Experts from outside China have been demanding the CCP provide more information regarding the pandemic in China amid the ongoing flare-up.
China’s CDC announced a total of 72,596 deaths as of Jan. 19, since the recent wave of the pandemic last December. However, China’s overwhelmed hospitals and crematories across the country indicate a much higher death toll. A report by UK-based analytics company Airfinity estimates daily deaths of 33,900 and cumulative deaths of 708,000 since Dec. 1, 2022.
“With so many people dying [from COVID], one can gather that such an outbreak of the pandemic must be very severe,” said Professor Michael Ming-Chiao Lai, a prominent microbiologist from Taiwan, in an exclusive interview with the Chinese language edition of The Epoch Times on Jan. 17.
Lai is a globally well-known and respected virologist and is known as the “father of coronaviruses” for his role in tackling the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003. He has won many honors, including the Faculty Lifetime Achievement Award from the University of Southern California (USC) in 2008, and the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Society of Chinese Bioscientists in America (SCBA) in 2009 for his exceptional achievements in molecular virology, especially in hepatitis and coronavirus and their implications in diverse human infectious diseases, cancer, and therapeutics.
Lai criticized the CCP for covering up information on the virus.
“It is likely that the outbreak in China will impact the whole world,” said Lai, “We must prevent a virus strain from causing a global outbreak.”
The key to preventing such a global outbreak is to identify the virus or its subvariants, according to Lai.
“We need to know what subvariant is prevalent [in China]. If it’s a new subvariant, the previous immunity cannot completely protect people,” Lai said.
“Assuming that the virus strain that is prevalent in China is likely to spread to the world, we just hope that it will not affect that much,” said Lai.
Possible Mutations in China
BA.5.2 and BF.7—the current dominant Omicron variants—only cause upper respiratory infection, which is milder, as found in countries other than China.
In China, however, the CCP’s health officials claimed on Jan. 13 that these two subvariants accounted for 97 percent of the total 19 Omicron subvariants detected in the country.
Lai believes that the CCP’s data is not trustworthy because “China’s information has always been unclear and not made public.”
“The most critical point is whether it is the same virus or not as before that is prevalent in China,” said Lai in the interview, “the problem is that we don’t have enough data to make a final judgment in this regard.”
“That said, it is very likely that the mutant strains in China are a little different,” Lai said, stressing again that scientists need more true information from China.
“Different variants of the virus cause different symptoms. A slight change in the amino acid and gene sequence in the virus will change its immune properties and become a new mutant strain, which will not be defeated by the previous immune system. Some strains of the virus can cause more severe illness,” said Lai.
Lai’s words echoed those of Dr. Yan Limeng, who was a member of the well-connected WHO influenza H5 Reference Lab based at the University of Hong Kong School of Public Health before she fled to the United States after questioning the origin of the COVID-19 virus.
Yan said that it doesn’t make sense that the same Omicron variants have resulted in a much more severe pandemic outbreak in China than in the world in a recent interview with The Epoch Times.
She told the publication on Jan. 10 that her team had found “a small change” in the Omicron subvariants carried by Chinese travelers to Italy, which can cause immune escape and do more damage to the human body.
Yan also blasted the CCP for covering up the pandemic data in China. She said that her team had been studying whether the immune escape is natural or manmade. They need “more time and more opportunities to find more evidence” due to the difficulty to access the true data of the pandemic in China.
‘Against Medical Ethics’
The CCP’s abrupt U-turn of its signature zero-COVID policies is “against medical ethics,” said Lai.
“I don’t agree with long-term isolation policies,” Lai said, adding that it is impossible to eliminate viruses and that people have to learn to live with them. The CCP’s stringent COVID containment measures widely damaged Chinese society, including its economy, education, and business activities.
Since last December, the CCP pushed for massive infections in an effort to achieve herd immunity quickly, while at the same time, it lacked adequate preparations of medical resources for the people and has caused numerous deaths in China. The true death toll has yet to be exposed.
Lai doesn’t agree with this extreme approach either.
“This approach [of massive infections] is to sacrifice some people to protect some other people, which is not workable ethically,” Lai blasted the CCP’s practice.
“There shouldn’t be such an idea of protecting some people by sacrificing other people, which is against [medical] ethics. We must protect everyone,” Lai stressed.
Xia Dunhou and Chang Chun contributed to this report.