Caixin
Jun 24, 2021 08:33 PM
CHINA

Caixin Summit: China Needs to Balance Mass Vaccination Goals With Stopping Covid’s Spread, Disease Expert Says

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

China needs to complete its mass vaccination program this year and continue non-pharmaceutical interventions to prevent the spread of Covid-19, infectious disease expert Zhang Wenhong told the Caixin Summer Summit 2021.

The country should continue its efforts to inoculate its population and maintain prevention and control measures, said Zhang, director of the infectious diseases department at Huashan Hospital in Shanghai. International exchanges can be resumed when the prevalence of the disease is reduced to be similar to a seasonal influenza, he added.

“What we are trying to do is not to eradicate the infectious disease, but to eliminate its prevalence,” he said via a video link Thursday.

As of Saturday, China had administered more than 1 billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines, according to the National Health Commission. Zhang said that the country is expected to meet its goal of vaccinating 40% of its population, or 560 million people, by the end of June.

Countries will be able to rely on vaccines to keep the prevalence of Covid-19 at a low level if their vaccination rate can exceed 80%, Zhang said, citing an epidemiological model built by Professor Yu Hongjie from the School of Public Health at Fudan University. A country can rely on vaccines to reduce the spread of the disease if at least 50% of its population is vaccinated.

Currently, the world is still facing obstacles in terms of equality in vaccine distribution and vaccine efficacy, while variants of the virus pose challenges, Zhang said.

“I think every country’s goal for the future is exactly the same, which is to raise the vaccine coverage, and we will also improve procedures to raise vaccine efficacy,” he said. “Scientists and all countries should further cooperate and work together, and we should be able to see elimination of the prevalence of the infectious diseases.”

Contact reporter Cai Xuejiao (xuejiaocai@caixin.com) and editor Michael Bellart (michaelbellart@caixin.com)

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