Airfinity’s COVID-19 forecast for China infections and deaths

Posted on Jan 17, 2023

Airfinity has updated its cases and deaths forecast for China’s COVID-19 outbreak as the Lunar New Year holiday hastens the spread of the virus.

Today’s new forecast considers reports that some provinces including Henan, Gansu, Qinghai and Yunnan have already seen infections peak.

Our analytics indicators suggest that the virus has spread more quickly to rural areas, partly driven by people traveling for the Chinese New Year celebrations.

This increased growth rate has changed our forecast from predicting two successive waves to one larger and more severe wave.

In our updated model, cases could peak at 4.8 million a day with 62 million infections predicted across a fortnight between 13th-27th January before beginning to fall.

Deaths are forecast to peak at 36,000 a day on the 26th of January during the Lunar New Year Festival. This is up from our previous estimate of deaths peaking at 25,000 a day. 

The implication of one larger wave as opposed to two smaller ones is increased pressure on hospitals and crematoriums and therefore also potentially a higher case fatality ratio.

Airfinity’s Analytics Director Dr Matt Linley says, “We now expect to see one larger and more prolonged wave with infections reaching a higher peak.

“Some provinces, such as Hubei and Henan, could see patient demand for intensive care beds being six times hospital capacity.

“Our forecast estimates a significant burden on China’s healthcare system for the next fortnight and it is likely that many treatable patients could die due to overcrowded hospitals and lack of care.”

Airfinity’s new model increases our estimate for the total number of cases since the 1st December from 72.9 million on 17th Jan to 99.5 million. While the total number of infections expected in this wave has remained the same at 228 million cases, our model now estimates these have occurred faster than previously expected.

The same is true for our estimates on deaths. Our new model estimates daily deaths to be 32,200 on the 17th January where the previous outlook predicted 23,700. Our new forecast estimates cumulative deaths from the 1st December 2022 to be 608,000 up from our previous estimate of 437,000.

Airfinity’s real time forecasts and analysis supports decision makers around the world to help them better understand and respond to the evolving situation. Get in touch to request full access to our COVID-19 data.

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