SARS-CoV-2 is still ravaging the world 2.4 years after it first appeared in China. For the first 2 years, many countries were vigilant in the defense of their people against the spread of COVID-19 but since early this year many countries have given up the fight assuming that with the wide availability of effective vaccines Omicron is mild enough to live with and too contagious to resist.
Taiwan and mainland China were both hit with the latest Omega subvariant BA.2 in March. While China has continued with its zero-COVID policies, Taiwan gave up on its zero-COVID policy 4 weeks ago along with most other countries. The results show how rapidly and explosively the virus can spread with few mitigations in place.
Cases are growing exponentially in Taiwan with 17k new cases reported yesterday while China reported 7.4k. If China had dropped its zero-COVID policy a month ago, it could have reported 1M new cases yesterday (scaling up Taiwan’s numbers). While there has been tremendous criticism of China’s draconian COVID policies, 1M cases/day would have elicited huge global criticism.
The real question is how will Taiwan’s hospitals handle the potential influx of patients and how many people will die. We believe the current death rate in Taiwan reflects case counts from two weeks ago and so the ultimate death toll may be 15X higher or 0.5 per million or 12 deaths/day. Taiwan may have decided that this is a death toll, mostly among the elderly and immunocompromised, that they are willing to live with; for China 700 deaths/day may be too horrendous.