Local transmission in Beijing, the avalanche continues

The pandemic has now come to Beijing with its 21 million people.

From CNN: https://www.cnn.com/2022/04/24/china/beijing-covid-outbreak-lockdown-fears-intl-hnk/index.html”More than 20 cases were detected in the capital over a period from midnight Friday morning (22 April ’22) to 4 p.m. Saturday afternoon, officials said. One middle school where multiple cases were detected was shuttered on Friday, with students and teachers in the district required to take several Covid-19 tests over the coming week. more than 20 cases were detected in the capital over a period from midnight Friday morning to 4 p.m. Saturday afternoon, officials said. One middle school where multiple cases were detected was shuttered on Friday, with students and teachers in the district required to take several Covid-19 tests over the coming week.”

Other sources think the pandemic has been silently spreading in the city for a week.  If present policies continue and the if rapid spread shown in Hong Kong and Shanghai happens in Beijing, we are likely to see lockdown of the political capital.  Unfortunately I was worried about something like this last December, and by 15 March I thought China would be brought to its knees.  All this can be found in the series of posts recopied verbatim after the ***

As of 21 April Mainland China had 2,971 symptomatic cases and 21,335 asymptomatic, most of which were in Shanghai.  As of 23 April it was in 17 of 31 Chinese provinces.

Very sad.  At some point, attempting to control the pandemic by lockdown will cause more harm than good.   Events are proving the zero-Covid policy isn’t working.  Unfortunately, I don’t have any brilliant suggestions for them.

Basically this is happening because the zero-Covid policy produced a set of immunologic virgins to the Pandemic virus.

***

There’s a lot here.  If you are new to the Chinese pandemic

First scroll down to (and read) the following post written 12 December ’21

Is China following a Smokey the Bear policy on the pandemic?

Then look at (and read) the following — written 15 Jan ’22

I hope to Hell I was wrong about China

Then look at (and read) — written 25 March

China will be near collapse due to COVID19 — here’s why

Lastly look at the one just below — written 10 April

It’s a long sad story

China is closer to near collapse

26 days ago on 15 March ’22  I wrote a post beginning “Here is why I think China will be near collapse due to COVID19 in the next few months.”  At that time there were essentially no symptomatic cases in Shanghai and 1,000 locally transmitted cases.  At the end of 9 April there were 1,006 symptomatic cases and 23,937 asymptomatic ones, essentially all locally transmitted.  The city of 27 million people is now locked down.  The epidemic in Hong Kong has calmed down and the number of new locally transmitted is down to 2,000.

However the new organism (BA.2) is very infectious, and the fact that it is in all 31 Chinese provinces does not bode well.  Mainland China (excludes Hong Kong) has 1,318 symptomatic and 25,111 asymptomatic cases, essentially all locally transmitted.

We have to be impressed by the fact that 25,000,000 PCR tests for the virus were performed in Shanghai the past week, with roughly one in every thousand people carrying the virus.  It’s great to have data showing just how asymptomatic most cases are (96%).  We owe Shanghai and its people a great debt for this.

Xi reminds me of King Canute.  I think BA.2 will pop up again and again until it runs through the population.  Clearly full  vaccination with boosters  is not protective against infection here in the USA (witness Pelosi, Vilsack, Garland and Collins) although in the past  COVID19 was stated to be a disease of the unvaccinated.   The ‘fully vaccinated’ rate this year in Massachusetts for those in the hospital with COVID has ranged from 37 %  to 64% (currently 54%).  I think the USA is doing better, because given that 96% of cases (in Shanghai) are asymptomatic, almost everyone in the states has been infected with one or another strain of the pandemic virus, so there is some degree of immunity in the population.  Not so for China.  They are immunologic virgins for the pandemic virus (SARS-CoV-2)

Due to stringent criteria for who can bring in supplies to Shanghai there are problems with supplying food for the population.

Here is the post of 15 March — it’s long but has a lot more evidence to back up what I’m saying here

China will be near collapse due to COVID19 — here’s why

Here is why I think China will be near collapse due to COVID19 in the next few months.

Due to a strict containment policy, the only experience the Chinese population (excepting Wuhan) has had with the pandemic virus has been by vaccination, mostly with Sinopharm and Coronavac.  These are known to be less effective against the Omicron variant than the western mRNA vaccines (Pfizer, etc.) which themselves are not terribly effective against infection.  So most Chinese are immunologic virgins for exposure to the variants of the pandemic virus and the omicron variant of the virus is incredibly infectious.

In contrast, western populations have been exposed to variant after variant of the pandemic virus, building up immunity to coronaviruses.  The vast majority of cases are mild not requiring hospitalization, and many are completely asymptomatic.

One small piece of evidence for this — there are many more —

The following is from a post July/2020.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/09/nyregion/nyc-coronavirus-antibodies.html–https://www.cnbc.com/2020/04/23/new-york-antibody-study-estimates-13point9percent-of-residents-have-had-the-coronavirus-cuomo-says.html.

New York State  randomly tested 3,000 people at grocery stores and shopping locations across 19 counties in 40 localities to see if they had the antibodies to fight the coronavirus, indicating they have had the virus and recovered from it. With more than 19.4 million people residents, according to U.S. Census data, the preliminary results imply that at least 2.7 million New Yorkers have been infected with Covid-19.They weren’t all hospitalized.

If you’re into authoritative statements, here is Dr. Fauci 3 months ago –Source — https://nypost.com/2021/12/12/omicron-appears-to-evade-some-protection-from-covid-vaccines/

“We’re getting anecdotal information … not necessarily confirmed yet, that the level of severity appears to be maybe a bit less than in the Delta. But there are a lot of confounding issues that it may be due to the underlying protection in the community due to prior infections,”

Omicron spreads like wildfire.  For example, we had to call our plumber a week ago.  He has trained his teenage daughter to enter the trade.  We talked about the pandemic.  Teenagers love crowded parties (well I did, and so did our kids). His daughter  told us that apparently one irresponsible kid came to a party while sick in the early stages of what turned out to COVID19 and transmitted the virus to NINETEEN people.

Here is the Hong Kong experience.  It began with an aircrew member from Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd., who was subsequently found to be infected with omicron.  He ate lunch at a restaurant 27 December ’21 with his family. . Five other customers later tested positive.   By the first week in March there were over 50,000 new cases each day.  Fortunately Hong Kong appears to have passed the peak with ‘only’ 20 – 30 thousand new cases each day.

The South China Morning Post of 16 March notes that 90% of Hong Kong residents have received one dose of a vaccine.  This hardly speaks well for the efficacy of whatever they received.

The Hong Kong experience has been rationalized by several reasons perhaps peculiar to Hong Kong:

l. A very low vaccination rate among the most vulnerable (e.g. over 80)

2. Very high population density — 50% of the population in Hong Kong live in public housing which is mostly very tall, very skinny high rises, due to the lack of buildable land in Hong Kong.  The elevators are a perfect way to transmit the virus.

I can’t speak to how common this is elsewhere in China.

5 days ago the number of cases in China was 1,000.  Today (16 March) I read that there were 5,100 on 15 March — https://www.scmp.com/news/china/science/article/3170631/china-reports-another-3000-covid-19-cases-latest-surge-continues?module=lead_hero_story&pgtype=homepage

So the elevator pitch is — a highly infectious virus is loose in a huge, previously uninfected population with minimal vaccine protection.

I was very worried that something like this could happen all over China in posts  written 2 and 3months ago, long before the number of cases in Hong Kong took off.  You can find my reasoning in the following post — https://luysii.wordpress.com/2022/01/15/i-hope-to-hell-i-was-wrong-about-china/   It was published 15 January ’22, and can be found below and it contains the 12 December ’21 post:

Addendum 16 Marchhttps://www.shine.cn/news/nation/2203163160/–MainlandChina now has 1,860 locally transmitted cases — with most in the province next to North, but in 20 other locations all over China including Shanghai and Beijing. This is is not good news given how infectious Omicron is.

 

I hope to Hell I was wrong about China

From the South China Morning Post — 9:52pm, 15 Jan, 2022

“The Chinese capital reported its first community case of the Omicron coronavirus variant on Saturday, with local and imported infections of the strain now detected in about half of the country’s provinces and municipalities.”

https://www.scmp.com/news/china/politics/article/3163525/china-braces-omicron-variant-extends-its-reach-and-lunar-new-

If true, containment, quarantine, lockdowns and isolation are hopeless.  The quote implies that they’ve already failed.

I find this very worrisome for reasons listed in a post 12 December 2021, a copy of which is below.

The short answer is that the mainland Chinese are immunologic virgins to exposure to the variants of the pandemic virus.  Hopefully their vaccines will work better against omicron than those of the west, but there is no reason to think they will.

Is China following a Smokey the Bear policy on the pandemic?

China is following a prevent pandemic virus infection policy, just as Smokey the Bear followed a prevent forrest fires policy.  The latter didn’t work out well, as although fires were prevented for a while. However, when fires did occur, they were much much worse than the smaller ones Smokey prevented.  There was much more tinder and stuff to burn.

Actually Smokey has changed his tune slightly.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smokey_Bear  SmokeyBear.com’s current site has a section on “Benefits of Fire” that includes this information: “Fire managers can reintroduce fire into fire-dependent ecosystems with prescribed fire. Under specific, controlled conditions, the beneficial effects of natural fire can be recreated, fuel buildup can be reduced, and we can prevent the catastrophic losses of uncontrolled, unwanted wildfire.”

Revision 14 December 2021 — China’s policy of prevention has resulted in a Chinese population which has been vaccinated using two killed virus vaccines (Sinopharm, Coronavac).  They have not had any natural infections with the virus (aside from the original cases) as far as we know given what China has allowed out.

Infection with the virus itself exposes you to all its proteins, with your immune system responding to all of them.   Western vaccines are just to the spike protein.

It tends to be forgotten that moist cases of pandemic viral infection are asymptomatic.

Given 800K deaths  from COVID19  in the USA, how can I possibly say this is good. Here’s how :>

If you had an infection with the virus, you develop antibodies.  Nowadays, everyone who is vaccinated has antibodies so there is no point in testing for them, but what were things like in the days before vaccines?

The following is from a post July/2020.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/09/nyregion/nyc-coronavirus-antibodies.html–https://www.cnbc.com/2020/04/23/new-york-antibody-study-estimates-13point9percent-of-residents-have-had-the-coronavirus-cuomo-says.html.

New York State  randomly tested 3,000 people at grocery stores and shopping locations across 19 counties in 40 localities to see if they had the antibodies to fight the coronavirus, indicating they have had the virus and recovered from it. With more than 19.4 million people residents, according to U.S. Census data, the preliminary results imply that at least 2.7 million New Yorkers have been infected with Covid-19.They weren’t all hospitalized.

Here’s some work the same month from Queens — https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/09/nyregion/nyc-coronavirus-antibodies.html

At a clinic in Corona, a working-class neighborhood in Queens, more than 68 percent of people tested positive for antibodies to the new coronavirus. At another clinic in Jackson Heights, Queens, that number was 56 percent. But at a clinic in Cobble Hill, a mostly white and wealthy neighborhood in Brooklyn, only 13 percent of people tested positive for antibodies.

So the disease has already to spread to half the population in some neighborhoods in Queens. If even 10% of them were sick that would have been 140,000 hospitalizations.  They didn’t happen.

OK, so a lot more people were infected than got sick.  Why is this good?

Enter the omicron variant of the pandemic virus.  It can evade the antibodies produced by all the current vaccines (in the West — protection against the Chinese killed viral vaccines CoronaVac and Sinopharm isn’t known yet).   Yet omicron doesn’t appear to produce severe disease. Thus far…

 

The CDC in the past week said of the 40+ omicron cases it knows about (there certainly are more out there, and more to come), there was one hospitalization (for two days) and no deaths.

Here is Dr. Fauci 12 December 2021 — “We’re getting anecdotal information … not necessarily confirmed yet, that the level of severity appears to be maybe a bit less than in the Delta. But there are a lot of confounding issues that it may be due to the underlying protection in the community due to prior infections,”

Source — https://nypost.com/2021/12/12/omicron-appears-to-evade-some-protection-from-covid-vaccines/

So the Chinese population may be sitting ducks for omicron having been given vaccines (Sinopharm, Coronavac) of unknown potency against omicron.  If their statistics are true there has been little or no natural infection with the pandemic virus in the Chinese population (which Fauci has just implicated is protective),.  Given that I have a son, daughter in law and two grandkids living in Hong Kong, I find this extremely disconcerting.

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