2023-01-12

WHO notes that Covid deaths in China are "heavily underreported" and applauds US openness.

By Shaista
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The World Health Organization has expressed repeated concerns that the official figures for China do not accurately reflect the effects of the country's recent spike in Covid cases. WHO requests more info from China Covid and applauds US 'transparency'

The WHO emphasised on Wednesday that China has to disclose more information about its exploding Covid outbreak, while complimenting Washington for its "radical transparency" in tackling a new sub-variant.

The World Health Organization has expressed repeated concerns that the official figures for China do not accurately reflect the effects of the country's recent spike in Covid cases.

Michael Ryan, the organization's head of emergencies, told reporters that "WHO still feels that deaths are significantly underreported from China."

He attributed this to Beijing's strict definition of what constitutes a Covid death and added that "doctors in the public health system need to be encouraged, not dissuaded, to report these incidents."

In contrast, he praised the American government's collaboration, where the new Omicron sub-variant XBB.1.5 is fast spreading.

"The United States has engaged with the WHO over the data and the impact of that data with radical transparency," he claimed.

The majority of the information now accessible on XBB.1.5, the most contagious variant of Covid to date, has been provided by Washington, according to Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO's technical lead on Covid.

According to her, the sub variation, which has been found in 38 countries, definitely has a "growth advantage" over other strains of the virus. It is also thought to be more adept at evading immune defences from earlier infections or vaccinations.

She continued, "We don't yet have data on severity."

The world "cannot shut its eyes."
Despite greater cooperation, Ryan cautioned that "we still do not have adequate information to perform a full comprehensive risk assessment" in China.

After three years of imposing among of the strictest anti-pandemic regulations in the world, China abruptly abandoned its "zero-Covid" strategy last month. That caused an outbreak of illnesses that overflowed crematoriums and packed hospitals.

However, out of a population of 1.4 billion, just 37 Covid-related deaths have been reported in China since last month, according to official statistics.

The FDA has expressed sympathy with nations that have chosen to require Covid tests of visitors from China in light of these differences.

"Countries have decided to take a conservative approach in the absence of data, and (WHO) has indicated that is understandable in the circumstances," Ryan said.

However, it doesn't seem like Chinese leaders are eager to change their approach.

According to epidemiologist Liang Wannian, the head of a government-appointed expert team, "I don't think it is necessary to investigate into the cause of death for every case at this time."

"Treatment should be the top priority during the pandemic."

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