New Delhi: China has been struggling with the meteoric rise in coronavirus cases since the country relaxed its controversial zero-Covid policy last month. The official Covid figures from China have become unreliable guides as less testing is being done across the country.
Jonathan Latham, British virologist and biologist as well as Executive Director of the Bioscience Resource Project said that Beijing is clearly not being open and transparent about Covid data. He believes that only accurate data can lead to good decisions in China and elsewhere.
“China is not being open and transparent about case numbers or deaths. This is true for many countries though. It would be great to have truly accurate information on those points, however, since only timely and accurate data can lead to good decisions in china and elsewhere. Good data would also test the theory that newer variants such as omicron have a lower inherent death rate,” the virologist said
“The pandemic response of authorities has generally been very poorly thought out and executed. It is doubtful that warnings from China would have made a difference, either today or back in 2019/2020. Even western warnings in late 2019 were ignored,” he added.
Jonathan has been studying the origins of Covid-19 and the early events in china before and after the pandemic outbreak. Speaking about controversial China’s zero-covid policy, he further said it seems China has lost control over the infection due to reduced vigilance.
“From afar it is difficult to be truly certain but it seems that china has lost the control over covid that it had for so long. Probably this is because the newer variants that have arrived are more infectious than those with which it dealt successfully in the past. Reduced vigilance in china likely also played a role too,” he said.
Meanwhile, the WHO covid experts met Chinese officials on Friday and “again stressed the importance of transparency and regular sharing of data to formulate accurate risk assessments and to inform effective response,” said the WHO chief, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
It has asked Chinese health officials to reveal more genetic sequencing data and data on hospitalisations, deaths and vaccinations.
The agency has also invited Chinese scientists to present detailed data on viral sequencing at its meeting of a technical advisory group scheduled for January 3.
Some countries, including India, Japan, South Korea, the United States, France, Italy, and Taiwan, have all imposed Covid tests for travellers from China in response to rising coronavirus cases.
“A high-level meeting took place on December 30 between WHO and China about the current surge in COVID-19 cases, to seek further information on the situation, and to offer WHO’s expertise and further support,” the WHO release said.
The UN agency reiterated the importance of vaccination and boosters to protect against severe disease and death for people at higher risk. A surge in Covid infections across China and doubts about its official data have prompted the return of health checks. China is set to significantly loosen its travel restrictions on inbound and outbound travel from January 8.