All that said, the root pathogen remains COrona VIrus Disease, Variant 2019. Influenza varies in its nastiness every year, too, and there are three or four dominant strains per season.
And therein lies the folly of the China 0 Covid strategy. We can probably expect the same seasonal variation with covid over time basically in perpetuity at this point. It will be annoying but manageable, as flu season is. Are they planning on locking down Shanghai for like 30 years? Just until Xi dies? What's the endgame?
I can't access your FT link, but my basic point about confounders was there are so many things that go into the ultimate death rate, that at this point, it's probably impossible to account for all of them precisely. In the end it doesn't matter, because a low death rate is a low death rate, and hopefully on balance it will continue to wane. I also don't wear a mask unless it's mandatory at this point, and I can honestly say that the BA.2 variant is the first one that doesn't make me at all nervous. I think we've officially entered the endemic state and we'll just have to deal from now on.