Interprovincial COVID-19 spread from Nanjing a nationwide stress test for China: Zhang Wenhong
Published: Jul 29, 2021 01:03 PM
Zhang Wenhong. Photo: VCG

Zhang Wenhong. Photo: VCG

The COVID-19 outbreak in Nanjing, East China's Jiangsu Province prompted a nationwide stress test and provided more thoughts for future epidemic prevention and control, prominent Chinese infectious disease specialist Zhang Wenhong noted on his personal Sina Weibo account on Thursday in response to the recent epidemic resurgence in Jiangsu which has spread to several other provinces.

With Delta variant being confirmed in the cluster infections, the epidemic outbreak in Nanjing has spread to five provinces and one municipality across China including Anhui, Guangdong, Sichuan, Liaoning, Hunan provinces and Beijing municipality. Nearly 200 infections nationwide have been reported (including 177 cases in Jiangsu) as of Thursday Morning. Among them, seven are severe cases in Nanjing. 

However, Zhang thinks the epidemic is still controllable since all the confirmed cases in other provinces are linked to the source of the outbreak in Nanjing Lukou International Airport. If there are no second- or third-generation infections in other provinces in the next one or two weeks, this round of resurgence will still be contained in Nanjing. 

In Nanjing, since confirmed infections are mainly family members of the airport staffers and there have not been community infections with other source unrelated to the airport, the epidemic is still at the early stage of widespread community dispersal. 

The key point of the epidemic containment is monitoring in the next one or two weeks. If more unrelated infections to the airport are spotted, more decisive measures will be necessary, Zhang noted. 

The resurgence of the epidemic in Nanjing also aroused public concerns over the efficacy of vaccines. 

In regards to the efficacy of Chinese vaccines, Zhang cited the real-world effectiveness studies of Chinese company Sinovac's vaccine CoronaVac in Chile which suggests the vaccine had high effectiveness against severe disease, hospitalizations, and death, underscoring its potential to save lives and substantially reduce demands on the healthcare system.

Zhang also cited latest statistics from the UK and Israel where inoculation rates have reached nearly 70 percent. It shows that the fatality rate there has lowered to 0.1 percent over the past week, similar to the fatality rate of influenza. 

Even if the resurgence of COVID-19 cannot be entirely avoidable by inoculation, the serious consequences caused by the virus can be eliminated since the fatality rate is lowered to the level of influenza, Zhang noted. 

Zhang noted that most virologists in the world now agree that COVID-19 is a resident virus which the whole world has to learn to live with. Thus, "what we have gone through was not the most difficult; what's more difficult is the wisdom to live with the virus for the long term." 

Global Times