Has China overly opposed the Covid-19?

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The country cares enough about vaccination because of a false sense of security.

By Yanzhong Huang

Mr. Huang is a fitness expert specializing in China.

January 23 marked the anniversary of the closure in Wuhan, the world’s first coronavirus closure, and before the occasion, the Chinese government intensified its efforts to show its triumph over this initial fatal epidemic.

A few weeks after the emergence of the new coronavirus last year, China began reporting a drastic decrease in the number of cases shown. It then implemented an “infection 0” policy: detecting a singles case can immediately cause competitive quarantines. sanction restrictions, bulk testing, and touch search until the number of instances returns to 0.

According to its own admission, the Chinese government has done very well, with infection figures across the country rarely exceeding one hundred between March 7, 2020 and January 8, 2021.

Some will doubt the reliability of China’s official statistics, especially given the authorities’ initial efforts to suppress key facts about the virus outbreak in Wuhan last year, but even if those figures are somewhat exaggerated or sesate, and even given the alarming wave of new epidemics in China recently, there is a clever explanation for why China has actually done much more to involve the spread of the virus than other primary economies. For example, articles published in Nature Medicine and JAMA Network Open, based on widespread antibody tests between March and May, showed low levels of infections in Wuhan and other Chinese cities at the time.

But China’s comparative good fortune is now in danger of harming the country. Having been largely safe from the pandemic, most Chinese remain vulnerable to infection, although some seem reluctant to be vaccinated due to a false sense of security. The Chinese government overexposes vaccines made in China.

In September, Caixin magazine published a survey of approximately 1,900 Chinese in six provinces: less than a quarter of respondents said they agreed or very agreed that they, their family or friends were in danger of contracting Covid-19Array. before two Chinese vaccines were approved for general use and before the existing wave of epidemics, the most recent findings are consistent.

A survey conducted through Ipsos for the World Economic Forum in December tested confidence in Covid-19 vaccines in 10 Countries of the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development and five emerging economies. Approximately 80% of Chinese respondents said they would take a vaccine if and those who said they would not, about 70% discussed effects-related issues, a result consistent with responses from the other teams surveyed. However, it is notable that 32% of Chinese who hesitate to vaccinate cited “not being sufficiently exposed to the covid-19 threat” as the main explanation for their upshoo, the highest figure in the study.

“I’ll only take it if it’s mandatory,” a friend of mine who lives in Shanghai about vaccination recently told me. “The threat of infection here is very low. “

A columnist for The Paper, in an online publication covering questionable topics, recently argued that the Chinese’ goal of getting vaccinated would only be minimized as vaccination was implemented, as they would feel even safer.

It is also noteworthy: only 16% of Chinese respondents in the Ipsos-World Economic Forum survey who were skeptical of vaccines said they were because of their considerations of vaccine effectiveness, this percentage is the lowest among all the teams surveyed.

This fact is all the more remarkable given that China has been shaken by primary food and fitness protection scandals over the years: they involve cadmium-contaminated rice, melamine-containing infant formula, and at least part of a dozen poor quality vaccines. seem to shape existing views.

In any case, too, social media platforms such as Weibo, WeChat and Bilibili are full of messages and articles that promote conspiracy theories, some promoted through Chinese officials, about vaccines evolved in the West: those involving mercury and deliberately; can modify human genes.

In a survey conducted through local government in Changzhou, a city in jiangsu coastal province, in November and December, 79% of respondents said they would be more likely to take vaccines made in China, compared to the 7% who said they liked vaccines Based on a series of online surveys of urban citizens across China through the China Data Lab at the University of California, San Diego , Chinese public confidence in the central government and local government increased in the first part of 2020.

People’s sense of safety turns out to be shaped and shared through public fitness skills. Wu Zunyou, a leading epidemiologist at China’s Center for Disease Control, said last December that “the chances of infection are very low. “Zhang Wenhong, an infectious disease expert who has become a small celebrity thanks to his transparent speech, said last month that there is no urgency to implement mass vaccination because “China has done the most productive task of any country in controlling Covid. “

The government recently announced a national crusade to vaccinate another 50 million people from high-priority teams, workers, doctors and essential border inspection personnel, before Lunar New Year, in a primary rush, next month. Inoculate all “eligible persons”, a category that excludes anyone who is pregnant, breastfeeding or immunocompromised, as well as other persons under the age of 18 or over 59.

The resolve to exclude older members of the population at the moment would possibly seem strange, given that Covid-19 kills more, however, the resolution appears to be informed through a lack of clinical knowledge about the imaginable side effects of vaccination at this age. Slice. Partly as a result, however, the vaccination campaign, even in its current stage, will exclude at least 35 percent of the population.

Based on a study on the transmissibility of the virus published in The Lancet in November, among others, I estimate that, to discharge collective immunity, China would have to vaccinate at least 66% of its population with vaccines with an effective rate of at least 91 percent. Since vaccination, opposite Covid-19, requires two injections, China is expected to implement 1. 850 million doses.

But 91% is the never-reported rate of efficacy (in a trial in Turkey) for the vaccine manufactured through Sinovac, for example; Brazilian researchers have recently calculated this figure at just over 50% and China has only sufficient production capacity for up to 1. 8 billion doses this year.

More importantly, perhaps because the Chinese government itself also perceives that the threat of mass infections is low, it turns out that it overexposes vaccines made in China to increase its influence abroad. By early January, China’s two major vaccine manufacturers, Sinopharm and Sinovac, had sold or won foreign orders for more than 800 million doses (China plans to buy one hundred million shotsArray, but that would possibly not be enough to bridge the gap between source and needs).

In this context, a remnant of infection policy 0 is impossible. Lu Hongzhou, co-director of the Shanghai Clinical Center for Public Health at Fudan University, recently told Chinese media that politics will have to be maintained “at all costs. “In September, President Xi Jinping said, “We won’t have to abandon the hard-won achievements of the fight against the epidemic halfway. “

The benefits were real: in terms of lives saved, of course, but also in terms of politics, economy and prestige. For some, China has a kind of “new refuge”; it was also the only primary economy to expand last year.

But these achievements put great pressure on the state and the public to maintain efforts against incredibly beloved coronaviruses, even though they can become increasingly difficult to maintain.

One of my acquaintances, the head of the east city’s fitness commission of about 300,000 people, recently said on WeChat that she “walked like fine ice and sat like pins and needles” when it comes to enforcing the government’s tolerance. Policy.

Because the virus is highly transmitted and spreads largely through asymptomatic carriers, an undetected unmarried case can temporarily cause a new epidemic. Recent outbreaks in several cities in northern China are the largest outbreaks in the country since the first in Wuhan a year ago Since the beginning of this month, about 60 million more people in Heilongjiang and Hebei provinces, almost the equivalent of the entire population of Italy, have been blocked.

Things will probably become more confusing for Chinese fitness officials, as I know, only if Western countries, having driven much more than China to mass vaccination efforts (albeit rather bad), achieve collective immunity before that. simply undermine China’s approach, especially if the government makes the decision to keep the country’s borders closed for reasons of public aptitude after life returns to semi-normality in other parts of the world.

China’s comparative good fortune in containing the coronavirus has left it at a deadlock: the population feels much safer than it should be, even though it remains very vulnerable to infection and will be for some time.

Yanzhong Huang is a senior global health researcher at the Council on Foreign Relations and a professor at Seton Hall University’s School of Diplomacy and International Relations.

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