The end game of China’s non-living policy nightmare

In December, researchers from Hong Kong establish that two doses of Sinovac did not produce enough antibodies against Omicron. The vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna, although less effective against Omicron than previous strains, still provide significant protection — especially after three doses. And even before the variants were introduced, the Chinese vaccine was still a bit behind Western mRNA shots. The numbers are clear: Sinovac is 51 percent effective in preventing symptomatic Covid infections. Pfizer is 95 effective percentage. China has yet to approve Pfizer and Moderna’s injections for mainland use, although Shanghai-based Fosun Pharmaceuticals has been awarded the rights to distribute Pfizer’s vaccines to Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.

The vaccine’s effectiveness problem is due to uneven coverage across China. Much of the country’s aging population remains unvaccinated and vulnerable – as a result of government decisions delay vaccination older adults to prioritize those in high-risk jobs and to ensure safe vaccines for older adults. (Chinese vaccine makers reportedly put fewer elderly people in late-stage trials than Western manufacturers.) Although China has opened its doors to vaccinations for the elderly since Aged 60 or older in March, health authorities have been acting cautiously, and vaccine hesitancy remains high — almost nine months after China started providing Covid-19 vaccines to people 60 years of age or older, about 50 million people in this age group are still unvaccinated. For people 80 years of age or older, vaccination rate between over 40% and less than 30% in some areas, a National Health Commission official told broadcaster CCTV in December.

Zhang Wenhong, an infectious disease specialist who became most reliable source about the pandemic, earlier this month stated that The mortality rate among the elderly remains high even after three doses. China has a estimate 4.37 ICU beds per 100,000 people, much lower than developed countries such as the US and Germany, which have 34.7 and 29.2 ICU beds per 100,000 people, respectively.

“The initial rationale for adopting a zero-Covid strategy was to buy time,” said Yanzhong Huang, a senior global health expert at the Council on Foreign Relations, a US-based organization. for a given percentage of the population to be vaccinated enough to achieve herd immunity. tank. “But the Chinese vaccine is not effective in preventing infection. They cannot tolerate even a small number of infections.”

What has long been a point of national pride has become a trap. With an ineffective vaccine and low protection from previous infections, a large-scale Covid outbreak could threaten vulnerable communities and overwhelm Australia’s healthcare system. China. To address this threat, China is adapting. In response to the Delta variant in August, the government moved from its original “zero-Covid” policy literally to its current “dynamic zero-Covid” strategy, looking instead for a quick Quickly prevent outbreaks when they are certain to happen.

That strategic shift doesn’t necessarily mean an easing of restrictions. In the short term, the state will continue to enforce strict measures, such as rapid lockdowns, because unlike many countries – where a lockdown has become politically and economically unfeasible. – China can do the same and is willing to pay the price, according to Ben Cowling, chair of the department of epidemiology at the University of Hong Kong. And from a purely economic point of view, this policy does not affect China too much. Recently report of the Australia and New Zealand Banking Group found that a dynamic zero-Covid approach has cut the Chinese economy’s gross domestic product by just 2.6%. “China is really good at disrupting and going to zero,” says Cowling. “It is very annoying and involves lockdowns, mass testing and isolating cases, but that affects a small number of people. If they can limit the spread, I think that is an optimal strategy.”

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