Successful tame of Chinese virus can make exit strategies more difficult

Taiwan, Taipei (AP) —The drastic “zero tolerance” strategy that China used to keep the number of COVID-19 cases low and its economy functioning paradoxically forces the country out of the pandemic. Can be difficult.

Most experts say that coronaviruses around the world are not gone, and if a sufficient number of people are immunized by an infection or vaccine, such as the flu, they will eventually be persistent but generally. We believe it can be a manageable threat.

In countries with relatively light restrictions on Omicron waves, such as the United Kingdom and the United States, there is a glimpse of hope that the process may be underway. Cases have surged in the last few weeks, then declined in the United Kingdom and may have leveled off in the United States. This is probably because highly contagious variants have run out of infected individuals. Some places have already talked about mitigating COVID-19 precautions.

China, which has gained international attention when the Beijing Winter Olympics begin in two weeks, has not seen a similar move.

The Communist government’s practice throughout the pandemic to find and isolate all infected people has largely protected hospitals from overwhelming and stopping deaths that have involved most of the world.

But an uncompromising approach also means that most people in China have never been exposed to the virus. At the same time, the effectiveness of the most widely used vaccine in China has been questioned. New studies suggest that even after three doses, the protection against infection by Omicron is significantly lower than that obtained after boosting the major Western vaccines.

At the same time, these factors can complicate China’s efforts to overcome the pandemic. Experts say that if 1.4 billion countries relax, they could face the same surges that Singapore and Australia have experienced, despite the highly vaccinated population.

“China’s susceptibility to outbreaks can be higher because most people are not exposed to the virus due to the rigorous measures taken and therefore lack hybrid immunity. It seems to prove better protection than vaccination alone, “he said. Vineeta Bal, an immunoscientist at the Institute of Science Education and Research, India.

“Omicron is widespread worldwide, so it’s dangerous for China to reopen now, and even if the variant doesn’t cause a major illness, it will spread like a wildfire,” she added. rice field.

Dali Yang, a professor of Chinese politics at the University of Chicago, said, “It’s a big challenge for leaders, especially for rhetoric about saving lives. Do you handle it?”

China’s President Xi Jinping cited China’s approach as evidence of its “major strategic success” and its “significant advantage” of its political system over Western liberal democracy.

The most populous countries in the world are the only major economies to grow in 2020 and account for some of the world’s deaths and infectious diseases.

As part of the country’s rigorous strategy to keep the virus away, residents of Chinese cities have been infected. Government monitored app Enter supermarkets, offices and even the capital.

But a few weeks before the Olympics, Omicron is testing this approach in southern Guangdong and Beijing.

The Olympic organizers have announced that they will not sell tickets locally and will only allow some spectators. Foreign fans are not allowed.

Authorities also urged people not to visit their hometown before or after the Lunar New Year in early February. This is a move to curb China’s most important family vacation spending. And part of Ningbo, a busy port south of Shanghai and the major cities of Xi’An, has been blocked.

China is unlikely to significantly ease its policies in the near future as the Communist Party prepares for a big conference where Mr. Nishi is expected to be appointed leader this fall.

“If the COVID numbers start to skyrocket, this will be badly reflected in his leadership,” said Willie Lambe, a Chinese political leadership expert at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

China is heavily dependent on its own country Sinovac When China National Pharmaceutical Vaccines, and several other vaccines manufactured domestically. Despite a Chinese company purchasing sales rights in 2020, Pfizer’s shots have not been approved.

Instead, the focus is on the development of China’s own mRNA vaccines, such as Pfizer and Moderna’s prescriptions. One such vaccine is in late-stage trials.

Another option for China is to track how the virus is evolving and postpone opening borders until the virus becomes more mild. But no one knows when or if it will happen.

“What about the next variant? How serious will it be? I don’t know,” Baru said.


Ghosal reported from New Delhi, India. Beijing Associated Press Business Writer Joe McDonald contributed to this report.


The Associated Press’s Department of Health Sciences is supported by the Science Education Department of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. AP is solely responsible for all content.