The campaign to vaccinate the aged has sparked hopes China may reverse the anti-virus controls that prompted protesters and demand President Xi Jinping resign. However, the country still faces many hurdles and could take up to a full year to achieve zero COVID.
Stock markets rose Monday after the National Health Commission announced the long-awaited campaign. Low vaccination rates are one of the greatest obstacles to ending the curbs that have kept millions of people in their homes, depressed economies, and prevented most visitors from China. Officials from the health department did not give an estimate of how long it would take.
Experts and economists warn that a vaccination campaign can take months. China must also build its hospitals and develop a long-term strategy to combat the virus. Experts and economists predict that zero COVID will be in place by mid-2023, possibly even 2024.
China is not in a position right now to abandon its zero-COVID’ policy and move towards a living with COVID’ policy, according to Mark Williams, chief Asia economist at Capital Economics. The capacity to provide health care is very limited.
China is the country that has been trying to stop the spread of the virus, which was first detected in late 2019. Other are trying to live with this virus that has already killed at least 6.6million people and infected nearly 650 million.
Protesters in China accuse the ruling Communist Party (RCP) of failing to provide a clear path to remove restrictions that have repeatedly shut down schools, businesses, and restricted access to neighborhoods. Although the case numbers are lower in China than in other countries, scientists and the public consider them excessive.
Family members who are confined to their homes for more than four months complain that they don’t have reliable access to food or medicine. Other have difficulty getting treatment for other medical conditions. Public outrage erupted over reports that two children died in quarantine after their parents claimed that anti-virus controls had made it difficult to access emergency medical care.
Nevertheless, a Shanghai-based infectious disease expert, COVID-19, expressed confidence that China can emerge from COVID with a proper vaccination program.
Zhang Wenhong stated that “our diagnosis, treatment, and vaccines have reached an extremely high level” at a medical conference held in Haikou on Nov. 18. “We are fully capable to finally tame the coronavirus.”
If restrictions are eased, China’s overworked and small-sized health care system could become overwhelmed, particularly in rural areas.
China has only 4.3 hospitals beds per person. This is less than the eight average in Mongolia, which is much poorer, according to the World Health Organization. Japan has 13, while South Korea has 12.
Yu Changping, a specialist in respiratory at People’s Hospital Wuhan University, stated that China will not lift COVID restrictions like other countries.
Yu stated that the epidemic would not go away in the next three to five years, and might never. It is a long-term task to control and prevent the spread of the disease in China.
October was the month that outbreaks began, and affected communities were forced to close down their shops and offices. To isolate workers from external contact, factories were needed.
These areas are estimated to account for as much as one-third China’s economic output, according to economists. Some forecasts predict that China’s annual growth rate will remain below 3% in 2021, which is less than half the 8.1% growth.
Although the number of cases is low, there is a possibility that “zero COVID” will fail at this stage. Williams said that it spreads quickly everywhere. “I believe that the authorities should go back to January and February 2020 to lock down everything.