The Lunar New Year began in China on Sunday, amid the worsening health crisis caused by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
The advent of the new year coincided with health authorities announcing that they had recorded around 13,000 additional deaths from the virus during the week of January 13 to January 19.
And the chief consultant for communicable disease control at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Wu Zunyou, said (Saturday) that 80% of Chinese were infected with the virus.
Zunio said the possibility of a resurgence of the epidemic by a new epidemic wave in the next two or three months is unlikely.
He said the start of the world’s biggest human migration season – Chinese people travel from cities to their towns and villages to enjoy the New Year holidays – could lead to the spread of the virus in parts of China; However, the possibility of a new epidemic wave is unlikely in the short term.
And Chinese people had not been allowed to travel on this holiday for three years, when China was under infection eradication measures, known as the “zero Covid” strategy, which the Chinese government scrapped on 7 December.
And it ended with Beijing’s decision to open the country’s international borders, and allow internal and external movement, from January 8. This raised fears of a wave of new infections with the Omicron strain sweeping China. Yesterday a queue was seen twisting about a kilometer outside the Lama Temple in Beijing, where Chinese people lined up for the chance to pray and pray for those they lost to the Corona epidemic. The temple, which is one of the landmarks of the Chinese capital, has been closed for three years. Chinese people standing in front of the temple said they wished the “Year of the Rabbit” – the Chinese Lunar New Year – would be a year of good health for all Chinese people.
And China announced last week that it had recorded nearly 60,000 deaths from Covid-19 from December 8 to December 12. Health authorities insist the wave of new infections has peaked and entered a phase known as the flattening of the level of new infections.
The sudden opening after a strict three-year lockdown has left hospitals and “fever clinics” overwhelmed with patients. Funeral homes and cremations were also filled with relatives of virus victims. Health experts have said China’s death toll from the virus does not include those who died at home. And the media quoted Chinese doctors saying authorities had urged them not to list Covid-19 as a cause of death on death certificates.
Reuters reported yesterday that official documents show an increase in spending by burial businesses to buy more bags in which the bodies of the deceased are wrapped, as well as spending on cremation ovens. It is an indicator of the increase in deaths in China.
Western health experts have predicted epidemic deaths in China this year will reach more than 1 million deaths. British company Irfinity, which specializes in collecting health data, said it expects deaths in China this week to reach 36,000 daily. The fear of a new wave of infections coincides with the season of Chinese migration to the countryside due to poor infrastructure of health facilities in remote rural areas. China’s Ministry of Transport estimated that the number of train trips reached 110 million during the period from Jan. 7 to Jan. 21, the first 15 days of the 40-day New Year celebrations, according to Chinese traditions.
And the China Daily, the mouthpiece of the ruling Communist Party, said New Year’s Eve witnessed 36.23 million trips by train, road, boat and plane. Reservations on international flights have come under intense pressure, due to the desire of the Chinese to carry out their tourist trips, during which they are estimated to spend 255 billion dollars annually around the world.
Yesterday, the cumulative number of Covid-19 infections in Japan rose to 32 million since the outbreak of the Corona virus in late 2019; Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has said that his government intends to reconsider the prevention measures it is adopting next spring, in particular by lowering the classification of Covid-19 to a lower level of danger, while guiding the population on the need to wear masks. in closed public places. The Japanese Prime Minister said he had instructed his ministers to study the reclassification of Covid-19 to the same rank as seasonal flu. In Japan, COVID-19 is currently classified as a Class II health hazard. Kishida intends to classify it as a class 5 health hazard.
This reduction will require the cancellation of the sanitary isolation requirement for people infected with the virus and their close contacts. The Japanese Prime Minister has indicated that guidelines will be issued advising only Japanese infected with the virus to wear a muzzle in public places, while it will not be mandatory for others to wear a muzzle outside, while urging them to maintain physical distancing.
However, the Japanese in general insist on wearing a muzzle in all open and closed places.
Eli Lilly, the American pharmaceutical company, has announced that the US Food and Drug Administration has rejected its request to fast-track approval of a drug developed by its scientists to treat Alzheimer’s disease.
The authority justified its decision by not providing the company with sufficient data on the health of volunteers who followed the new drug for a period of at least one year.
The new drug is called donanimab. It is an antibody drug designed to eliminate amyloid protein deposited in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease.
The FDA argues that its refusal to approve donanimab reflects its concern about the lack of data required before the drug is approved. Eli Lilly, for his part, insisted that a number of patients stopped taking the new drug within just 6 months, as the drug successfully cleared the aforementioned protein deposits in 40% of the volunteers.
The company has confirmed that it will soon complete the third phase of its clinical trial, the data from which will form the basis of its application for full release of the new drug. It will include drug safety data for at least 100 volunteers.
More hope for patients with sickle cell anemia
Two pharmaceutical companies in the United States have sought Food and Drug Administration approval for two drugs developed by their scientists to treat sickle cell anemia, sparking a mixture of hope and fear in patients who have lived their entire lives at the mercy of this disease. Many of them had to drop out of school.
Many of them also think that they will not find a job, because their illness requires them to be frequently hospitalized. Others fear the potential effects of this genetically modified drug. Official statistics indicate that at least 100,000 Americans are infected with this disease, the majority of whom are black and of Hispanic and Latin descent, and some of them are of Mediterranean and Indian descent.
The two new drugs are from Bluebird Bio and Vertex and CRISPR Therapeutics. Their clinical trial data indicates that both drugs freed patients from excruciating pain. Their blood is no longer filled with red blood cells. Sickle cell anemia is thought to be prevalent in Nigeria, where around 150,000 children are born with it each year. And health insurance companies in America say the cost of health care per patient reaches $1.7 million over their lifetime.
The families of the patients say their care has led to their loss of employment, as employers resent the frequent absence of the injured and their families. The New York Times reported that the new treatment for sickle cell anemia begins by subjecting the patient to intensive chemical treatment to cleanse the bone marrow, allowing genetically modified red blood cells to grow. This requires keeping the patient in the hospital for a month until these red blood cells multiply. The patient remains without immunity for 6 months after leaving the hospital.
Patients said they would not seek the new treatment because sickle cell anemia has become a regular part of their lives. However, patients who volunteered to take part in clinical trials of the two aforementioned drugs confirmed that their lives had completely changed and that pain had become a thing of the past for them. Health experts say that despite the promising promises of the two new drugs, they will not undo the damage suffered by patients as a result of years of suffering from this disease, such as joint damage.
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