Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Taiwan CDC Warns Of Increasing COVID Hospitalizations & Deaths


Just over 3 weeks ago (May 1st) Taiwan joined most of the rest of the world when they Downgraded COVID-19 to a Category 4 reportable Disease and disbanded their Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC), stating that the `. . .  severity of COVID-19 decreased, the domestic coronavirus situation continued to be stable, and infections remained at a low point."

While not exactly declaring victory over the pandemic, most countries have opted for an uneasy truce with the virus, gambling that existing immunity and the relatively `mild' impact of Omicron would blunt future outbreaks. 

The virus, however, never signed on to this plan and is surging once again in parts of Asia. Eleven days ago in Hong Kongs COVID Resurgence, we saw a roughly 10-fold increase in cases over the past 6 weeks, while the WHO has reported sharp increases in Southeast Asia in recent weeks.

Today - in sharp contrast to 3 weeks ago - Taiwan is reporting increasing numbers of hospitalizations (and deaths) as XBB variants continue to increase their hold on the nation. 

Local media (see CORONAVIRUS/Serious COVID-19 cases up 30% as Taiwan enters 4th Omicron wave: CDC), are quoting their CDC Deputy Director-General Tseng Shu-huai as saying this surge is expected to peak between mid-and-late June.

The following (translated) report from their CDC describes these increases, and calls on those over 65 to complete their vaccination as soon as possible. 

The COVID-19 epidemic is on the rise, with an average of 204 new local cases (complications) of COVID-19 per day last week.

Appeal to the elderly over 65 years old who have not yet completed 3 doses of COVID-19 vaccination to complete the vaccination as soon as possible; in addition, local governments will also provide hygiene education materials below 500 yuan (inclusive) from May 24 to encourage the elderly to actively vaccinate

Release date: 2023-05-23

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced today (23) that since the implementation of the new system on 3/20 in China, an average of 204 local confirmed cases (complications) of COVID-19 have been added every day in the past 7 days (5/17-5/23), which is higher than before. On the 7th (5/10-5/16), the daily average of 154 new cases increased; since May, a total of 3,447 cases of local complications have been accumulated, of which 1,703 cases (about 49%) have not received 3 doses of vaccines, and 1,184 cases (about 34%) had not received a single dose of the vaccine.

Last week (5/14-5/20) there were an average of 18 new deaths per day, an increase from the average daily death rate of 15 cases in the previous week (5/7-5/13); 92% of the new deaths With a history of chronic diseases, 67% have not received 3 doses of vaccines, and 94% are over 60 years old. Comprehensive analysis of the trend of cases, the use of medical resources, the number of oral antiviral drugs prescribed, and the positive rate of residential institutions shows that the epidemic is on the rise and requires continuous monitoring.

The CDC pointed out that 196 confirmed cases of Omicron subtype variants were newly detected last week. Among them, 129 local cases were 72 cases of XBB (including 28 cases of XBB.1.5 and 16 cases of XBB.1.16), 53 cases of BA.2.75, 3 cases of BQ.1, and 1 case of BA.5; the other 67 cases were imported There were 61 cases of XBB (including 14 cases of XBB.1.5 and 26 cases of XBB.1.16), 5 cases of BA.2.75, and 1 case of BQ.1.

In the past four weeks of monitoring, XBB (48%) has become the mainstream virus strain in China, followed by BA.2.75 (45%) and BQ.1 (5%). The proportion of XBB has exceeded BA.2.75 and continues to rise. Popular, must be closely observed. According to the WHO, XBB, BQ.1 and BA2.75 variants have better transmission and adaptability, and the BA.5 next-generation vaccine is still protective against the variants, and the global XBB and its derivative variants account for about 87.9% , with XBB.1.5 as the majority (43.8%), and the proportion of XBB.1.9.1 (13.9%), XBB.1.16 (11.6%) and XBB.2.3 (4.6%) increased, but the existing evidence shows that the severity of the disease There has not been a significant increase, and we will continue to closely monitor the evolution and prevalence of international virus strains.

The CDC further stated that in response to the recent increase in the domestic COVID-19 epidemic, 75% of the complications are elderly people over the age of 65, and most of the complications and deaths have a history of chronic diseases and have not received 3 doses of vaccines. The risk of severe illness and death will occur after 19. The elderly are requested to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as possible to obtain protection as soon as possible. In addition, in order to strengthen and encourage the elderly to vaccinate as soon as possible, local governments will provide 500 yuan (inclusive) to the elderly over the age of 65 who have not received the basic dose, basic booster dose or the first supplementary dose of COVID-19 vaccine from May 24 this year The following hygiene products.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention emphasized that the health threat of COVID-19 has not disappeared after the epidemic prevention is lifted, and vaccination is the best way to protect yourself. As of April 30 this year, the vaccination coverage rate of the elderly over 65 years old was 86.8% for the first dose, 84.1% for the second dose, and 77.8% for the first supplementary dose. Nearly 30% of the vaccinations were not completed. The elderly are urged to go as soon as possible Get vaccinated against COVID-19 and complete 3 doses early to get full immunity. At the same time, in order to strengthen the promotion of COVID-19 vaccination, the CDC held a contact meeting with the health bureaus of the county and city governments yesterday (22) to coordinate and ask the counties and cities to integrate resources within their jurisdictions for vaccine promotion and urging operations. Promote vaccination, arrange contracted medical institutions under their jurisdiction to provide vaccination services, and increase the disclosure of relevant vaccination information to increase the accessibility of vaccination for the public.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention once again appealed that vaccination against COVID-19 can reduce infection and reduce the risk of severe illness and death. It reminds those who have not completed 3 doses of vaccination to get vaccinated as soon as possible, and the additional doses are recommended to be vaccinated with Moderna BA.4/5 times Generation vaccines to enhance immune protection; In addition, people who have not been vaccinated with Moderna BA.4/5 generation vaccines this year are also encouraged to vaccinate to jointly improve immune protection. At the same time, the public is reminded that before going to get the COVID-19 vaccine, they should prepare their health insurance card or other identification documents. If they are receiving the second or additional dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, please remember to bring the "COVID-19 Vaccination Record" Card", and explain the past vaccination history during the pre-vaccination assessment, so as to facilitate the doctor's assessment. After vaccination, you must pay more attention to your physical condition, drink plenty of water and rest more. Please also ask your family members to help you pay attention. Seek medical attention as soon as possible to find out the cause. In addition, for relevant vaccination information and distribution of health education products, please refer to the information announced by each county and city.

Between declining immunity over time (either from vaccines, prior infection, or both), and the emergence of new, and more transmissible  XBB variants (XBB.1.*, XBB.2*), this `Asian surge' could easily expand globally in the coming months.

While COVID's impact (based on massively reduced testing and reporting) appears relatively minor right now here in the United States and Europe, Taiwan's rapid turn-around illustrates how quickly things can change. 

While politicians may declare the crisis over, what happens next will be determined by the virus.