China’s strategy to control Covid-19 through lockdowns, mass testing, and quarantines has raised concerns The largest public opposition show Against the ruling Communist Party for decades.
start, China It succeeded in suppressing the virus, but then more transmissible variants emerged, and in recent weeks the outbreak has grown with record numbers of reported cases.
Global health experts have criticized China’s methods as unsustainable, so with public discontent growing and discontent growing, why is China still pursuing its strategy to eliminate Covid?
Almost three years after Covid-19 was first detected in Wuhan, case numbers in China are still much lower than in most other countries.
However, this does mean that the population has had very little exposure to the virus and the vaccination rate is still lower than in many similar countries.
China has refused to import international vaccines and only uses domestically developed vaccines that have been shown to be less effective than those widely used elsewhere.
“Unfortunately, the vaccines in China have not been very good,” says Dr Paul Hunter, professor of medicine at Britain’s University of East Anglia, adding that vaccination levels for the most vulnerable people in China are low and much of the protection the vaccines provide has now vanished for those who have been They have been immunized for a long time.
Many infectious disease experts say China should now import mRNA vaccines made by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna, despite obvious political challenges from acknowledging the shortcomings of domestic vaccines.
Doubt and fatigue from vaccines are also factors. Writing in the GuardianProfessor Devi Sridhar, chair of global public health at the University of Edinburgh, says reports suggest that only about 40% of those over 80 have received a booster shot, and millions remain unvaccinated.
“[China] The vaccine did not roll out to elderly populations until November 2021, but by this time great skepticism had accumulated about the vaccine… The low efficacy of Chinese non-mRNA vaccines was also a concern: studies indicated that protection faded quickly and was not yet detectable six months.”
China has reported far fewer deaths than other large countries and has one of the lowest deaths per capita in the world, but it will eventually have to open its borders, a move that will inevitably lead to an increase in disease, says Dr. Hunter.
Dr. Hunter says restrictions should be lifted gradually to avoid hospitals being overwhelmed, and other restrictions, such as wearing masks, can also be put in place to reduce the spread of disease as much as possible.
“The increase will peak very quickly and it will also fade fairly quickly. But while they’re going through it, it’s going to be awful.”
Health analytics company Airfinity released projections on Monday estimating that as many as 2 million people in China could be at risk of dying if the country lifted its no-Covid policy, given low vaccination rates and a lack of natural immunity among its population. .
Analysts have also raised questions about China’s preparations for life after Zero Covid. While many countries have used the time given them by lockdowns to increase intensive care capacity, China still lags behind many other Asian countries.
Recent data appears China has fewer than five critical care beds per 100,000 people, compared with about 30 in Taiwan and more than 10 in South Korea and Thailand.
In what can be read as a rare criticism of the country’s health system, it is recent Comment article published in China’s state-run People’s Daily It quoted a drug analyst as saying that a full reopening could “threaten a health system that currently has far fewer intensive care beds than those in other developed countries.”
There is a general view that these factors, along with unequal access to health care, will likely see a significant number of deaths if the virus is allowed to sweep through 1.4 billion people.
The consensus among global health experts is that zero-COVID is not sustainable in the long term.
But in the face of unprecedented public opposition, there is little evidence that the authorities are prepared to deviate from the course they are currently on.
A recent editorial on the front page of China’s state-run Global Times newspaper claimed that “compared to the past two years, China faces an even tougher fight against the virus.” The article’s authors cite an unnamed expert who warns that the authorities may have to take “excessive measures”.
However, in what may be seen as a sign of growing public discontent, the Hu Xijin, the influential former editor of the Global Times, acknowledged the ongoing protests and said, “With the easing of epidemic prevention and control measures, public sentiment will soon calm down.”
Most Chinese are no longer afraid of infection. China may emerge from the shadow of Covid-19 sooner than expected.
The Associated Press contributed to this report
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