Scientists warn it may be too early to declare the end of the COVID-19 pandemic amid fears of a potentially devastating new wave in China.
It appeared after China started lift its no-COVID policy this month after a spike in infections and unprecedented public protests.
Projections suggest that the world’s second-largest economy could now face an explosion of infections and more than a million deaths next year after a sudden change of course.
Chinese zero-COVID The approach has kept infections and deaths relatively low in a population of 1.4 billion.
But the World Health Organization (WHO) has said the approach is not “sustainable” due to growing concerns about its impact on people’s lives and the nation’s economy.
Experts say that President Xi Jinping’s move last week has changed the global picture.
Dutch virologist Marion Koopmans, a member of the WHO committee tasked with advising on the COVID-19 emergency, said: “The question is whether you can call it post-pandemic or not. not when such an important part of the world is actually entering a second phase. wave.
“Obviously we’re at a very different stage [of the pandemic]but in my mind that pending wave in China is a wild card.”
As recently as September, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that “the end is in sight” to the pandemic.
Last week, he told reporters in Geneva that he “hopes” to end the state of emergency at some point next year.