of the virus is: “It is hard to gauge how many Chinese people have been infected so far. The central government is probably modelling the outbreak, but the data it releases to the public are useless. It had been reporting only a few thousand new cases a day, nowhere near the real number. Some regional governments have provided more plausible estimates. Officials in Zhejiang, a wealthy eastern province with a population of about 65m, said on December 25th that they were seeing 1m new infections a day. They expect that number to double by around the new year.” My goodness 2 million folks in one day. Remember the one child policy in China years ago – I guess unnecessary with these numbers. But actually rather necessary as the virus kills old people, they are the most susceptible. The one child policy has left millions of old people with no young people to care for them. Allah is said to be a All Knowing and a Perfect Planner. Could this be another example?
This adds to the picture. “Most of China’s population has never been exposed to covid and many old people are undervaccinated. So while the Omicron variant of the virus will cause relatively mild symptoms in most people, a large number of Chinese are still vulnerable to severe illness. The country’s weak health-care system is already under huge pressure. At a hospital in Beijing your correspondent saw elderly patients breathing from oxygen tanks on gurneys that spilled out into packed corridors and waiting rooms. Videos circulating online show similar scenes across China. There have been reports of patients being turned away from hospitals in smaller cities owing to a lack of beds. Officials say there are around 10 intensive-care unit (icu) beds per 100,000 people in the country, well below what is needed. Medical staff are in short supply, too. A health official has warned that some regions are approaching the “critical point” in icu-bed supply.”
Under vaccinated old people, no beds in hospitals and a deadly dearth of icu beds. That spells death to the old people in China.
The situation is dire. “China’s crematoriums are busy. Police have been stationed outside one in Beijing that has attracted reporters. Earlier this month Airfinity, a London-based data firm, estimated that over 5,000 people were probably dying of covid in China every day. Our model predicts that in a worst-case scenario 1.5m Chinese people will die from the virus in the coming months.”
PREMIER SMITH READ THIS!
“In China, as elsewhere, vaccination is the best tool for reducing mortality. Three shots of a Chinese vaccine provide reasonable protection against severe illness and death. But, as of late November, only 40% of those aged over 80 had received three shots. Some were jabbed so long ago that the effectiveness of the vaccine will be wearing off. As cases surged in early December, China stepped up its efforts. The average number of doses administered went up from under 1m per day to over 3m on December 21st. But since then the campaign appears to have slowed again. More effective foreign vaccines are still banned.”
The bad new is that Premier Smith has been vaccinated, so that she can ‘travel’. But the good news is that it was an inferior brand of vaccine and the effectiveness is probably about worn off.
China’s Supreme Leader said this about that. On December 26th he said the country’s “epidemic prevention and control faces new circumstances and new tasks”. That is something of an understatement.” Faithful readers will know that the Supreme Leader visited ‘my city’ Riyadh a couple of weeks ago. Before the onset of the recent outbreak. Would it not be hilariously funny if all the security was in place, streets shut down resulting in chaos actually. The Supreme Leader has to have a covid test because of the outbreak. He fails and has to go back home. It is a situation where timing is everything.
This shall end on a pessimistic note. “As the number of infections shot up in early December, the streets of Beijing and other large cities emptied. Now they are slowly filling up again. But the epidemic is far from over. In the coming weeks millions of people will travel back to their home towns for the lunar new year. They will spread the virus into rural areas with threadbare health systems. There are likely to be multiple waves of the virus. As bad as things are today in China, the real test is yet to come.”
The link to this article: https://www.economist.com/china/2022/12/28/covid-19-is-tearing-through-china
Gentle readers I do wish to cheer. There I have attached several funny cartoons from The New Yorker.