Friday, January 26, 2024

Public Skepticism Grows in China as Officials Downplay COVID-19 Amid "Pneumonia" Outbreak

Public skepticism is growing in parts of China as health authorities attribute an ongoing pneumonia outbreak to influenza while downplaying COVID-19 infections.

Interviews with The Epoch Times with local Chinese found that the official rhetoric regarding the outbreak has been unconvincing, with many suspecting the infections are another round of COVID-19.

Residents in major cities such as Shanghai and Tianjin have reported severe infections in their communities, including “white lung” symptoms, which are typical in severe COVID-19 cases.

China’s National Health Commission spokesperson, Mi Feng, said on Jan. 14 that the current respiratory diseases are still mainly influenza, adding that the COVID-19 infection rate is low.

On Jan. 18, China’s National Influenza Center released its latest weekly influenza surveillance report, which found that the number of emergency department visits for respiratory infectious diseases in major hospitals has increased.

The main pathogen is the influenza virus, which will still be in the epidemic period over the next few weeks, according to the report.

However, as pointed out by medical experts, COVID-19 has never disappeared in China. In recent months, pneumonia infection cases soared across the country, exhibiting similar symptoms as COVID-19, with hospitals constantly overcrowded.

Chen Yun (pseudonym), a medical worker in the mega port city of Tianjin in north China, told The Epoch Times: “The government does not report, test, or manage the current epidemic, and does not take the epidemic as a priority at all.”

She said that currently, more people are suffering from white lung symptoms.

Mr. Zhang, also a Tianjin resident, told The Epoch Times that many people have been infected in this wave of the epidemic, many of whom are seriously ill and have developed white lungs.

“There must be some deaths from it, but the government just doesn’t report them,“ Mr. Zhang said. ”There are currently no beds available in hospitals; people have to wait in line for at least a day to get admitted.”

He said that both his parents were infected and were hospitalized a few days ago.

“It should be pneumonia; the chest X-ray looks pretty serious,” he said.

“After the doctor saw the chest X-ray, he said that the patient’s lung infection was quite serious, but the doctor didn’t say what virus he was infected with. In fact, they knew it but just didn’t say it,” he said.

“The doctor just said that they should be hospitalized for IV (intravenous ) treatment as soon as possible. There is no effective treatment in the hospital, and they are just putting them on IV treatment.”

Mr. Zhang said that the official media is simply not reporting on the mass infections as they should.

Mr. Chen, a Shanghai citizen, told The Epoch Times that it is now the fourth year of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said some people around him are currently infected, and their symptoms are quite severe.

A female colleague of his, who is about 35 years old and is the mother of two children, had an infection, and half of each lung became white.

“She requested to have a chest X-ray, and the X-ray revealed the white lungs. If she hadn’t requested, the hospital wouldn’t have taken a chest X-ray for her,” Mr. Chen said.

“As for the official data, I feel there are many problems. Sometimes they say it’s influenza A, and sometimes they say it’s influenza B. I think they must be covering something up.”

Mr. Chen complained about reporting on the issue in the state-run media, adding that reports on COVID-19 infections have been mentioned but given little attention.

Mr. Chen believed the intention of such official reporting is “in the future (when the epidemic gets very serious) it will say: ‘We reported it at the beginning’. But when they made the announcement, they couldn’t say it directly and tried to downplay it. The government needs pretty data in many aspects to make it look good, so it has to fake it, and it has ways to fake the data.”


Could Serum Protein Changes Link to Long COVID?

Could serum protein changes be the culprit behind long COVID? Could this observation done via a study of blood samples lead to possible biomarker for a long COVID diagnosis and maybe even treatments? Carlo Cervia-Hasler with University Hospital Zurich, University of Zurich and colleagues from multiple academic medical centers report the findings of a longitudinal analysis of blood serum from 113 patients who either fully recovered from COVID-19 or developed Long Covid, as well as healthy controls. Using high-throughput proteomics approaches, Cervia-Hasler et al. measured serum levels of 6596 human proteins across study participants. Those with confirmed acute COVID-19 were followed for up to a year, and their blood serum was sampled again at 6 months and at 12 months where possible. Patients experiencing Long Covid exhibited changes to blood serum proteins, indicating dysregulated activation of the complement system, altered coagulation, and tissue injury, suggesting ongoing thromboinflammatory responses.

The Problem

Approximately 20% of patients diagnosed with COVID-19 and about 5% of all SARS-CoV-2–infected persons develop lingering symptoms, called Long Covid, that can persist for many months. Symptoms of Long Covid can include fatigue, post-exertional malaise, and cognitive impairment, and involve multiple organs. Although previous studies have shown that patients with Long Covid display signs of immune dysfunction, persistent immune cell activation, and autoimmune antibody production, the root cause of Long Covid is poorly understood, and diagnostic biomarkers for the condition aren’t well defined. Currently, Long Covid also lacks an effective treatment.

Study Findings

In this latest study published in the November 2022 study in Science Translational Medicine investigators identified persistent neutrophil-associated immune signatures in pulmonary Long Covid.

The study’s authors demonstrate that at the cellular level, the thromboinflammatory signature associated with Long Covid was linked with increased monocyte-platelet aggregates.

Dysregulation of complement proteins may contribute to the thromboinflammation associated with Long COVID. The findings of the study identify potential biomarkers for Long Covid and new treatment strategies that warrant further diagnostic and therapeutic investigation. “Although therapeutic interventions with coagulation and complement inhibitors in acute COVID-19 produced mixed results, the pathological features specific for Long Covid suggest potential interventions for clinical testing,” writes Wolfram Ruf in a related Perspective.




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