Xi Jinping faces a political crisis: Can the Communist Party move forward with its zero-covid policy? A case study on Weibo
The Communist Party and its leader were facing a crisis that was not seen for decades when a new, deadly virus took over the central city of Wuhan in early 2020.
Fighting back tears, she shouts abuse at the hazmat-suited workers below in a video that has recently gone viral on social media platform Weibo and which appears to encapsulate the Chinese public’s growing frustration with their government’s uncompromising zero-Covid policy.
The woman has been under quarantine for half a year since returning from university in the summer, she shouts at the workers. They looked back and seemed unmoved.
Even as signs show that China’s population has natural immunity, it doesn’t mean the virus is gone or that China’s health care systems are prepared for a future surge, experts say.
That claim comes even as infections flare and a new strain circulates just days before the country’s most important political event, the Communist Party Congress beginning in Beijing on Sunday at which Xi Jinping is expected to cement his place as the country’s most powerful leader in decades.
Observers across the world will be watching to see what the party decides to do regarding its zero- covid stance, which has been blamed for causing problems in the economy and being a factor in the collapse of the housing market.
Say no to the Covid test and yes to food. Yes, to freedom, no to lock up. No to lies, yes to dignity. No to cultural revolution, yes to reform. No to great leader, yes to vote. One banner read, “Don’t be a slave, be a citizen” while the other had a call for the removal of “dictator and national traitor” Xi Jinping.
Weibo, a Twitter-like platform, immediately censored search results for “Sitong Bridge,” the site of the protest. Key words like “Beijing,” “Haidian,” and “warrior” were restricted from search before long.
The popular Chinese social media sites, Wemo and WeChat, have banned many accounts after they commented on the protest.
Still, many spoke out to express their support and awe. Some shared the Chinese pop hit “Lonely Warrior” in a veiled reference to the protester, who some called a “hero,” while others swore never to forget, posting under the hashtag: “I saw it.”
China’s zero Covid lockdown has caused havoc in the country, and the response to Chinese media in the three months after the Golden Week
Yet even in the face of rising public discontent, all the signs suggest Xi and his party plan to stick with the zero-Covid approach, possibly into 2023, with the state media articles this week serving to dampen speculation the country may change tack post-Congress.
The lockdown also wracked havoc on the economy. China’s GDP shrunk by 2.6% in the three months ending in June, while youth unemployment hit a record high of nearly 20%.
It’s also not clear how many people were infected overall since China relaxed the zero-Covid policy – raising further questions about how authorities calculated the undisclosed Covid fatality rate, which experts say is typically measured by dividing the number of deaths over the total number of cases.
People in the city have reportedly been drinking more water than they can get because of the potential of unpredictable snap lock-ups and the fact that the authorities have previously changed their minds.
The water authorities have taken action to ensure water quality after it was discovered that saltwater had flowed from the mouth of the Yangtze River in September.
Just as dramatic as the policy shifts is the shift in messaging coming from the public health experts the Chinese government has relied on since the virus was first identified in China in late 2019, risking their credibility ahead of what is likely to be a giant wave of infections.
The country has seen an increase in cases of domestic tourism despite the strict curbs that prevented people from going to China during the Golden Week holiday.
More than 240,000 university students in Inner Mongolia have been locked down on campuses due to the latest outbreak, according to Zhang Xiaoying, a deputy director of the regional Department of Education. There was an outbreak on the campus that led to the dismissal of a Communist Party boss after 39 students from his institution tested positive.
In far western Xinjiang, more than twenty million people have been banned from leaving and are forced to stay in the region. There were over 400 new cases in the state according to the official tally.
Beijing is unwilling to budge from its hardline stance. For three days this week, the state-run Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily published commentaries reiterating that China would not let its guard down.
A three-term Chinese leader under zero-Covid in the lead-up to his third term as chairman of the Communist Party National Committee (CNC)
As an unprecedented wave of infections – and deaths – sweeps the country, many have questioned why after sacrificing so much under zero-Covid and waiting for so long to reopen, the government ultimately let the virus rip through a population with little prior warning or preparation.
Nearly three years later, however, Xi is poised to cement his place as China’s most powerful leader in decades, when he is anointed with a likely norm-breaking third term as the party chief on Sunday.
Many are watching the upcoming Communist Party National Congress to see if restrictions could be loosened. Any change to the policy would need to come from the top, and from a leader who throughout his rule has sought to extend the control over daily life.
China has an advanced online platform that allows users to shop, dine and travel on their phones. Today, those technologies play a role in limiting daily life.
The system, which is separate from the health code scanning system still required in a reduced number of places in China, had used people’s cell phone data to track their travel history in the past 14 days in an attempt to identify those who have been to a city with zone designated “high-risk” by authorities.
Across the country, basic activities like going to the grocery store, riding public transport, or entering an office building depend on holding an up-to-date, negative Covid test and not being flagged as a close contact of a patient – data points reflected by a color code.
Going out in public can be a risk in itself, as being placed under quarantine or barricaded by authorities into a mall or office building as part of a snap lockdown could simply depend on whether someone in the general vicinity ends up testing positive.
Li, a resident of the city of Shanghai, spent a recent afternoon scrambling to prove that he didn’t need to go to a hospital after a tracking system pinned his wife to a location close to a positive case.
Li, who’d been with his wife at the time but received no such message, said they were eventually able to reach a hotline and explain their situation, ultimately returning her health code to green.
What will it take to stop? The real frustration of implementing the zero-Covid policy during the Chinese political protest in Beijing, and the challenges it engenders
“The essence of persisting with dynamic zero-Covid is putting people first and prioritizing life,” read a recent editorial in the People’s Daily – one of three along similar lines released by the party mouthpiece last week in an apparent bid to lower public expectation about any policy changes ahead of the Party Congress.
“What makes you think that you won’t be on that late-night bus one day?” read a viral comment, which garnered more than 250,000 likes before it was censored – one of a number of glimpses into rising frustration with the cost of the policy.
Last week, a rare political protest in Beijing saw banners hung from a bridge along the capital’s busy Third Ring Road that zoned in on social controls under the policy.
The Covid policy was endorsed by the president at the opening of the congress, who said it had ensured the lives of the people and their lives above all else. He scored a big political victory, securing a third term and stacking the party’s top ranks with staunch allies – including those who had loyally carried out his Covid policies.
The impact of those controls is becoming sharper, as lockdowns – which have repeatedly left people struggling for access to food and medicine and grappling with lost income and a mental toll – have become more frequent.
As the major political event got closer, local authorities around the country were trying to avoid any outbreaks like the ones that occurred in the days preceding the Party Congress.
The threat posed by Covid is reduced even though the vaccine coverage is higher. The point has already been reached where continuing zero-covid could be considered a cost-effective strategy, he said.
“One scenario is that (China) might drop the zero-Covid policy, but some of the key components of the policy might be retained and repurposed,” said Huang, pointing to Xi’s focus on maximizing security in China, including via high tech means.
James Trauer is an infectious-disease modeller at Monash University and says it is critical for China to achieve the highest vaccine coverage possible in the moment before a big epidemic takes off. There’s still a lot of uncertainty around projections about the epidemic’s toll and impact of measures to slow the spread.
To be sure, China has the state capacity to force the population to get vaccinated. After all, it has put entire cities with tens of millions of people into strict lockdowns.
“The vaccines take time, the ICU expansion takes time – and if you don’t see effort to prepare for the change, that implies that they are not planning to change the policy any time soon,” said Yanzhong Huang, a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.
Vaccines against Covid-19 and other zero-Covid epidemics in China: Observations from the Censored Communist Party
The health code system can be used to diffuse protest, with petitioners who lost their savings in rural banks barred from protesting after their health codes inexplicably turned red.
In the run-up to the Communist Party Congress in China last month, watercooler chatter centered on a single question: will the Congress abandon its zero- Covid policy?
A disease control official said at a news conference last week that the measures were related tooptimizing the existing prevention and control policy. “They are not an easing (of control), let alone reopening or ‘lying flat’,” he said.
On Thursday, the government reported a record 10,535 new domestically transmitted cases, and the authorities girded for more of the same.
The National Health Commission warned that the epidemic “is likely to further expand in scope and scale” due to mutations and weather factors in the winter and spring.
Matthew Bossons is an editor and journalist in China. He has lived in China since 2014. The views that he presents in this commentary are his own. View more opinion on CNN.
Students in many cities in China are back to remote learning. My daughter is off school for the second week in a row because of restrictions related to Covid-19. At this point, she has spent more time at home in 2022 than in the classroom.
Leaving an apartment to be safe: A simple plan that would save a lot of money and protect the public from public health risks, including HIV/AIDS
It’s nearly impossible to plan more than 20 minutes in advance of time because of limits on a moment’s notice. Ordinary people have the ability to go about their lives even if they are locked down in a mall or apartment, because this is bad for business.
Some friends, who have suffered through an unexpected lockdown or two, have even taken to carrying a backpack full of clothes, toiletries and work essentials with them at all times in case they get trapped at the local pub.
Offices, shops, and residential communities in Beijing report being understaffed or changing working arrangements due to employees falling ill with the virus. Others stay home to be safe.
SHANGHAI. Leaving my apartment involved a routine very similar to that of an aircraft pilot. There is a masked person checking. Anti-viral hand sanitizer: Check. Green code on my smartphone reflecting latest negative Covid test: Check. Courage to actually go outside and risk getting ensnared in an abrupt lockdown somewhere: Check.
You would presume that traveling from a city with a well-publicized disease outbreak would be enough to warrant immediate notice of self-isolation upon debarking the plane. Alas, not.
I had to be home for four days but my wife and daughter were allowed to leave the apartment at will and stroll around the city while I was gone. Let’s assume I was exposed to the disease, and my family were carriers, so why would a policy that was meant to safeguard people’s health allow for such a serious risk to public health?
End to Covid: A case study in China during the 20th century and the impact on the online rage machine and the people’s daily life
Demand for counseling services is up, and a nationwide survey conducted across China in 2020 found that nearly 35% of respondents were dealing with psychological distress amid the pandemic.
A woman identified as suffering from anxiety disorders jumped to her death from a locked-down building in the capital city of China.
Also this month, a 3-year-old boy died following a suspected gas leak at a locked-down residential compound in the western city of Lanzhou. A boy with Covid 19 testing status was denied access to emergency services by his father due to him not being alert enough to call an ambulance.
But even the strictest of measures did not stop Omicron’s spread. By October, China was reporting thousands of daily infections again. Amid mounting public frustration, the People’s Daily, the party’s main mouthpiece, insisted zero-Covid is “sustainable” and the country’s “best choice.”
Following the young boy’s death in Lanzhou, the internet rage machine was running at full capacity, with related hashtags on Weibo racking up hundreds of millions of views.
The protests erupted on a scale that hadn’t been seen before. Crowds gathered to call for the end to Covid tests and locked downs on campuses and in major cities as they demanded greater political freedom.
Huang said he does not expect any fundamental changes to the zero-Covid policy in the short term. “Because the local governments’ incentive structure has not been changed. They are still held accountable for the Covid situation in their jurisdiction,” he said.
CNN’s Meanwhile in China: The case of Zhou and his father, in the aftermath of a violent cybercrime against his father in Beijing
There is a version of this story in CNN’s Meanwhile in China newsletter, a three-time-a-week update on what you need to know about China’s rise. Go here to sign up.
After their home on the far outskirts of Beijing was locked down, Zhou saw his father alive in a video chat on the afternoon of November 1, hours after he last saw him.
The apartment building Zhou and his family lived in did not have any Covid cases at the time, so they did not even know that the restrictions had been imposed.
“The local government killed my dad,” Zhou told CNN in his Beijing home, breaking down in tears. He said he didn’t know why the ambulance took so long to arrive, because he only received a death certificate.
Zhou said he contacted several state media outlets in Beijing to report on his story, but no reporters came. Amid growing desperation and anger, he turned to foreign media – despite knowing the risk of repercussions from the government. CNN is only using his surname to mitigate that risk.
In the central city of Zhengzhou this week, workers at the world’s biggest iPhone assembly factory clashed with hazmat-suited security officers over a delay in bonus payment and chaotic Covid rules.
A protest against the Covid lockdown in Chongqing: “I would rather die!” says a protester in the city’s biggest district
The Covid lockdown on a residential compound was criticized by a resident in the city of Chongqing on Thursday. “Without freedom, I would rather die!” He shouted to a cheering crowd and was wrestled from the grasp of several police officers who were trying to take him away.
These acts of defiance echoed an outpouring of discontent online, notably from Chinese football fans – many under some form of lockdown or restrictions – who have only been able to watch from home as tens of thousands of raucous fans pack stadiums at the World Cup in Qatar.
Chinese officials are feeling the heat of the public discontent and the social and economic tolls that come with it.
Instead of relaxing controls, many local officials are reverting to the zero-tolerance playbook, attempting to stamp out infections as soon as they flare up.
The northern city of Shijiazhuang was among the first to cancel mass testing. It allows students to return to school after a long period of online classes. But as cases rose over the weekend, authorities reimposed a lockdown on Monday, telling residents to stay home.
On Tuesday, financial hub Shanghai banned anyone arriving in the city from entering venues including shopping malls, restaurants, supermarkets and gyms for five days. In the city, half of the cultural and entertainment venues were shut down.
The area of Guangzhou where the protest took place has been locked down for the fifth time.
In Beijing’s biggest district, the streets are mostly empty as authorities told people to stay home and businesses to close. Several school districts moved to online classes this week.
What the Chinese government had to say about the outbreak of the Zhou disease, or how to get back to normal life in the 21st century
For their part, Chinese officials have repeatedly denied that the 20 measures listed in the government guidelines were meant for a pivot to living with the virus.
The zero-covid policy is beneficial to the majority but at a local level it was too strict, according to Zhou.
He said that he did not want things like this to happen again in China or anywhere in the world. My father was dead when I lost him. My son lost his beloved grandfather. I am angry now.
Workers across China have dismantled some of the physical signs of the country’s zero-Covid controls, peeling health code scanning signs off metro station walls and closing some checkpoints after the government unveiled an overhaul of its pandemic policy.
While the changes were greeted with relief by many and sparked discussion online of freer travel within the country – and perhaps even international travel in the future – there was also a sense of uncertainty about what lay ahead.
“The world changed overnight, and that’s really amazing,” said Echo Ding, 30, a manager at a tech company in Beijing. “I feel like we are getting back to normal life. This is important to me because if I don’t get back to a normal life, I might lose my mind.”
“How can it change so fast?” “What do you think?” smiled Ding. It makes me feel like we are fools. It’s all up to them. They said it’s good, so then it’s good … that’s what I feel right now. It is so unreal, but I have no choice. All I can do is follow the arrangement.”
David Wang, 33, a freelancer in Shanghai, said although the changes were welcome, they had also sparked a feeling of disbelief in the city, which underwent a chaotic, more than two-month-long, citywide lockdown earlier this year.
He said that he was happy with the changes but that many of his pals were showing signs of post-traumatic stress disorder, which they couldn’t believe was happening.
The Covid outbreak: Beijing’s top health officials revisited the ban on the Omicron variant and its impact on public opinion and policy
Top health officials in Beijing said the changes to the rules were based on scientific evidence, including the spread of the milder Omicron variant, the vaccination rate and China’s experience in responding to the virus.
Last Wednesday, top health officials made a huge roll back of their mass testing, centralized quachica and health code tracking rules that had been put in place to control the spread of diseases. Some aspects of those measures, such as health code use in designated places and central quarantine of severe cases, as well as home isolation of cases, remain.
The state media used the dangers of the virus and its long-term effects as a justification to maintain restrictive policies.
State media have already begun trying to change everyone’s thinking by downplaying the lethality of the Omicron variant. At the same time, a huge drive to vaccinate the elderly is underway.
But it didn’t take long for Omicron to seep through the cracks of zero-Covid. By mid-March, China was battling its worst Covid outbreak since the initial wave of the pandemic, reporting thousands of new cases a day, from northern Jilin province to Guangdong in the south.
“People were not told what kind of medicine they should have and what they should do if infected until there was widespread infection. In fact, we should have started doing this a long, long time ago,” said Sam Wang, 26, a lawyer in Beijing, who added that the policy release felt “sudden and arbitrary.”
Bob Li, a graduate student in Beijing, who tested positive for the virus on Friday said he wasn’t afraid of the virus, but his mother, who lives in the countryside, stayed up all night worrying about him. She finds the virus terrifying, according to Li.
Wang said his mother was buying high grade N95 masks and preparing for a “Nuclear winter” until a potential wave of cases passed.
The Chinese government will have to deal with the implementation of the zero-COVID-19 test. The reopening of Beijing, Australia, October 30 to March 30
As local authorities adjust, they have to contend with a contradiction in how the guidelines are implemented.
In Beijing, a health code showing a negative Covid-19 test would still be required in conflict with national guidelines for dining at restaurants and entertainment venues.
Then, in the space of just a few days, this world of restrictions was quite literally dismantled. The testing sites that had been controlling our movements were all closed on November 30. After that, businesses outside of high-risk areas would be allowed to reopen. The Covid-19 test is no longer needed to enter them.
The government has not stated the goal of its new policy which could cause confusion. “These measures will very likely lead to a messy and hasty transition process where local governments ditch all the zero-COVID measures without investing seriously in preparing for the transition,” says Huang, who would have liked to have seen the reopening happen in phases.
Some parts of the new rules, like when and where to test people during an epidemic, are open to interpretation by local governments.
Many people in China live in densely populated high-rise buildings, where it will be difficult to limit transmission. Allowing people to quarantine at home will contribute to viral spread, says George Liu, a public-health researcher at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia. This could overwhelm hospitals.
The timing of the reopening is not ideal, say researchers. The number of patients in hospitals will go up during winter because of the flu. The number of people travelling to and fro across the country will also increase, which is a good thing, says a Yale University economist who studies China.
The amount of patients going to the clinics on Sunday was sixteen times greater than a week prior. Minor illness is common in the hospital in China, where there is no strong primary care system.
The sociologist at the University of Kent in the UK says that the eased restrictions might not be enough to get businesses to come back from lengthy lockdowns or eliminate the social stigma attached to COVID-19. I fear that the health risk will be passed on to individuals.
Urgent guidance is needed on how to curb transmission during a surge, such as through mask mandates, work-from-home policies and temporary school closures, says Cowling. The reduction in testing makes it hard to know if a city has passed the peak of an infection wave.
The longevity of protection against severe disease in Brazil varies according to age: a study of the case of Tan HUa and Pfizer’s vaccine
There is uncertainty around the longevity of protection against severe disease. In a study of more than three million people in Brazil, it was discovered that the protection against disease waned quicker for CoronaVac than for Pfizer’s vaccine. But that study didn’t separate the data by age, and other studies have shown that protection, across the board, declines more quickly for older people. Older adults and those with weak immune systems are recommended to have a fourth or second booster shot, according to a report by the Global Times.
With fourth-dose vaccination coverage of 85% and antiviral coverage of 60%, the death toll can be reduced by 26% to 35%, according to the study, which is funded partly by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Hong Kong government.
“I have an advantage in that I don’t go to an office to work. She has no job at a company or a government agency, and she doesn’t meet a lot of people. I also think I keep myself well protected.
Despite a push to boost vaccinations among the elderly, two centers set up in Beijing to administer shots were empty Tuesday except for medical personnel. Despite fears of a major outbreak, there was little evidence of a surge in patient numbers.
For many, it has its roots in product quality issues that have for years plagued manufacturing in China — including its production of pharmaceuticals. It relates to the case of Tan HUa’s.
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In 2014, Tan, then 34 years old, was bitten by a dog. She saw a doctor and was given a shot of what her mother, Hua Xiuzhen, says they were told was the best rabies vaccine on the market. But it didn’t go as planned.
She got headaches and dizziness that night. Her memory dropped off a lot. She had trouble breathing. She couldn’t see; everything was dark for her. She couldn’t walk straight.
They blame the vaccine, and Hua has been on a crusade for justice ever since. She avoids all vaccines, including those for COVID-19 which China has approved.
But lax oversight and corruption during recent decades of breakneck economic growth has led to a string of product quality scandals in China — from baby formula cut with industrial chemicals to contaminated blood thinner and tainted vaccines.
Providing a more complete picture of the outbreak – and the death toll – may not suit the government’s interests of reassuring the public about their handling of the virus, according to Yanzhong Huang, a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.
Nevertheless, the initial concerns about the safety, especially for elders, has continued. “Physicians in China aren’t sure if the vaccines are safe for the elders,” Bouey says. “So there’s altogether some distrust and confusion about these vaccines – which the government has pushed so heavily. I read quite a lot of misinformation about the vaccine’s side effects on Chinese social media.”
Vaccination can save lives, but not vaccines, says a real estate executive in Asia whose case for vaccines fails to get a vaccine
Jerry, a real estate executive in Asia, is 33 years old. He did not want his full name used because of the sensitivity of the topic.
It’s nothing too serious these days; it’s kind of a flu thing. He hasn’t gotten the vaccine and he believes – despite science to the contrary – there’s no point.
“I just think the virus is changing so fast. Not a single vaccine can save lives, as he says, focusing on how vaccines can prevent transmission rather than saving lives.
Jerry believes the vaccine rate for his friends may be as low as 60 percent. He says couples trying to get pregnant are particularly fearful of possible side-effects.
Only half of people in Hong Kong were protected from the omicron variant when it hit in the spring. Hospitals were quickly swamped and the rate of deaths-per-100,000 people spiked to the highest in the world. Most of those who died were over the age of 60.
The incentives for people to get a vaccine should be boosted and the government should offer assurances of support in case something goes wrong, according to Huang, who is a professor at Seton Hall.
COVID-19 epidemic in China: State media interviews with Beijing emergency services and local authorities during the week leading up to a deactivation of the mobile itinerary card
Changes continued Monday as authorities announced a deactivation of the “mobile itinerary card” health tracking function planned for the following day.
It had been a point of contention for many Chinese people, including due to concerns around data collection and its use by local governments to ban entry to those who have visited a city with a “high-risk zone,” even if they did not go to those areas within that city.
The government narrowed the criteria for counting Covid deaths and stopped reporting the majority of infections, despite warnings that it would underestimate the true death toll.
Media outlet China Youth Daily documented hours-long lines at a clinic in central Beijing on Friday, and cited unnamed experts calling for residents not to visit hospitals unless necessary.
The hospital official appealed to Covid-positive residents not to call the city’s emergency services line when they have mild or no symptoms, after a surge in emergency calls in the capital.
The number of emergency calls has increased in recent days from 5,000 to more than 30,000 according to the Beijing Emergency Center’s chief physician.
In an interview with state media Saturday, a top Covid-19 expert said Covid was spread rapidly by highly transmissible Omicron variants in China.
“No matter how strong the prevention and control is, it will be difficult to completely cut off the transmission chain,” Zhong, who has been a key public voice since the earliest days of the pandemic in 2020, was quoted saying by Xinhua.
The rapid rollback of testing nationwide and the shift by many people to use antigen tests at home has also made it difficult to gauge the extent of the spread, with official data now appearing meaningless.
China may not be ready for the expected surge of cases after the unexpected move to lift its measures in the wake of protests against the policy.
Zhong, in the state media interview, said the government’s top priority now should be booster shots, particularly for the elderly and others most at risk, especially with China’s Lunar New Year coming up next month – a peak travel time where urban residents visit elderly relatives and return to rural hometowns.
Facing a surge in COVID-19 cases, China is setting up more intensive care facilities and trying to strengthen hospitals’ ability to deal with severe cases.
Meanwhile, experts have warned a lack of experience with the virus – and years of state media coverage focusing on its dangers and impact overseas, before a recent shift in tone – could push those who are not in critical need to seek medical care, further overwhelming systems.
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A shortage of some drugs was reported by China last Friday and a major onlineretailer said last week it was taking steps to ensure stable supplies.
A hashtag trending on China’s heavily moderated social media platform Weibo over the weekend featured a state media interview with a Beijing doctor saying people who tested positive for Covid-19 but had no or mild symptoms did not need to take medication to recover.
People with no symptoms need no medication at all. Li Tongzeng, the chief infectious disease physician at Beijing You An Hospital, told a reporter in an interview on Friday that it is enough to rest at home and have a good mood.
Last month in Beijing and several other cities, protests over the restrictions grew into calls for leader Xi Jinping and the ruling Communist Party step down, in a level of public political expression not seen in decades.
While met with relief, the relaxation has also sparked concerns about a new wave of infections potentially overwhelming health care resources in some areas.
At the same time, the government reversed course by allowing those with mild symptoms to recuperate at home rather than being sent to field hospitals that have become notorious for overcrowding and poor hygiene.
Reports on the Chinese internet, which is tightly controlled by the government, sought to reassure a nervous public, stating that restrictions would continue to be dropped and travel, indoor dining and other economic activity would soon be returning to pre-pandemic conditions.
The economy fell by 2.6% in the second quarter of the year, prompting the government to promise to reduce cost and disruption. The economy is predicted to shrink in the current quarter. In November, imports fell 18.9% from a year ago in a sign of weak demand.
Experts warn there is a chance that the ruling party will reverse course if there is a large-scale outbreak.
Last week’s announcement allowed considerable room for local governments to assign their own regulations. Most restaurants in Beijing, for example, still require a negative test result obtained over the previous 48 hours and rules are even stricter for government offices.
When the knock happened: What happened when the door to my apartment was knocked out by a neighbor had tested positive for Covid-19
Editor’s Note: Lars Hamer is the Editor-in-Chief of the China lifestyle magazine, That’s. He has been living in Guangzhou, China. The views expressed in this commentary are his own. Follow him on Twitter @LarsHamer1. Read more opinion on CNN.
Every resident here dreads the knock. Early Tuesday morning, a sudden loud banging at the door of my apartment in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou. Instantly, fear washed over me; health care workers in hazmat suits were ordering everyone to go downstairs because a neighbor had tested positive for Covid-19.
I had good reason to worry. Just one month ago, a teacher friend of mine and his colleagues were sent to centralized quarantine after one student at his school tested positive for Covid-19. I was concerned that the same thing would happen to me.
To my surprise, nothing of the sort. I didn’t impress on the Covid-19 test. I was completely free to leave my house before my results came out.
If this had occurred just weeks before, I would have, like my friend, been labeled a “close contact” and therefore would have been powerless to avoid the quarantine facility’s vice-like grip.
Over the next few days, the Guangzhou I came to in 2018 was almost back to normal. The streets were lined with people. Friends and families who had not seen each other for months gathered in bars and restaurants, and QR codes were being ripped down from walls; our movements no longer tracked.
Just look at the new measure forbidding the blocking of fire exits in the event of a lockdown, for example. People who are infectious can get along with each other at home. Quarantine facilities will soon be history.
Friends and families who had not seen each other for months gathered in bars and restaurants, and QR codes were being ripped down from walls; our movements no longer tracked.
Most days, I worked until late at night because it’s the only thing to do, non-essential businesses were closed, and millions of people were confined to their homes. I too began to feel the strain and started considering leaving the country.
It was a moment of pure disbelief. In April, there were similar numbers of cases in Guangzhou and it led to a city-wide lock-down.
China’s National Health Commission has adjusted its daily report after a decline in testing since the government relaxed anti-viral measures.
A notice on the commission’s website said it stopped publishing daily figures on numbers of COVID-19 cases where no symptoms are detected since it was “impossible to accurately grasp the actual number of asymptomatic infected persons,” which have generally accounted for the vast majority of new infections. The only numbers they’re reporting are confirmed cases detected in public testing facilities.
The number of clinics in Beijing has been increased from 94 to 303, and there are lines forming outside of the stores where cold and flu drugs are harder to find.
A dozen people were waiting for test results at a Beijing hospital. The nurses checked the patients one patient at a time.
A group of people were waiting in line of blue tents at the hospital. A person in the queue sprayed an insecticidal solution on a woman they were waiting around with.
The people were waiting in line at the pharmacy for cough medication and Chinese remedies. A sign at the front told waiting customers: “Avoid panic and hoarding, we are doing all we can to stock up to fulfill your medicinal needs.” A man who was walking out purchased two packages of Lianhua Qingwen, a Chinese herbal remedy, telling all his customers that they wouldn’t be able to purchase any more than that.
The Impact of COVID-19 in the Chinese City of Shenyang and Wuhan on the Lunar New Year Travel, Work, and Public Health
The Chinese government came out to explain that it had changed the method of counting deaths caused by the virus, and that it was still accurate in its tally.
The State Department said that the U.S. consulates in the northeastern Chinese city of Shenyang and the central city of Wuhan are only offering emergency services due to an increased number of COVID-19 cases.
Hospitals have been struggling to retain staff because of a shortage of motorized tricycle delivery drivers, while packages were piling up at distribution points.
Some Chinese universities say they will allow students to finish the semester from home in hopes of reducing the potential for a bigger COVID-19 outbreak during the January Lunar New Year travel rush.
The move followed the government’s announcement last week that it was ending many of the strictest measures it had in place over the past three years.
There was a visible impact of the outbreak in Sanlitun on Tuesday. There, the usually bustling shops and restaurants were without customers and, in some cases, functioning on skeleton crews or offering takeout only.
One community worker told CNN that 21 of the 24 workers on her Beijing neighborhood committee office, tasked with coordinating residential matters and activities, had fallen ill in recent days.
“As our superiors are mostly infected, there’s not much work being given to us,” said the employee, Sylvia Sun. The usual events will not be held.
“It is impossible to accurately grasp the actual number of asymptomatic infections,” the NHC said in a notice, citing reduced levels of official testing.
A Beijing- based lawyer and former American Chamber of Commerce in China chairman said that almost all of the people in his office have Covid.
A health official said the number of patients in the city’s major hospitals with flu symptoms was six times greater than the previous week.
Sun said that of the 50 severe and critical cases in hospitals, most of them were patients with underlying health conditions.
“At present, the number of newly infected people in Beijing is increasing rapidly, but most of them are asymptomatic and mild cases,” said Sun, who also called for more fever clinics to be set up and made assurances that supply of medicines – which have been hit by a surge in purchases in recent days – was being increased.
Prominent Shanghai physician Zhang Wenhong warned that hospitals should do everything they could to ensure that health workers were not getting infected as quickly as the people in the communities they serve. Such a situation could result in a shortage of medical staff and infections among patients, he said, according to local media reports.
Social media users questioned why the reporter, who showed her two-bed room and access to fever medicine in a video interview posted by her employer Beijing Radio and Television Station on Sunday, received such treatment while others were struggling.
“Awesome! A sarcastic comment stated that a young reporter got a space in a temporary hospital and took liquid Ibuprofen for children that were hard to find in Beijing.
Vaccination and death prevention in western countries: Improving civil registration and vital statistics systems to better prepare for future COVID-19 pandemics
Tea made from orange peel and monk fruit could help to prevent infections, as suggested by a local government in southwest China. Dr. Zhong said weeks ago that he hasn’t found any medication that is effective at preventing a COVID infection.
However, the authors’ estimates must be interpreted with extreme caution. This is due to the fact that only a small percentage of countries have complete data on the number of people who died from any cause in a single month. There were no data for 44 percent of the countries and there was only annual data for 5 percent. Data availability is correlated with one’s income. African countries had no data for 2020, but 2% of European countries did.
Msemburi did not adjust for these factors because they wanted to identify any changes in mortality during the swine flu epidemic. If the goal is to understand COVID-19 fatality better, adjusting estimates for these numbers is essential. There are models that can adjust for mortality caused by the flu, and there are new approaches that have been proposed for use. The cumulative number of excess deaths over the month of the observation period are excluded from the computations for displaced mortality. (The adjustment is only partial because COVID-19 deaths that occur during periods of overall deficit remain uncounted.)
Improving the processes used to record births and deaths, known as civil registration and vital statistics (CRVS) systems, is crucial to improving public health. The WHO is preparing a treaty to strengthen global preparedness for and resilience to future pandemics; creating better CRVS systems is not yet part of that, but it should be. More support should go to ventures that give nations information on how to improve their systems — at present, a hodgepodge of advisory groups are supported by the WHO and by Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Gates Foundation.
Chinese health systems are facing an infection surge this winter, according to a research paper by Wu Zunyou, the chief epidemiologist at the Chinese CDC
According to projections done by three professors at the University of Hong Kong, a nationwide reopening could result in up to 663 deaths per million people.
The surge of infections would “likely overload many local health systems across the country,” said the research paper, released last week on the Medrxiv preprint server and which has yet to undergo peer review.
Lifting restrictions in all the provinces would lead to more demand for hospital beds and more demand for surge hospital capacity, according to the study.
Chinese social media posts show a surge in demand at Beijing’s funeral homes over the last few weeks, but they were the first deaths officially reported since December 7.
Crematoriums and funeral homes in Beijing say they are already overwhelmed, despite the lack of officially reported COVID deaths. The waiting time for cremations at the largest crematorium in Beijing was 10 days, and staff told NPR that families filled the intake lot earlier this week.
Other major cities are also facing a surge in infections. Most schools in the financial district of Shanghai are moving most classes online. The authorities in the southern metropolis of Guangzhou have told students to not prepare for school when they already take online classes.
In a city that was in the middle of a mass lock down, authorities announced on Sunday that public sector workers who test positive can go to work as usual.
The experts warn that the worst is yet to come. Wu Zunyou, the chief epidemiologist at the Chinese CDC, said the country is being hit by the first of three expected waves of infections this winter.
The current wave would last until mid-January according to Wu, speaking at a conference in Beijing. The second wave is expected to last from late January to mid-February next year, triggered by the mass travel ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday, which falls on January 21.
Every year, hundreds of millions of people who have left their hometowns to build a life in China’s fast growing cities pour into trains, buses and planes to see their family – a weeks-long travel rush known as the largest annual human migration on Earth.
China’s public health system is flattening the curve, but nobody wants to change: a Yale University economist and a representative of the expert commission
According to Xi Chen, an economics professor at Yale University who studies China’s public-health system, flattening the curve is never too late.
The two studies broadly agree on mortality estimates and the impact of interventions, says Cameron. “This similarity in large part reflects an agreement that herd immunity will only be achieved after a large, and difficult to contain, spread of transmission throughout the entire country.”
Zhong also said that 78% of patients infected with the Omnicron variant won’t be reinfected for quite a long time. Studies suggest protection against reinfection declines dramatically over time and most people will be reinfected every one to two years.
The Chinese internet was not entertained by the about-face. Posts juxtaposING experts’ TV appearances before and after state policy change have received more than 100,000 views.
Most public health and medical experts never change their views. The director of a hospital with Fudan University said that the zero-COVES policy should be relaxed even if it means that the city was shut down for weeks. The position attracted some online attacks but is being praised for speaking truth to power.
The member of the expert commission known for insistence that Shanghai could not shut down is getting apologies online.
Online Conversation about COVID: How Chinese Diaspora Helps to Inform the Public About the Disease and the Importance of Social Media Exposure
The online conversation has moved to how to deal with the aftermath of a policy change, including what preventative measures and treatment are available.
The tried and tested remedies to fight Covid have proven to be very effective. The method of rinsing out your mouth using iced salt water is not new, but an internal medicine doctor who is a member of the prestigious Academy of Engineering in China recommended it. Commenters online were baffled. “Wasn’t salt water rinse debunked two years ago? Does an iced version make a difference?
The chaos and uncertainty right now reminds Chen Wenhong, an associate professor of media studies and sociology at University of Texas, of the atmosphere in early 2020 when COVID was first spreading. It’s flying in the dark.
Additionally, non-state media outlets are vulnerable to government crackdowns. An online health information outlet that debunks health myths and criticized the government’s promotions of traditional Chinese medicine was suspended from popular social media platforms in August. Its accounts on the popular Chinese social media site, Weibo, remain silent today.
A recent example was how the Communist Party-controlled newspaper, The Global Times, cited a misleading report in the British tabloid, Daily Mail, that suggested without evidence that vaccine maker Moderna manufactured the virus. The Global Times extensively cited the coverage, using it to attack other unsupported theories about the virus’s origin, including the one that suggested it leaked from a government research lab in Wuhan. The report was made into a video by other smaller social media accounts.
“The Chinese diaspora has played a very useful role here to share with people back in China about their personal COVID experience,” Chen says, “knowing that in most cases it will not be that serious.”
She pointed out that while researchers and journalists pay attention to social media discourse, many rural residents rely on television and relatives in larger cities to stay informed. Many people who are vulnerable to the disease live in areas with little or no healthcare resources and are not very good at finding information on social media.
As NPR reported, public health authorities don’t base their messages for the public entirely on science – many considerations are also pragmatic and culturally-based.
A couple of years from now, the scientists will have some soul searching to do. “If we know that politics is going to play a role in public health and also in science, how do we conduct ourselves? What do we think about our ethics?
Researchers from universities and health institutions in Shanghai modeled the curves of daily new Covid-19 cases and accumulated total cases from the beginning of October to November 29, before the country began easing its nucleic testing requirements.
The 15th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biodiversity (CBS2015): Science and Politics for the 21st Century
Ten rocks will be dropped by the Perseverance rover and will be sent back to Earth. The best chance of preserving past life on Mars is from a river Delta which was 11,000 years ago. The cache is only a back-up — Perseverance will keep duplicate samples on board, so the retrieval mission can collect them directly from the rover in about ten years.
A final agreement was reached at the 15th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biodiversity, which will see more than 30% of Earths land and sea protected by the year 2030.
Nevertheless, the feeling among scientists is optimistic. They welcome a historic agreement, which at times felt nigh-on impossible to achieve. It has created, for the first time, biodiversity targets on par with the momentous 2015 Paris climate agreement, which set a crucial goal to to limit global warming to 1.5–2 °C above pre-industrial levels.
China, which holds the presidency at this conference because it was originally scheduled to take place in Kunming in 2020, proved to be a forceful co-host at the event in Canada. The presidency pushed the agreement through despite a protest from the Democratic Republic of the Congo about the responsibility of rich nations. The statement that theDRC made was not judged to be a formal objection. “Legally, it’s done. Morally, what can I say? It’s over,” said Lee White, Gabon’s environment minister.
The dispute highlights the gulf between good intentions and the hard work yet to come, says Natasha Gilbert, who is reporting at the conference for Nature. “Will this undermine the integrity of the framework?” she asks. “It’s all very well pushing a document through, but what really matters is how it is implemented.”
There has been turmoil in the energy markets due to the invasion of Ukraine by Russia. Will the energy crisis affect the climate? These are some of the questions researchers must help to answer in 2023, say Andreas Goldthau and Simone Tagliapietra. They lay out five areas in which scientists can make a difference, including assessing routes to decarbonization in the face of the sky-high energy prices, informing heavy industries’ business models, and shedding light on how energy poverty and inflation threaten political stability.
An environmental scientist’s warning on the risks of COVID-19 infection rates: revealing the identities of the ants in a tide-land survey
Conference organizers should start doing post-event COVID-19 surveys and disclose infection rates to attendees, argues environmental scientist James Kirchner. He ran an anonymous online survey of attendees after the conference. More than 80% responded, and 28% of them had COVID-19. “We had no idea that the risks were so high,” he writes. “The organizers could have made changes to better protect attendees, if they had known they had a problem in the first place. And they could have been aware of this issue simply by surveying recent attendees, as I did.” Event organizers say that they follow COVID-19 guidelines and that data-protection concerns hamper surveys.
Scientists believed that the ants were useless sacks. The juveniles produce ‘milk’, a nutritious fluid that the adult ants drink and feed to the larvae. Without it, they remain stunted and die sooner, explains social-evolution and behaviour researcher Orli Snir. She thinks this discovery will help people to see ant colonies as interdependent networks rather than being led by only the adults.
Eileen was protecting tidelands with giant, holey concrete spheres. Her team sank some reef balls in the San Diego Bay. The spheres contain sand and oyster shells, which encourages living oysters to settle on them. It creates an artificial reef that protects the shoreline and combats climate change by sequestering carbon dioxide. 3 min read.
When China abandoned zero-Covid, it became clear to villagers in the dark: COVID-19 statistics and the need for crematoriums
The head of infectious disease at No. 1 hospital said that deaths in patients with pre-existing illnesses are not counted as COVID-19 deaths.
An AP investigation showed that the numbers were clouded by the way health authorities put together COVID-19 statistics and how it was described by the city they were in.
Cases have skyrocketed since China abandoned zero-Covid , with empty streets and packed hospital wards. When CNN visited a Beijing crematorium last week, cars lined up to enter, filled with grieving family members who had been waiting more than a day to cremate loved ones who died of Covid.
“I really don’t think the village doctors, or even the township or county hospital, can handle the increased number of severe cases,” says Huan Wang, a researcher at the Stanford Center on China’s Economy and Institutions. I think the rural villagers were left alone in the dark by their landlords.
As the lunar New Year approaches, health officials are worried the celebrations will turn into a superspreader event and will catch rural systems off guard in a country where there is little vaccine hesitancy.
The World Health Organization warned last week that China may be behind the curve when it comes to reporting data. Michael Ryan, WHO Health Emergencies Program Executive Director said, “In China, what’s been reported is relatively low numbers of cases in ICUs, but anecdotally ICUs are filling up.” According to a British health data firm, China’s true COVID figures are a million infections and 5,000 deaths a day. On Friday, a health official in Qingdao, in China’s eastern Shandong province, said the city was seeing around 500,000 new COVID cases a day. The report was shared by many news outlets and it appeared that the figures had been edited out. There has also reportedly been surge in need for crematoriums. China had earlier this month scrapped many of its very restrictive COVID measures following protests around the country that were critical of leadership. The demonstrations started after 10 people died in a fire at an apartment block in the city of Urumqi. Some said the deaths could have been prevented if restrictions were less strict. The Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation of the University of Washington has forecast 1 million deaths if China does not maintain social distancing policies. Many are concerned that celebrations during next month’s Lunar New Year in China could become superspreader events.
In its latest briefing, IHME forecasts up to 1 million deaths in 2023 if China does not maintain social distancing policies — a prediction echoed by another model released by researchers at University of Hong Kong last week.
Sun Caiyun, an ebullened restaurant owner in Beijing, says she plans to return to her hometown in the north of the country if there is a chance of another outbreak of the deadly H1N1 flu. I am going to come back home because Beijing has banned fireworks.
However, the strain China’s on countryside is already evident as medicine shortages hit rural pharmacies. Rural residents in China have been posting pictures of pharmacy shelves empty of medication, asking for donations on social media. Some of the medication has been diverted to cities, which were initially hardest-hit by the surge and where supplies first ran out.
The Center for Disease Control’s office in China was founded by Ray Yip in 2003 and he said that the number of deaths they show is almost bordering on ridiculous.
The hospitals that NPR visited in Beijing were busy and orderly despite the fact that a small number of elderly patients had to be put down due to lack of beds.
The health care system hasPukiWikiPukiWikiPukiWikis because many migrant workers have only rural health insurance that cannot be used in urban hospitals.
“You just have to suck it for a few days,” says Zhang Xiaohu, a delivery worker who contracted COVID in early December. He says he worked through his symptoms, because he doesn’t have enough money to pay for a hospital in Beijing. “Being a delivery guy means you have to be the kind of person who dares to risk their lives.”
One man waiting in line said his grandfather started running a fever last week and tested positive for COVID, but they spent days looking for a hospital that could take him.
How the NHC came up with the estimates cited by Bloomberg and the Financial Times is unclear, as China is no longer officially tallying its total number of infections, after authorities shut down their nationwide network of PCR testing booths and said they would stop gathering data on asymptomatic cases.
The NHC did not immediately respond to a request for comment, despite a copy of what was purportedly the NHC meeting notes circulating on Chinese social media and seen by CNN.
The Financial Times said it was Sun Yang – a deputy director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention – who presented the figures to officials during the closed-door briefing, citing two people familiar with the matter.
Beijing will begin distributing Paxlovid-19 to community health centers in the next few days after the NHC reported only 62,592 cases
The NHC reported only 62,592 cases of Covid in the first twenty days of December.
The minutes of the Wednesday closed-door NHC meeting made no reference to discussions concerning how many people may have died in China, according to both reports and the document CNN viewed.
Despite the surge in cases, China has suspended most public testing booths, meaning there is no accurate public measure of the scale of infections across the country.
Beijing will begin distributing Paxlovid, a drug made by Pfizer, to the city’s community health centers over the course of the next few days.
The state-run China News Service reported Monday that community doctors will give instructions on how to use Covid-19 patients after receiving training.
“We have received the notice from officials, but it is not clear when the drugs will arrive,” it cited a worker at a local community health center in Beijing’s Xicheng district as saying.
Four doctors in Beijing did not have time to eat or drink, according to an emergency room doctor. He said they have been seeing patients nonstop.
Another emergency room doctor told the newspaper he had been working despite having developed fever symptoms. “The number of patients is high, and with fewer medical staff, the pressure is multiplied,” said the doctor.
In a sign of the strain on Beijing’s medical system, hundreds of health professionals from across China have traveled to the city to assist medical centers.
China’s partial reopening has been met with an outpouring of joy and relief from citizens — both the hundreds of millions isolated inside the country for the past three years and those overseas separated from their loved ones.
The border is mostly closed to foreigners apart from a few limited business or family visits, according to the government.
A 34-Year-Old New Yorker During the Korean Pandemic and How to Reconcile with a Family
A Chinese national who has been in New York for four years said that “Finally, everybody can live their normal life.” She said the separation was painful, and that several of her family members and her beloved pet dog had died during that time.
Her family “missed (my graduation). She said that they missed many things. “And I also missed so many things for my family. People got married during the Pandemic. Some of them had babies. I feel like I missed everything, I missed the most important points in their lives.”
May Ma, 28, has been unable to go home for nearly three years while living in South Korea. The worst thing about the quarantine requirements had been worrying about her grandparents’ health, and not knowing if she’d be able to return in time to say goodbye if anything were to happen, she said.
Throughout the pandemic, “the scariest thing was … not knowing where the end is, not knowing when I can go back,” she said. “I definitely feel very happy, I can finally see the end.”
China’s Border Quartine Travel Raax in Intl: The Three-Year Growth in Search Volume since Trip.com’s Lunar New Year Holiday
China’s people are anticipating and celebrating outbound travel. Most have not left the country for several years and are now flooding booking sites to plan long-awaited vacations.
Online searches for outbound flights and overseas hotels jumped to a three-year peak on Trip.com, a Chinese travel booking website, according to company data. Within half an hour of the announcement, search queries for popular destinations doubled and people were searching for group tours for the Lunar New Year holiday.
Macao, Hong Kong, Japan, Thailand, South Korea, the United States and the United Kingdom were among the top destinations that saw the fastest growth in search volume since the announcement.
A Chinese national in New York said that he feels like it’s a mess. Everybody is sick. It’s not the best time to visit my family, at least right now. Maybe two or three months later.
Some overseas destinations are in a state of alert. Officials in Italy’s northern Lombardy region have asked Milan’s Malpensa airport — one of the country’s largest international airports — to conduct PCR tests for all arrivals from China from now until the end of January.
China in the midst of zero-Covid during the 1922 winter Olympics: What had Beijing and the United States learned from the October 11 eruption of Urumqi
Ma said if he could get back in time for Spring Festival, it didn’t matter. “There is hope after all, I can bear waiting for a little while longer.”
2022 was supposed to be a triumphant year for China and its leader Xi Jinping, as he began his second decade in power with a pledge to restore the nation to greatness.
In its tightly sealed, meticulously managed Olympic bubble, the ubiquitous face masks, endless spraying of disinfectant and rigorous daily testing paid-off. Any infected visitors arriving in the country were swiftly identified and their cases contained, allowing the Winter Olympics to run largely free of Covid even as the Omicron variant raged around the world.
As he prepared for his third term in power, China’s president repeatedly made the point that his party’s political system is superior to those of western democracies in handling the flu.
Beijing was trapped in a trap by being so close to zero- Covid. He had to make sure that he got his norm-breaking third term at the congress because of the risk of a surge of infections and deaths.
And so instead of vaccinating the elderly and bolstering ICU capacity, authorities wasted the next crucial months building larger quarantine facilities, rolling out more frequent mass testing, and imposing wider lockdowns that at one point affected more than 300 million people.
In the months leading up to the November apartment fire in Urumqi, public anger had been simmering but it finally boiled over. Even though the official denial was that the measures had hampered rescue efforts, many believed it to be true.
The nationwide demonstrations posed an unprecedented challenge to Xi. It seemed like Omicron had spun out of control, with the country recording over 40,000 infections a day and the economic strain becoming too severe.
While the easing of stifling restrictions is a long-awaited relief for many, the abruptness and haphazardness of it has caught an unprepared public off guard and left them to fend for themselves.
Over-the-counter cold and fever medicines – which had been restricted from purchase under zero-Covid – sold out instantly at pharmacies and on online shopping sites. Huge lines have formed outside fever clinics and hospital emergency rooms overflow with patients, many elderly. Crematoriums are struggling to keep up with an influx of bodies.
The scale of the outbreak and deaths would affect the credibility of a government that has justified years of restrictions on peoples’ movements because they were necessary to save lives.
There’s also concern that widespread COVID in China could lead to new variants, but variants can emerge anywhere in the world right now as COVID continues to circulate.
The Chinese vaccines offered just as much protection against disease as the mRNA vaccines for adults under 60 were found to be.
For older adults, the Pfizer vaccine proved significantly more effective after only two doses. The vaccine Pfizer offered was more than 85% protection and the one from CoronaVac offered less than 75%. But, Cowling points out, an extra booster – or third dose – of CoronaVac lifts the protection to about 98%, the same protection observed with three doses of Pfizer.
Cowling thinks that the misinformation may be related to early data regarding the effectiveness of vaccines against infections.
But with the emergence of the immune-evading variants, such as delta and omicron, eventually all vaccines wound up being basically ineffective against infection, especially more than three to four months after the inoculation.
In the past year, both CoronaVac and Sinopharm have been tested in more than 12 international studies including one in Turkey with 12,000 people, one in Brazil with 3 million and one in Chile with 10 million vaccinations. The University of So Paulo oversaw the immunization of about 12,000 people in a study looking at the safety of CoronaVac. They documented “67 serious adverse events … and all were determined to be unrelated to vaccination,” the team reported. The data available to date indicates that Sinovac-CoronaVac is generally well tolerated and consistent with the safety profiles of other licensed inactivated vaccines, the WHO wrote in May 2021.
The Impact of China’s Covid Spread on Health and Disease Prevention: A Perspective from a World Wide View of Omicron Diseases and Influenza
The spread could be “dramatically enhanced” by travels expected during the upcoming Spring Festival, a national holiday period surrounding the Lunar New Year, which falls on January 22, the study said.
“It is reasonable to speculate that the Omicron outbreak in Chinese mainland might appear in multiple waves, with re-appearance of new local surges possibly in late 2023,” the study said.
The study recommends emergency measures be taken to deliver medicine to patients who are low risk and under 60 years old. It also recommended to timely treat high risk populations that are vaccinated and older than 60 years with anti-viral drugs.
The World Health Organization criticized China and its definition of a death from Covid as well as accusing them of under-representing the severity of the outbreak.
The WHO director-general has asked China for more rapid, regular, reliable data on hospitalizations and deaths.
The European Union encouraged its member states to introduce a test for travelers from China who want to join the bloc.
The WHO’s Tedros said Wednesday it was “understandable” that some countries were taking these steps, “with circulation in China so high and comprehensive data not forthcoming.”
China is not sharing enough of its Sequences, is another concern according to Sinthacker. At a 3 January meeting of the WHO’s Technical Advisory Group on Virus Evolution, scientists from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention presented data based on more than 2,000 genomes collected and sequenced since 1 December 2022. But only around one-quarter of that number — 564 sequences — has been uploaded to GISAID’s database over the same period.
“We need more information on sequencing around the country, (and for) those sequences to be shared with publicly available databases like GISAID so that deeper analyses can be done,” she said. The global initiative provides access to the data of different influenza viruses.
A representative sample from the entire community of viruses is what most nations do, says Vitali Sintchev, a microbiologist at the University of Sydney in Australia. The study concluded that it would be better for countries to sequence.05% of COVID-19 cases and give them the data within 21 days. They would have a 34% chance of finding a new lineage before they get 100 people.
But the testing landscape has changed drastically over the past year, says evolutionary virologist Verity Hill at the Yale School of Public Health in New Haven, Connecticut. Broad-scale population-based screening was feasible in countries such as the United Kingdom because researchers could tap into samples collected at community-based PCR testing facilities. But in many countries authorities are no longer offering such services because of the expense and the decrease in demand, says Hill. People seem to prefer to self-test, or not test at all.
The body’s immune response is the primary target of the spike Protein that allows the SARS-CoV-2 virus to enter host cells. It’s important to watch out for a jump in the number of mutations in a new variant. “That’s a warning flag,” she says. In the Omicron variant, more than 30 different changes were made to the spikeprotein.
The World Health Organization only designates a new variant of concern if it is better at evading existing immune system protections or causes more severe disease.
Omicron not only contained many mutations, but also rapidly became a dominant variant in the population, suggesting it was spreading faster than, and out-competing, other variants in the community. The WHO designated Omicron a variant of concern within days of South African researchers alerting the international community to the variant’s rapid spread. It came after the first Omicron sequence was deposited.
Seven months after the first known sample was collected in India, the Delta variant was designated a variant of concern. At the beginning of 2021, there was a rise in hospitalizations and deaths in India, the first sign that a new variant could be on the horizon. Hill said it was connecting case counts and genetics as much as possible.
So far, most of the sequences that China has submitted to GISAID since the beginning of December belong to Omicron subvariants already in circulation elsewhere. The five new lineages aren’t likely to gain a foothold outside of China because of pre-existing immunity.
A COVID-19 researcher in China, who has asked to remain anonymous to avoid undue attention for weighing in on political matters, says that although current surveillance in China is insufficient, China is building its capacity and ramping up the number of sequences it uploads to GISAID each week.
The ruling Communist Party’s top decision-making body made the assessment during a closed-door meeting on Thursday presided over by Chinese leader Xi Jinping, in the latest signal the country is seeking to minimize the political fallout from zero-Covid.
The Politburo Standing Committee rejoins after the December 1st Unleashing of the Chinese Fidelity Policy: Emerging Evidence of a Miracle in Human History
The year-long policy had generated widespread discontent before it was scrapped in December due to rising economic costs, which surprised the public.
Hospitals were overwhelmed by cases because of the swift undoing of stringent disease controls, which caused a surge in cases. But the outbreak appears to have subsided in intensity in recent weeks, with official figures showing visits to fever clinics returning to levels below those of the period before restrictions were lifted after dropping from a peak in late December.
In its Thursday meeting, the Politburo Standing Committee said the highly populous nation had “created a miracle in human history” as it had “successfully pulled through a pandemic,” according to a summary published by state-run news agency Xinhua.
But experts say the assessment – the first from China’s top leaders since the surge of cases has appeared to recede – merely serves to underscore the deep questions that remain about the impact of the outbreak on the country.
In late January, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) chief epidemiologist Wu Zunyou said on his personal social media account that around 80% of people in China had already been infected.
China reported just 912 hospital deaths for February 3-9, compared to the previous week where there were as many as 4,273 deaths.
Huang pointed to several international reports, based on modeling, which has placed the actual death toll at upwards of 1 million over the past two months. “You can’t expect the government to admit to this (scale),” he said, “because people are going to ask the question – how could we have paid so much economic and social cost (from zero-Covid) to essentially come up with an outcome that is equal if not worse to the (toll in the) US.”
The Chinese leadership was seizing control of the story as the surge appears to have dissipated.
The credibility crisis that was created by the abrupt policy U-turn is not there anymore and people’s lives are returning to normal, so that is what we need to reconcile.
The Politburo Standing Committee referenced the need to continue to bolster health care in its meeting, according to the Xinhua summary, which said the body “urged all localities and departments to optimize related mechanisms and measures, strengthen the medical service system,” and called for planning for the next phase of vaccinations and enhancing medical supplies.
He said that covid was still with them for a long time. “After this tsunami, still they have the new challenge of strengthening the health care system.”