Caixin
Nov 14, 2020 02:14 AM
SOCIETY & CULTURE

Caixin Summit: Global Travel May Be Back to Normal by Spring 2022

Zhang Wenhong. Photo: Caixin
Zhang Wenhong. Photo: Caixin

Cross-border global travel could return to normal as early as spring 2022 once the Covid-19 pandemic is contained and after the majority of the world’s population receives vaccinations, a prominent Chinese infectious disease expert said.

Speaking at the Caixin Summit Friday, Zhang Wenhong, director of the infectious diseases department at Huashan Hospital in Shanghai, said that until more than 60% of the population is vaccinated, China should maintain its current disease-control strategy of keeping new cases at a “dynamic zero” pace by adopting rapid mass testing and precision management.

The new coronavirus has infected more than 52 million people and killed nearly 1.3 million worldwide as of Friday.

The most vulnerable groups of people should have top priority for vaccination, Zhang said. This could significantly reduce the death rate of the pandemic.

“It is hardly possible to protect the whole country without high vaccination rates,” he said.

Early Monday, Pfizer and partner BioNTech said their vaccine was more than 90% effective based on clinical trial data. In Brazil, China’s Sinovac coronavirus vaccine trial was halted Tuesday but resumed Wednesday.

“We have to wait for the world in the balance, since to defeat Covid-19 has never been a personal thing but needs global cooperation,” Zhang said. “It is also unlikely the virus will be quickly eliminated, which in reality will take one to two years.”

“In the near future of one to two years, China still has to stick with the already-formed strategy,” he said. That includes “responding in a timely way once infections are discovered and rapidly tracking cases until ultimately curbing the spread.” Zhang also emphasized this a week ago during the third annual China International Import Expo.

“China and some European countries take different strategies,” Zhang said. “In Britain and France, they tighten controls when the situation worsens but loosen restrictions when it turns better for economic considerations.”

“People’s lives go on,” he said. “No need to overreact and make a fuss about it, as long as we keep good hygiene habits, and this is what I regard as a new normal, with health-care workers’ guards up, with other people practicing good hygiene.”

Zhang said he has confidence in curbing the pandemic in the future and holds positive prospects for the world.

“On the flip side, the pandemic has prompted us to invest more in public health, equipping us with more experience in fighting infectious diseases,” Zhang said.

Contact editor Bob Simison (bobsimison@caixin.com).

For more on the 2020 Caixin Summit, click here.

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