China Downgrades Omicron Risks To Seasonal Cold

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by Tyler Durden
Friday, Dec 16, 2022 - 12:20 AM

Although easing zero Covid restrictions in China will be met with reopening hardships as infections soar, earlier this week, one of the top medical advisers in the country said that the omicron variant of the virus is no worse than the flu. Now some Chinese cities are downgrading Covid even further, saying it's the same as the seasonal cold, and there is no need to panic. 

We pointed out earlier this week that China's renowned respiratory disease expert Zhong Nanshan downplayed the risks of the omicron subvariant of Covid-19. He said the death rate from omicron is .1%, equivalent to the common flu, and the infection doesn't reach the lungs, adding most healthy people recover in less than ten days. 

Zhong's comments come as Beijing pivots from zero Covid to reopen the economy and prevent further economic deceleration. Officials are now telling people they must learn to live with Covid -- a similar move that worked in Western countries. 

According to Shanghai Morning Post, Guangzhou health authorities have assured the public that Covid is less severe than the flu and no more serious than a seasonal cold: 

"The virulence of the new coronavirus [Omicron] has now evolved to the level of the seasonal flu, and some are even less virulent than the flu, so you really don't need to panic," said Tang Xiaoping, director of the No 8 People's Hospital in Guangzhou and head of the national key clinical department of infectious diseases.

China downplaying the severity of Covid from flu to cold is the latest sign Beijing is attempting to calm fears and quickly reopen the economy. And why would they be doing that? Well, check out overnight economic data: 

Overnight, a slew of economic data led to a decline in business activity in November. Retail sales fell 5.9% last month from a year earlier -- the biggest decline in consumer spending since May -- caused mainly by lockdowns. 

The unemployment situation also worsened to 5.7% last month, the highest level in six months. And industrial production only rose to 2.2%, about half of October's figures. 

Source: Bloomberg 

China's economic slowdown, and the acceleration to the downside, is a direct result of disastrous zero Covid policies, hence why Beijing is pivoting hard to reopen. 

Meanwhile, Feng Zijian, a former deputy chief at China's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, recently said the coming Covid wave could infect 80 to 90% of the Chinese population

China is battling its largest outbreak as infections soar. 

And Beijing's mindset is apparent: reopen the economy, and let the virus spread because there isn't much officials can do at this point unless they want to crash the economy. 

Beijing downplaying Covid as no more serious than a seasonal cold is a move to save its crumbling economy and calm public fears.