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China Can't Open Up Like US Despite Vaccination
Published on: 2021-06-04
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China can’t start easing pandemic restrictions like the U.S, even as its inoculation campaign gathers pace, because it has no way of analyzing how well its vaccines have worked in its largely Covid-free population, according to a top health official.

Despite administering more than 40% of its citizens with at least one dose, Feng Zijian, the deputy director General of China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said the country “has some unique difficulties” and is unable to match the U.S.’s ability to examine vaccine effectiveness in real-time as cases and deaths ebbed.

China has largely eliminated infections -- there’s been only one Covid-19 related fatality in the last 13 months -- which means it’s harder to gauge if vaccination is having an immediate impact.

“I don’t think we’ve got to that point - if we try to open even when 60% or 80% of population are vaccinated, it could still lead to a severe outbreak,” Feng said Thursday at a conference in the eastern city of Qingdao. “It largely depends on the technical considerations, societal consensus and political concerns,” he said.

Though Feng didn’t elaborate on what he meant by technical considerations, it’s unknown if China’s vaccines can prevent onward transmission, and not just serious sickness. Messenger RNA shots made by Pfizer Inc., BioNTech SE and Moderna Inc. appear to be able do both, diminishing outbreaks in the U.S., Israel and other places.

Feng’s comment signals that China intends to remain closed off even as other major economies race to open up following large-scale vaccine efforts. After a lackluster start dogged by vaccine hesitancy and some supply shortages, China has now deployed more than 704 million shots, putting the country’s 1.4 billion people on track for herd immunity territory in just a few months.









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