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  • 1440 Daily Digest

China Reveals COVID-19 Toll

Nearly 60,000 people in China died from COVID-related illness between Dec. 8 and Jan. 12, according to Chinese health officials Saturday. The announcement is the first official indicator of the magnitude of the country's outbreak since it lifted its aggressive zero-COVID policies in December.

The number is 12 times the total death count in China for the three years since the pandemic began in 2019 (see data), a number many countries suspect has been underreported. After antilockdown protests led to the removal of most COVID-19 safety protocols in November, cases skyrocketed to an estimated 37 million per day. China has long defined COVID-19 death narrowly as deaths due to respiratory failure or pneumonia; Saturday's announcement is the first that included fatalities from underlying issues, which comprised over 54,000 of the latest tally.

Officials observed 90% of deaths were in those ages 65 or older, the age group with the lowest vaccination rate. See photos of the wave of infections here.

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