Many top scientists and advisers to the World Health Organization (WHO) predict that it might be too soon to announce the worldwide end of the COVID-19 pandemic as a potentially shattering wave of COVID-19 is yet to hit China. China has been witnessing a sharp surge in COVID-19 infections and unprecedented people’s protests. As per the latest estimates, the world’s second-largest economy might witness more than a million mortality due to the disease next year after the sudden surge in the count of COVID-19 infections. Amid surging cases of COVID-19, China started dismantling its zero COVID policy last week. Health experts across the world have claimed that the country’s zero COVID policy has been keeping COVID-19 infections and the rate of mortality relatively low among the population of 1.4 billion people, but moderation in COVID-19 restrictions and rules might change the course of the pandemic across the world. A Dutch virologist Marion Koopmans who is a member of a WHO committee that is tasked with guiding on the status of the COVID emergency has said that it is a big question if we can call it post-pandemic times when a major part of the world is just going into the second wave of the pandemic. Dr. Koopmans has said that it is evident that the rest of the world is in a different phase of the pandemic while China has just started to deal with the pending wave of COVID19 as a wild card.
In September 2022, the Chief of the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said that the end of the pandemic is near and he was confident of an end to the global emergency sometime in 2023. Many countries across the world have lifted COVID-19 restrictions as the fear of deadly new variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and a resurgence of infections have reduced in the second part of this year. Tedros’s earlier remarks have spurred hopes that the global health agency might soon eliminate the highest alert level label for COVID-19, which was put in place in January 2020. Koopmans and members from the WHO advisory committee are supposed to issue their recommendation on the alert level for COVID-19 next year in January. However, the WHO chief is the one who makes the final decision and he is not obliged to follow the advisory committee’s suggestion. Many cities in China have been struggling to install hospital beds and construct fever screening clinics, as authorities have recorded five more deaths related to COVID-19. As COVID cases see a sharp rise, health authorities in China have been rushing to make more intensive care beds available for people. Healthcare professionals have stocking up on essential medicines to tackle the situation. However, China’s surprise decision to dismantle its zero COVID policy amid the sudden surge in COVID-19 infections has left many international health agencies and experts concerned.
Many global health experts have warned that allowing the pathogen to spread locally will give the virus a chance to mutate further which can potentially result in the creation of a deadly new variant. The data from China that has been shared with the WHO and the virus database GISAID reveals that globally prevailing Omicron and its twigs are circulating in China at present. However, the picture is still unclear due to a lack of complete data. A virologist from Imperial College London, Tom Peacock has said that it is unclear whether the COVID-19 wave circulating in China is variant-driven or it signifies a failure of containment efforts by Chinese health authorities. The United States has made its stand clear stating the US authorities will help China curb its surging COVID-19 outbreak as an uncontrolled spread of infections will affect the global economy as well. The US federal health authorities have said that the US has been providing COVID-related health support to many other nations across the world including China. The United States has been the biggest donor of COVID-19 vaccines across the globe.