According to the researchers from China, the restoration of normalcy in mobility across COVID-zero regions in the country will cause around 2 million deaths a year, and the only way to control the virus is through the development of vaccines that offer a high level of efficacy, thereby preventing the infection from spreading. Notably, China’s zero-COVID restrictions have come under a lot of scrutiny in recent times as it is hosting the Winter Olympics in the national capital, while also using sweeping restrictions in order to prevent the omicron spread, which is more infectious.
Chinese officials, scientists, and public health specialists have put forth the fact that it is time to maintain stringent controls on the current situation since the transmission risk is very high and a mass infection scenario will put phenomenal pressure on the health system. The researchers have calculated the baseline efficacy of CoronaVac, the one used in Chile, and Pfizer and Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines used in Britain.
Researchers have gathered from their findings that the baseline efficacy of the vaccines against the disease was 68.3% and against death, around 86%. The efficacy estimation for infection is based on data from Britain. On the other hand, efficacy against symptomatic disease as well as deaths is based on the Chilean data extracted from the CoronaVac study.
All said, with the global inoculation rate of 95%, if population mobility is restored to the 2019 levels, there is an estimation that all the COVID-zero regions will see infection numbers of more than 234 million in a year, which includes 64 million symptomatic cases and also 2 million deaths.
Chinese scientists in a paper published in the China Center for Disease Control and Prevention said that vaccine development must continue taking place and new ways should be explored to improve them so that the elimination of COVID-19 takes place at a global level. It is said in the published report that in order to reduce COVID to the level of an influenza post restoring mobility, the vaccine efficacy must be enhanced to 40% in cases of infection and 90% in cases of symptomatic disease.
Scientists have also come to the conclusion that it is more important that new vaccines be infection effective. The team has put forth an opinion that the key to controlling COVID lies in the development and effective as well as widespread use of efficient vaccines.
It should be noted that China is the only major country in the world that has maintained its zero-COVID policy despite repeated warnings that the move would harm its growth.Countries like Australia, New Zealand, and even Singapore have discontinued this strategy and are now sticking to the fact of learning to live with COVID.
China in recent times has doubled its “zero-COVID” message and consistently continues to seal off cities. The latest addition to the list is Baise in south Guangxi. Some athletes who are currently participating in the Winter Olympics have called the current steps excessive as they are being held in a closed loop bubble.
Wu Zunyou, who happens to be CCDC’s chief epidemiologist, tells Global Times that COVID-19 was initially thought as a virus that could be contained with vaccines, but he feels that there are no simple measures to contain it other than taking comprehensive measures.