According to China, the hyper-contagious Omicron form has only caused a few cases of illness.
The South China Morning Post wrote yesterday, “so far China has reported nine Covid-19 cases caused by the Omicron variant, including two who were infected by a man returning from Canada.”
Meanwhile, the U.S. is averaging more than 237,000 cases per day,According to the most recent CDC research, Omicron is now responsible for over 59 percent of new cases. According to official estimates, the United States, which has a population of around 330 million people, is now averaging about 140,000 Omicron cases each day, while China, which has a population of 1.4 billion people, is averaging only one Omicron case per day.
Both of the official statistics are suspect. In the United States, not everyone who tests positive in an at-home test will tell public health officials, and there are likely many asymptomatic Omicron infected persons roaming about ignorant of their infection.
Meanwhile, official Chinese health statistics are ludicrously improbable. Even if we give China's policies of city-wide lockdowns and quarantining people by welding apartment doors shut the benefit of the doubt, it's simply not plausible that a virus that has proven to be wildly contagious in every other country suddenly became shy and socially awkward once it entered the Chinese Communist Party's jurisdiction.
Covid-19 instances have risen in recent weeks, and in some cases soared, in neighboring nations such as Laos and Vietnam. (Other nations bordering China, like as India and Mongolia, have not witnessed significant increases; this might be due to broad immunity following the Delta variant's dissemination, or to climate, weather, and behavioural patterns.) Whatever the cause of the higher case rates in other nations, the Chinese government's official statistics claim that both the Delta and Omicron variant waves had a negligible impact on the country.)
The Chinese assertion that the Omicron form has had no effect on them is even more unlikely in light of research showing that the Sinopharm and Sinovac vaccinations are useless against ordinary Covid and doubtful at best against the Omicron variation.
We can't even obtain straight answers on the status of Covid-19 in China right now, let alone the genesis of Covid-19 in China. It is well known in the fields of public health and international diplomacy. And almost everyone averts their gaze from Beijing's absurdly amazing official numbers, thinking that by ignoring the current deception, the Chinese government would become more honest in the future.
Over in Foreign Policy, James Palmer wonders if 2022 will bring the massive rise in cases that the Chinese government feared:
Even in a vaccinated population, a recent (but pre-omicron) Chinese study estimated that an outbreak on the scale of that in the United Kingdom or the United States could cause upwards of 10,000 or 20,000 severe cases a day. A lot would then depend on hospital resources and experience. China was able to cope with the Wuhan outbreak in part because of its ability to divert medical resources from across the country to the stricken city. A superspreading omicron that hit the whole country within a few weeks would be a nightmare—especially given that Chinese doctors, although world leaders in early treatment, don’t have the nearly two years of experience dealing with COVID-19 that clinicians in other countries do.
Yes, that is a possibility. The most plausible scenario is that China's anti-virus operations were never as successful as it claimed, and SARS-CoV-2 has been circulating in China for over two years, largely unreported. In an attempt to quantify the real death toll of the epidemic, The Economist calculates that between 160,000 and 1.8 million more fatalities have occurred in China since the outbreak began, relative to the "normal" trend. This number is nearly 17,000 percent higher than the official Chinese Covid-19 mortality toll of 4,636.
The Chinese people have probably been exposed to Covid-19 far more than the Beijing leadership is ready to disclose. That’s actually good news for the Chinese people; if and when Omicron arrives in force — if it hasn’t already — there will be far more people with existing natural immunity than the official statistics suggest.
But for the rest of us, China remains the same dark box it was at the outset of the epidemic, where we don't get much information from Beijing's government and what we do get is wildly unrealistic and inaccurate. Many times, we are fed unbelievable falsehoods to cover up a failing Chinese government strategy or decision. Are Olympic athletes at risk of contracting the virus in Beijing? Nobody is aware. How secure is air travel to and from China? Nobody is aware. Is there a substantial number of new varieties appearing in China? If they are, history suggests that the Chinese government will keep us in the dark until it is much too late.
Isn't it fortunate that these men got to host the Olympics?