China Economic Sitrep

Industrial output, manufacturing down. Retail sales down.

 

IP growth y/y was -2.9% vs Bloomberg consensus -0.4%.

 

Retail sales y/y were down 11.1%, vs. down 6.1% consensus.

 

 

From Bloomberg today:

Monday’s data suggests gross domestic product declined 0.68% in April from a year ago, the first contraction since February 2020, according to estimates from Bloomberg Economics. Growth could weaken to below 2% in the second quarter, according to UBS Group AG, while S&P Global Ratings predicted it could be as low as 0.5%. Citigroup Inc. economists downgraded their full-year growth forecast for 2022 to 4.2% from 5.1%.

The wisdom of the zero-Covid strategy is rightly under question, given the omicron variant’s transmissibility. What worked before doesn’t necessarily work now. I’m not sure it’s the dominance of ideology (following Mao’s anti-swallow campaign) over science and pragmatism [1], although I’m (definitely) not privy to the inside deliberations of Zhongnanhai. The reasonable approach would be to rely on mass vaccination, masking, use of anti-virals, and social distancing — but that approach relies on a vaccine that is effective. There is some evidence that the Chinese (non-mRNA) vaccines are less effective than mRNA vaccines, although they’re still better than no vaccination (or hydroxychloroquine or ivermectin for that matter, which to the CCP leadership’s credit, they have not recommended).

In any case, this misguided approach has dramatic repercussions for the US as it threatens to extend the series of cost-push shocks striking the US economy.

49 thoughts on “China Economic Sitrep

  1. Macroduck

    Of considerable interest is the form of Covid most prevalent in China. The type of Omicron on the rise in the U.S. is less deadly but much more contagious than any prior variant. My understanding is that China’s difficulty in dealing with Covid now is that the same variety is dominant there, as well.

    The contagion rate of B.2 is more than China can hope to suppress through quarantine efforts. What is not yet known is the long-haul effects of this variant, but that is neither here nor there if China doesn’t employ effective vaccines. Quarantine won’t help with long-haul effects, because everyone will eventually be exposed.

    One big economic question is how China’s Covid-fighting efforts will interact with property market and debt problems, Russia-induced commodity scarcity and declining central bank liquidity around the globe.

    1. baffling

      “There is some evidence that the Chinese (non-mRNA) vaccines are less effective than mRNA vaccines, although they’re still better than no vaccination (or hydroxychloroquine or ivermectin for that matter, which to the CCP leadership’s credit, they have not recommended).”
      the lower efficacy has been pointed out many times on this blog. some have taken issue with that, but it is the truth. now you may well see the penalty for using a lower efficacy vaccine in china. I think that is what has driven the zero covid policy for such a long time. what I do not understand, is why the ccp did not take stronger action to fix this issue. they know the vaccines are weak and problematic. the only real solution was to deploy a better vaccine. why was that not done? there will always come a point in time where a virus will become more contagious than any lockdown can prevent. we very well could be headed for that point in china. another point of issue, is there seems to be much greater vaccine hesitancy in china than I would have envisioned. the ccp has less control over the population than I realized.

      1. Macroduck

        China peddled their vaccines all over the world. To adopt western vaccines would be to acknowledge a degree of bad faith. Not that customer countries are any longer deceived.

        1. Ivan

          Yes and similarly they have been yapping their heads off about how superior their zero-Covid approach has been. It would be humiliating to turn around get western vaccines and then take the “Swedish” approach of only instituting restrictions when the health care system gets under severe stress (not that the Chinese health care system is robust).

          The concept of adopting to the “Enemy” is well accepted in warfare, but many people don’t seem to get that it is even more critical in fighting a pandemic.

    2. AndrewG

      Good points. I’m glad MC followed up on your previous comment about the state of China’s economy in this post (whether or not that’s what prompted this post).

      And we shouldn’t forget that most of the data we are seeing is official – which may mean unreliable (and so perhaps too optimistic). The perils of authoritarianism.

  2. ltr

    https://news.cgtn.com/news/2022-05-17/Chinese-mainland-records-175-new-confirmed-COVID-19-cases-1a6kFwZ2R4Q/index.html

    May 17, 2022

    Chinese mainland records 175 new confirmed COVID-19 cases

    The Chinese mainland recorded 175 new confirmed COVID-19 cases on Monday, with 162 linked to local transmissions and 13 from overseas, data from the National Health Commission showed on Tuesday.

    A total of 925 new asymptomatic cases were also recorded on Monday, and 50,461 asymptomatic patients remain under medical observation.

    Confirmed cases on the Chinese mainland now number 222,130, with the total death toll from COVID-19 at 5,214.

    Chinese mainland new locally transmitted cases

    https://news.cgtn.com/news/2022-05-17/Chinese-mainland-records-175-new-confirmed-COVID-19-cases-1a6kFwZ2R4Q/img/c23938ea2c6449a6a3c99dff09f8d27a/c23938ea2c6449a6a3c99dff09f8d27a.jpeg

    Chinese mainland new imported cases

    https://news.cgtn.com/news/2022-05-17/Chinese-mainland-records-175-new-confirmed-COVID-19-cases-1a6kFwZ2R4Q/img/7c166f9b6b97428fbe261ee0885a9697/7c166f9b6b97428fbe261ee0885a9697.jpeg

    Chinese mainland new asymptomatic cases

    https://news.cgtn.com/news/2022-05-17/Chinese-mainland-records-175-new-confirmed-COVID-19-cases-1a6kFwZ2R4Q/img/a0183797e23c4499816daa1da6561513/a0183797e23c4499816daa1da6561513.jpeg

      1. ltr

        https://www.nytimes.com/2022/05/16/health/covid-reinfection.html

        May 16, 2022

        How Often Can You Be Infected With the Coronavirus?
        The spread of the Omicron variant has given scientists an unsettling answer: repeatedly, sometimes within months.
        By Apoorva Mandavilli

        A virus that shows no signs of disappearing, variants that are adept at dodging the body’s defenses, and waves of infections two, maybe three times a year — this may be the future of Covid-19, some scientists now fear.

        The central problem is that the coronavirus has become more adept at reinfecting people. Already, those infected with the first Omicron variant are reporting second infections with the newer versions of the variant — BA.2 or BA2.12.1 in the United States, or BA.4 and BA.5 in South Africa.

        Those people may go on to have third or fourth infections, even within this year, researchers said in interviews. And some small fraction may have symptoms that persist for months or years, a condition known as long Covid.

        “It seems likely to me that that’s going to sort of be a long-term pattern,” said Juliet Pulliam, an epidemiologist at Stellenbosch University in South Africa.

        “The virus is going to keep evolving,” she added. “And there are probably going to be a lot of people getting many, many reinfections throughout their lives.”

        It’s difficult to quantify how frequently people are reinfected, in part because many infections are now going unreported. Dr. Pulliam and her colleagues have collected enough data in South Africa to say that the rate is higher with Omicron than seen with previous variants.

        This is not how it was supposed to be. Earlier in the pandemic, experts thought that immunity from vaccination or previous infection would forestall most reinfections.

        The Omicron variant dashed those hopes. Unlike previous variants, Omicron and its many descendants seem to have evolved to partially dodge immunity. That leaves everyone — even those who have been vaccinated multiple times — vulnerable to multiple infections.

        “If we manage it the way that we manage it now, then most people will get infected with it at least a couple of times a year,” said Kristian Andersen, a virologist at the Scripps Research Institute in San Diego. “I would be very surprised if that’s not how it’s going to play out.” …

    1. ltr

      https://www.nytimes.com/2022/05/16/health/covid-reinfection.html

      May 16, 2022

      How Often Can You Be Infected With the Coronavirus?
      The spread of the Omicron variant has given scientists an unsettling answer: repeatedly, sometimes within months.
      By Apoorva Mandavilli

      A virus that shows no signs of disappearing, variants that are adept at dodging the body’s defenses, and waves of infections two, maybe three times a year — this may be the future of Covid-19, some scientists now fear.

      The central problem is that the coronavirus has become more adept at reinfecting people. Already, those infected with the first Omicron variant are reporting second infections with the newer versions of the variant — BA.2 or BA2.12.1 in the United States, or BA.4 and BA.5 in South Africa.

      Those people may go on to have third or fourth infections, even within this year, researchers said in interviews. And some small fraction may have symptoms that persist for months or years, a condition known as long Covid.

      “It seems likely to me that that’s going to sort of be a long-term pattern,” said Juliet Pulliam, an epidemiologist at Stellenbosch University in South Africa.

      “The virus is going to keep evolving,” she added. “And there are probably going to be a lot of people getting many, many reinfections throughout their lives.”

      It’s difficult to quantify how frequently people are reinfected, in part because many infections are now going unreported. Dr. Pulliam and her colleagues have collected enough data in South Africa to say that the rate is higher with Omicron than seen with previous variants.

      This is not how it was supposed to be. Earlier in the pandemic, experts thought that immunity from vaccination or previous infection would forestall most reinfections.

      The Omicron variant dashed those hopes. Unlike previous variants, Omicron and its many descendants seem to have evolved to partially dodge immunity. That leaves everyone — even those who have been vaccinated multiple times — vulnerable to multiple infections.

      “If we manage it the way that we manage it now, then most people will get infected with it at least a couple of times a year,” said Kristian Andersen, a virologist at the Scripps Research Institute in San Diego. “I would be very surprised if that’s not how it’s going to play out.” …

    2. AndrewG

      This is what happens when poor countries stop being poor. Shouldn’t surprise anyone. Taiwan did it a couple decades ago.

    1. AndrewG

      I’m no Kremlinologist, but as McFaul points out, surely the state would not allow this if they didn’t want to. Sounds almost like the Ides of March for Bald Hitler.

      1. pgl

        I have been advocating the Ides of March solution not just for Putin but also for Kimmie of North Korea as well as that pest living in Maro Lago. The world would be a better place if these three just disappeared.

        1. AndrewG

          Et tu, pgl?

          Jokes aside, I’m not advocating, just saying. Sounds like someone’s lost at his attempt at complete control.

      2. Ivan

        The top leadership in Russias military know how bad this is, and how much worse it could get if everything continues on current course. In the south they are no longer trying to expand the occupied area, but simply digging defensive positions at the current frontline. In Donetsk they appear to be abandoning the goal of taking the whole “state” and may soon also begin digging in defensively at the current lines. The only offensive Russian goal left seem to be taking the rest of Luhansk – and that is not going so well. The message from the Russian military is that “keep doing more of the same and pretending all is good”, will not be tolerated. Unfortunately, the Russian negotiator are facing a Ukraine that has immense self-confidence.

  3. ltr

    https://english.news.cn/20220516/2f290eb793fe44b589b6c7e30fb40ea2/c.html

    May 16, 2022

    China’s economy expected to recover gradually from Omicron impacts

    BEIJING — China’s economy is expected to recover gradually as the country achieves major anti-epidemic outcomes and pro-growth policies take effects, Fu Linghui, spokesperson for the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), said Monday.

    The country’s economy took a hit from the domestic resurgence of COVID-19 cases in April, but the impacts are “short-lived and external,” Fu said.

    “The fundamentals of the Chinese economy remain unchanged. The overall trends of economic transformation and upgrading and high-quality development remain unchanged,” he said.

    “There are many favorable conditions for stabilizing the economy and achieving the expected development goals,” the spokesperson said.

    With a super-large market, complete industrial and supply chains and huge domestic demand, the world’s second-largest economy has the resilience to ward off all kinds of challenges.

    Fu said that despite the impacts of the epidemic, grain and energy production maintained growth during the first four months, laying a solid foundation for fighting the epidemic and promoting economic recovery. In April, the output of raw coal, crude oil and natural gas rose 10.7 percent, 4 percent and 4.7 percent, respectively, year on year.

    Market supply of food and daily necessities was sufficient, with prices remaining stable. The consumer price index, a main gauge of inflation, rose just 2.1 percent year on year last month.

    High-tech industries posted stellar performances, with the production of new-energy vehicles and solar cells surging 42.2 percent and 20.8 percent year on year in April.

    China’s economy is expected to improve in May with the accelerating resumption of work and production in Shanghai and Jilin as well as the implementation of pro-growth measures.

    Although some indicators saw contractions in April, it does not mean the economy will slow in the second quarter, Fu said, underlining the roles of investment and consumption in revving up the economy.

    Manufacturing investment jumped 12.2 percent year on year during the first four months, while infrastructure investment maintained a growth of 6.5 percent year on year.

    “This shows that investment will provide important support to economic growth,” he said….

    1. ltr

      https://english.news.cn/20220512/4cfc86f9773b42168d22df8e83e18b8a/c.html

      May 12, 2022

      China’s investment in water conservancy up 45.5 pct

      BEIJING — China’s investment in water conservancy facilities totaled 195.8 billion yuan (about 29 billion U.S. dollars) in the first four months of 2022, jumping 45.5 percent year on year, data from the Ministry of Water Resources showed on Thursday.

      According to the ministry’s targets, construction on a total of 30 new major water conservancy projects will start this year, and investment in water conservancy construction will hit 800 billion yuan….

      https://english.news.cn/20220516/d2508dd22a5a4bec8cfd5f556cc746dc/c.html

      May 16, 2022

      China launches key river improvement program in Yangtze River Delta

      NANJING — A key river improvement program was launched in the Yangtze River Delta region on Monday, with China fast-tracking its water conservancy project construction.

      The program, the Wusong river improvement project, will cost approximately 83.1 billion yuan (12.24 billion U.S. dollars) and consist of two sections in Jiangsu Province and Shanghai.

      The Jiangsu section will be in Suzhou and will cost 15.6 billion yuan, with the funds allocated to river course improvement, water conservancy projects, bridges and other areas.

      The program will improve flood control in regions around Taihu Lake, China’s third-largest freshwater lake, according to Minister of Water Resources Li Guoying. It will also restore regional water ecology and facilitate the river shipping capacity between Suzhou and Shanghai….

  4. ltr

    https://news.cgtn.com/news/2022-05-17/China-builds-up-infrastructure-security-1a6l7ACzuLu/index.html

    May 17, 2022

    China builds up infrastructure security
    By Daryl Guppy

    Hard infrastructure sits at the core of what many people believe about China’s economy, so Chinese President Xi Jinping’s recent observation that “infrastructure serves as a pillar for economic and social development” confirms their belief.

    A hard infrastructure build will play a role in economic development, but even more important is the soft infrastructure build. A combination of internal and external factors is at play in pushing these infrastructure efforts into the spotlight.

    President Xi tied some of the infrastructure focus to the idea of security. Many Western analysts were quick to link this to military security rather than economic and environmental security.

    In particular, Xi mentioned improving the planning of waterways, the building of coastal and inland ports, and the upgrading of water transport facilities nationwide. He included developing a smart grid along with a series of new green, low-carbon energy bases and fine-tuning the oil and gas pipeline network.

    These are all related to non-military security and improve the country’s capability to cope with extreme situations such as those caused by climate change which is a major challenge to economic security. Mitigating the impacts of floods, typhoons, droughts and protecting arable land are the new security frontiers.

    Common prosperity and economic security are the foundation of all national security. It’s the idea of sovereign independence that cannot be threatened by sanctions, disruption to trade settlement, or interruption to trade routes. Unhackable soft infrastructure is the foundation of the digital economy.

    Some commentators see this call for infrastructure as a move to save China’s economy. These are the same people who have been forecasting the collapse of the Chinese economy for the past 20 years. They fail to see that China has a coordinated approach to breaking through the middle-income trap by developing the digital economy and continuing to improve the physical infrastructure and thus economic benefits are more widely spread.

    Domestically, the “dual circulation” strategy is designed, which takes domestic development as the mainstay, with domestic and international development reinforcing each other. Sovereign independence of supply chains is a lesson from COVID-19. The infrastructure required to build a digital and clean economy helps to break free of the middle-income trap….

    1. ltr

      https://news.cgtn.com/news/2022-04-26/Xi-Jinping-calls-for-advancing-infrastructure-construction–19ybIMqBrzy/index.html

      April 27, 2022

      Xi Jinping calls for advancing infrastructure construction

      Chinese President Xi Jinping, also head of the Central Committee for Financial and Economic Affairs (CCFEA), on Tuesday called for all-out efforts to strengthen infrastructure construction in the country’s building of a modern infrastructure system.

      President Xi made the remarks at the 11th meeting of the CCFEA.

      Infrastructure serves as a pillar for economic and social development, Xi said, urging the country to coordinate development and security, and optimize the layout, structure, functions and development models of infrastructure.

      The work of several central government departments were reported at the meeting.

      While giving credit to China’s achievements in major sci-tech facilities, water conservancy projects, transport hubs, information infrastructure and national strategic reserves, the meeting deemed the country’s infrastructure still incompatible with the demand for national development and security.

      Strengthening infrastructure construction in an all-round way is of great significance to ensuring national security, smoothing domestic circulation, facilitating the “dual circulation” of domestic and overseas markets, expanding domestic demand and promoting high-quality development, according to the meeting….

      1. macroduck

        In January of 2021, Xi said:

        “I said that we needed to shift the focus to improving the quality and returns of economic growth, to promoting sustained and healthy economic development, and to pursuing genuine rather than inflated GDP growth and achieving high-quality, efficient, and sustainable development.”

        http://en.qstheory.cn/2021-07/08/c_641137.htm

        In other words, excessive debt accumulation for low-return projects was to stop. What happens now? Back to debt accumulation to fund low-return infrastructure projects.

  5. Macroduck

    There are a handful of causes of current inflation in the U.S, including supply constraints for imports and labor, Russia’s war, OPEC policy, reluctant investors in the domestic energy sector, bird flue, drought,…

    There is research suggesting that commodity price shocks don’t affect longer-term inflation performance:

    https://www.bostonfed.org/publications/public-policy-brief/2011/do-commodity-price-spikes-cause-long-term-inflation.aspx

    This is reason to expect less in the way of rate hikes than suggested by the rate of inflation, since some part of that inflation is not likely to persist.

    1. pgl

      Thanks for this interesting research. Abstract:

      This public policy brief examines the relationship between trend inflation and commodity price increases and finds that evidence from recent decades supports the notion that commodity price changes do not affect the long-run inflation rate. Evidence from earlier decades suggests that effects on inflation expectations and wages played a key role in whether commodity price movements altered trend inflation. This brief is based on a memo to the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston as background to a meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee.

      OK this undermines the usual soap box preaching from JohnH as it supports the more conventional views of people like Paul Krugman. It also undermines the “cases” for that stupid commodity price rule for running monetary policy ala gold bug morons like Stephen Moore – something Dr. Chinn has often noted. Thankfully Trump never quite managed to put Moore on the FED.

      Then again some of the soap box rants ala JohnH has me thinking he too is a gold bug.

  6. ltr

    https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202205/1265687.shtml

    May 15, 2022

    China cuts rate floors on mortgages for first-time homebuyers in pro-growth move

    China’s central bank and banking and insurance regulator on Sunday moved to lower interest rate floors on mortgages for first-time homebuyers by 20 basis points (bps) off the benchmark loan prime rate (LPR), culminating a flurry of housing market-reviving moves across the country as part of a broader pro-growth push.

    The differentiated move is intended to support inelastic housing demand, while curbing property speculation, experts said, reckoning the structural policy easing will stabilize the housing market. They also expected more measures to boost domestic demand as the country emphasizes capitalizing on the internal circulation of the economy amid global geopolitical uncertainty.

    Apart from the 20 bps cut in the lower bound range of mortgage rates for first-time homebuyers, interest rate floors on mortgage lending for second-time homebuyers remain unchanged, read the momentous announcement on the website of the People’s Bank of China (PBC), the country’s central bank.

    The PBC described the fresh move as a revised housing credit policy differentiation, as the country reiterates its stance that housing is for living, not speculation, and eyes fostering a steady and soundly developing real estate market.

    [ Housing is for living, not speculation. ]

  7. David O'Rear

    In the past decade or so, it has become fashionable to opine that we all knew Chinese data were politically manipulated, er, I mean “suspect” back in the day, but of late the data are much more reliable. Pre-2020, this may well be a valid assessment.

    Those who believe this to still be the case are likely not to think about it much at all. They are likely to ignore the fact that the economy is under enormous stress, and that this is of great concern to the political leadership’s need for China to be admired. They are also likely to skip over the fact that Xi Jinping is not very much like his predecessors, and by all indicators wouldn’t have a problem with juggling a few figures to make his stewardship look better. More, there are no signs of anyone willing to stand up to Xi.

    Still, the available data is all we have, and for the most part, tends to be at least minimally consistent.

    With all that said, it is foolish to think that a monthly GDP figure for China has much real value.

    1. AndrewG

      Right, but by guessing who’s doing any manipulation, we can guess the direction of the bias. Biased estimates of anything are more useful if we can at least gauge the sign of the bias.

      1. David O'Rear

        I don’t understand.
        Knowing the direction of the bias — but nothing about its extent — is valuable in what way for a monthly GDP forecast?

  8. ltr

    https://fred.stlouisfed.org/graph/?g=GW60

    January 15, 2018

    General government gross debt as share of Gross Domestic Product for China, United States, India, Japan and Germany, 2007-2020

    https://fred.stlouisfed.org/graph/?g=mGFd

    January 15, 2018

    Total Reserves excluding Gold for China, United States, India, Japan and Germany, 2007-2022

    https://fred.stlouisfed.org/graph/?g=lv0w

    January 15, 2018

    Real Broad Effective Exchange Rate for China, United States, India, Japan and Germany, 2007-2022

    (Indexed to 2007)

  9. ltr

    https://www.thelancet.com/action/showPdf?pii=S2213-2600%2822%2900126-6

    May 11, 2022

    Health outcomes in people 2 years after surviving hospitalisation with COVID-19: a longitudinal cohort study
    By Lixue Huang, Xia Li, Xiaoying Gu, Hui Zhang, LiLi Ren, Li Guo, Min Liu, Yimin Wang, Dan Cui, Yeming Wang, Xueyang Zhang, Lianhan Shang, Jingchuan Zhong, Xinming Wang, Jianwei Wang and Bin Cao

    Summary

    Background

    With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, growing evidence shows that a considerable proportion of people who have recovered from COVID-19 have long-term effects on multiple organs and systems. A few longitudinal studies have reported on the persistent health effects of COVID-19, but the follow-up was limited to 1 year after acute infection. The aim of our study was to characterise the longitudinal evolution of health outcomes in hospital survivors with different initial disease severity throughout 2 years after acute COVID-19 infection and to determine their recovery status.

    Methods

    We did an ambidirectional, longitudinal cohort study of individuals who had survived hospitalisation with COVID-19 and who had been discharged from Jin Yin-tan Hospital (Wuhan, China) between Jan 7 and May 29, 2020. We measured health outcomes 6 months (June 16–Sept 3, 2020), 12 months (Dec 16, 2020–Feb 7, 2021), and 2 years (Nov 16, 2021–Jan 10, 2022) after symptom onset with a 6-min walking distance (6MWD) test, laboratory tests, and a series of questionnaires on symptoms, mental health, health-related quality of life (HRQoL), return to work, and health-care use after discharge. A subset of COVID-19 survivors received pulmonary function tests and chest imaging at each visit. Age-matched, sex-matched, and comorbidities-matched participants without COVID-19 infection (controls) were introduced to determine the recovery status of COVID-19 survivors at 2 years. The primary outcomes included symptoms, modified British Medical Research Council (mMRC) dyspnoea scale, HRQoL, 6MWD, and return to work, and were assessed in all COVID-19 survivors who attended all three follow-up visits. Symptoms, mMRC dyspnoea scale, and HRQoL were also assessed in controls.

    Findings

    2469 patients with COVID-19 were discharged from Jin Yin-tan Hospital between Jan 7 and May 29, 2020. 1192 COVID-19 survivors completed assessments at the three follow-up visits and were included in the final analysis, 1119 (94%) of whom attended the face-to-face interview 2 years after infection. The median age at discharge was 57·0 years (48·0–65·0) and 551 (46%) were women. The median follow-up time after symptom onset was 185·0 days (IQR 175·0–197·0) for the visit at 6 months, 349·0 days (337·0–360·0) for the visit at 12 months, and 685·0 days (675·0–698·0) for the visit at 2 years. The proportion of COVID-19 survivors with at least one sequelae symptom decreased significantly from 777 (68%) of 1149 at 6 months to 650 (55%) of 1190 at 2 years (p<0·0001), with fatigue or muscle weakness always being the most frequent. The proportion of COVID-19 survivors with an mMRC score of at least 1 was 168 (14%) of 1191 at 2 years, significantly lower than the 288 (26%) of 1104 at 6 months (p<0·0001). HRQoL continued to improve in almost all domains, especially in terms of anxiety or depression: the proportion of individuals with symptoms of anxiety or depression decreased from 256 (23%) of 1105 at 6 months to 143 (12%) 1191 at 2 years (p<0·0001). The proportion of individuals with a 6MWD less than the lower limit of the normal range declined continuously in COVID-19 survivors overall and in the three subgroups of varying initial disease severity. 438 (89%) of 494 COVID-19 survivors had returned to their original work at 2 years. Survivors with long COVID symptoms at 2 years had lower HRQoL, worse exercise capacity, more mental health abnormality, and increased health-care use after discharge than survivors without long COVID symptoms. COVID-19 survivors still had more prevalent symptoms and more problems in pain or discomfort, as well as anxiety or depression, at 2 years than did controls. Additionally, a significantly higher proportion of survivors who had received higher-level respiratory support during hospitalisation had lung diffusion impairment (43 [65%] of 66 vs 24 [36%] of 66, p=0·0009), reduced residual volume (41 [62%] vs 13 [20%], p<0·0001), and total lung capacity (26 [39%] vs four [6%], p<0·0001) than did controls.

    Interpretation

    Regardless of initial disease severity, COVID-19 survivors had longitudinal improvements in physical and mental health, with most returning to their original work within 2 years; however, the burden of symptomatic sequelae remained fairly high. COVID-19 survivors had a remarkably lower health status than the general population at 2 years. The study findings indicate that there is an urgent need to explore the pathogenesis of long COVID and develop effective interventions to reduce the risk of long COVID.

    1. ltr

      https://www.nytimes.com/2022/05/14/business/dealbook/working-with-long-covid.html

      May 14, 2022

      ‘Another Unequal Burden’: Working with Long Covid
      Some research has shown that lingering Covid symptoms are more prevalent in people in their 30s and 40s — when workers are often in the prime of their careers. How will companies support employees with debilitating symptoms that can linger for months or even years after infection?
      By Jenny Gross

      After graduating in the spring of 2020, Clare Banaszewski landed her dream job as a nurse practitioner in a maternity ward at a hospital in Omaha.

      That winter, Ms. Banaszewski, 24, contracted the coronavirus. It was a mild case, and she bounced back after two weeks. But it wasn’t long before she started feeling new symptoms: She was overcome with fatigue, struggling to make it through her 12-hour shifts, which used to fly by. She felt heart palpitations, suffered from cognitive problems and had severe headaches — telltale symptoms of a condition known as “long Covid.”

      She took three months of medical leave and started back with shortened, six-hour shifts. Even those were too much. Her manager was understanding, but she eventually told Ms. Banaszewski that the hospital would need to hire a replacement. Ms. Banaszewski resigned six months ago. She has been unemployed since….

  10. ltr

    Sweden was mentioned as being an example in approaching the coronavirus:

    https://www.nature.com/articles/s41599-022-01097-5

    March 22, 2022

    Evaluation of science advice during the COVID-19 pandemic in Sweden
    By Nele Brusselaers, David Steadson, Kelly Bjorklund, Sofia Breland, Jens Stilhoff Sörensen, Andrew Ewing, Sigurd Bergmann & Gunnar Steineck

    Abstract

    Sweden was well equipped to prevent the pandemic of COVID-19 from becoming serious. Over 280 years of collaboration between political bodies, authorities, and the scientific community had yielded many successes in preventive medicine. Sweden’s population is literate and has a high level of trust in authorities and those in power. During 2020, however, Sweden had ten times higher COVID-19 death rates compared with neighbouring Norway. In this report, we try to understand why, using a narrative approach to evaluate the Swedish COVID-19 policy and the role of scientific evidence and integrity. We argue that that scientific methodology was not followed by the major figures in the acting authorities—or the responsible politicians—with alternative narratives being considered as valid, resulting in arbitrary policy decisions. In 2014, the Public Health Agency merged with the Institute for Infectious Disease Control; the first decision by its new head (Johan Carlson) was to dismiss and move the authority’s six professors to Karolinska Institute. With this setup, the authority lacked expertise and could disregard scientific facts. The Swedish pandemic strategy seemed targeted towards “natural” herd-immunity and avoiding a societal shutdown. The Public Health Agency labelled advice from national scientists and international authorities as extreme positions, resulting in media and political bodies to accept their own policy instead. The Swedish people were kept in ignorance of basic facts such as the airborne SARS-CoV-2 transmission, that asymptomatic individuals can be contagious and that face masks protect both the carrier and others. Mandatory legislation was seldom used; recommendations relying upon personal responsibility and without any sanctions were the norm. Many elderly people were administered morphine instead of oxygen despite available supplies, effectively ending their lives. If Sweden wants to do better in future pandemics, the scientific method must be re-established, not least within the Public Health Agency. It would likely make a large difference if a separate, independent Institute for Infectious Disease Control is recreated. We recommend Sweden begins a self-critical process about its political culture and the lack of accountability of decision-makers to avoid future failures, as occurred with the COVID-19 pandemic.

      1. ltr

        http://econbrowser.com/archives/2022/05/china-economic-sitrep#comment-274847

        May 17, 2022

        It would be humiliating to turn around get western vaccines and then take the “Swedish” approach of only instituting restrictions when the health care system gets under severe stress….

        [ Taking the Swedish approach?

        https://www.nature.com/articles/s41599-022-01097-5

        March 22, 2022

        Many elderly people were administered morphine instead of oxygen despite available supplies, effectively ending their lives…. ]

    1. Moses Herzog

      @ ltr
      You’re just plain not very intelligent. How much do you think China trusts its own vaccines when they have complete lockdowns in the same cities that have been vaccinated?? I guess because you are a dumb person I have to let you know that’s a rhetorical question.
      https://www.reuters.com/world/china/shanghais-focus-shifts-vaccination-elderly-new-cases-decline-2022-04-28/

      BTW, your 2.33% number is even worse than China’s bullsh*t number. Are you wanting to make China look bad now?? Signed, Confused in Yates Center Kansas.

      1. baffling

        you beat me to the punch line. 3.36 BILLION vaccinations in a nation of 1.4 billion. and yet they still lock down? that shows a lack of faith in the Chinese vaccines, by the Chinese themselves.

        1. Moses Herzog

          I can tell you after “living it” for 7 years, the funnest part of dealing with mainland Chinese is when they tell on themselves for their own lies. They’ll tell you they have no grape juice spilled on their shirt at the same time they’re grabbing a new shirt out of the closet.

          BTW, it’s not “racist” to say mainland Chinese are prolific liars, the system of government and top-down management culture forces it on them. It’s like noticing Norway is poor at Summer Olympics and Kenya is poor at Winter Olympics. People adjust their behaviors to the reality of their immediate environment. If a system requires you to lie a great deal of the time, that is what the typical human being will do. This is why I have said on this blog umpteen times that if someone asks me what explains Chinese culture the best (or the negative parts of Chinese culture) W. Edwards Deming’s “red beads test” will tell you everything you need to know.

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