Credible medical authorities in Germany claim the COVID pandemic is quickly coming to an end; they say it is turning into an endemic, according to the Epoch Times. A pandemic causes widespread illness and hardship; an endemic is more stable and manageable. Meanwhile, reports from China, the birthplace of COVID and the most populated nation on the planet, indicate that there may have been as many as a 250 million — a quarter of a billion — new cases of COVID last month alone in that country.
CNN says the new Chinese COVID count, as reported by Bloomberg News and the Financial Times, was revealed by China’s National Health Commission [NHC] but that it has not been confirmed. Both Bloomberg and the Times said that on “last Tuesday alone, 37 million people were newly infected with COVID-19 across China. That stood in dramatic contrast to the official number of 3,049 new infections reported that day.” Meanwhile, Beijing officially reported just eight COVID deaths in December.
A worrisome report in a separate Epoch Times edition notes that while the disease spreads across the country unchecked, NHC has given the authorities in Beijing the okay to let Chinese travelers begin booking international travel. Research indicates that “Chinese residents are rushing to book overseas trips … Chinese travel platform Tongcheng Travel released data on Dec. 27, showing that the number of searches for visas to go abroad increased by 10 times, and the search volume of international air tickets soared by 850 percent … Japan, Thailand, South Korea, the United States, Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, and the UK were among the most searched destinations.”
U.S. reaction to the news was swift with new restrictions for travelers coming from China, Hong Kong and Macau. NPR reports the Centers for Disease Control [CDC] is now requiring “all passengers over the age of 2 [from those locations] must show a negative PCR or monitored antigen test no more than two days before their departure, whether it is a direct flight or an indirect one through another country.”
Not so for the European Union [EU]. The 27 nations in the EU have decided — at least for now — to ignore the Chinese threat of a new pandemic. Brigitte Autran, head of the French health risk assessment committee, says “from a scientific point of view, there is no reason at this stage to bring back controls at the borders,” according to Reuters. Only Italy is not observing the EU protocol; that country was hard hit when the COVID pandemic got started way back when and they are not taking any chances now — at least for the time being. The news agency says that when the international airport at the Italian city of Milan resumed testing passengers arriving from Beijing they found that almost half of them tested positive for COVID.
The news from China couldn’t come at a worse time now that Deutsche Welle [DW], the state-owned German broadcasting company, is reporting that the pandemic may be winding up in the not to distant future. DW cites Dr. Christian Drosten, head of virology at Berlin’s Charite University Hospital, who reported that “We are experiencing the first endemic wave with Sars-CoV-2 this winter; in my estimation the pandemic is over.” German Justice Minister Marco Buschmann took Drosten’s declaration to heart and is calling for an end to all restrictive COVID measures that are in place in Germany.
As comforting as the news from Germany might be, what’s happening in China is devastatingly scary. Chang Che, Asia technology correspondent for the New York Times, reports that “a picture is emerging of the virus spreading like wildfire” in China. A Christmas Day article he wrote indicates that Beijing may be deliberately issuing false COVID counts.
Of late, “state media outlets have downplayed COVID’s severity, focusing on stories of recovery rather than of severe illness. The result has been a one-sided presentation of an outbreak that some experts believe could cause over a million deaths in the coming months. China has acknowledged only seven deaths from COVID in the past two weeks and a few thousand new cases daily, which health experts call a vast undercount … Karen Grepin, a public health expert at the University of Hong Kong, estimates that China could be facing tens of millions of new cases a day, based on estimates extrapolated from Hong Kong’s own outbreak this year.”
It remains unknown whether outbreaks of new COVID variants in China can or will find their way into other countries the way it did the first time around. But the news is being taken seriously, at least in the U.S. A separate Newsmax report points out that “there are mounting concerns in the international community on the ongoing COVID-19 surges in China and the lack of transparent data, including viral genomic sequence data, being reported from the PRC [COVID tests],” according U.S. officials.
In other news, a new term emerged not long ago, “long COVID.” It refers to the recurrence of post-COVID symptoms that can last for weeks, months and even years. Newsmax Health recently delved into the phenomenon and found that “millions of people worldwide have had long COVID, reporting symptoms including fatigue, lung problems, and brain fog and other neurological symptoms. Evidence suggests most recover substantially within a year, but recent data show that it has contributed to more than 3,500 U.S. deaths.”
The Newsmax report says that some 30% of COVID victims will develop long COVID and that a recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that “most people who have lingering, recurrent or new symptoms after infection will recover after about three months. Among those with symptoms at three months, about 15% will continue to have symptoms for at least nine more months.”
John Grimaldi served on the first non-partisan communications department in the New York State Assembly and is a founding member of the Board of Directors of Priva Technologies, Inc. He has served for more than thirty years as a Trustee of Daytop Village Foundation, which oversees a worldwide drug rehabilitation network.