We must achieve excellent overall victory fighting COVID-19: Global Times editorial
Published: Jul 31, 2021 12:07 AM
Staff members carry out sterilization work at the Terminal 2 of Nanjing Lukou International Airport in Nanjing, East China's Jiangsu Province on Wednesday after 17 airport workers tested positive for the COVID-19. Photo: Xinhua

Staff members carry out sterilization work at the Terminal 2 of Nanjing Lukou International Airport in Nanjing, East China's Jiangsu Province on Wednesday after 17 airport workers tested positive for the COVID-19. Photo: Xinhua

The new wave of global COVID-19 pandemic caused by the Delta variant strain is very serious. The number of new confirmed cases in a single day has reached a new high in the US, Japan and many European countries, as well as affecting Nanjing, capital of East China's Jiangsu Province. The challenge posed by the pandemic to human society is still evolving. How to deal with it will have an extremely far-reaching impact on a country or nation. There is a competition for the comprehensive effect of COVID-19 fights among countries.

It has been more than a year since the COVID-19 outbreak. We have realized that first, this is not only a global public health crisis, but also a comprehensive economic, political and social crisis. The epidemic will inevitably reconstruct the international order, and countries that fail to fight COVID-19 will pay a painful price. Second, this is an unprecedented global problem. How should we prevent and fight the epidemic? How can we strike a balance between epidemic prevention, economic development and people's freedom to travel? There is no standard answer for decision-makers in different countries. Everyone is exploring and adjusting based on actual conditions.

The fight between human beings and COVID-19 has entered a stage of repeated struggles. Three representative coping measures have gradually become clear. As for which method is better and able to withstand the test of practice, time will tell.

The first is the British method. When the number of new infections has not been cleared or is even facing a rebound, the UK almost lifted all epidemic prevention restrictions: No limit on the number of people at public events, and no requirement to wear masks in public places. British streets and lanes have basically restored the situation before the epidemic. After being vaccinated on a large scale, British people have chosen to live with the coronavirus. The advantage of this method is that the economic and administrative cost of fighting the epidemic is relatively low, while the disadvantage is the risk is high. The coronavirus is still mutating, threatening the lives and health of people.

The second is the Chinese method. China lifted its domestic blockade as early as the second quarter of 2020, when the domestic infection had been cleared then. China has prevented a domestic rebound and foreign imports, maintained very strict entry quarantine measures, and has zero tolerance for new infections. This is called the ultimate prevention and control policy that pursues the clearance of all COVID-19 cases. The advantage of this method is that it greatly avoids the loss of life and health caused by COVID-19, and restores economic and social life as quickly as possible. However, some experts worry that if other countries achieve herd immunity in the future, it will exert great pressure on China and increase China's cost of prevention and control.

The third is the US method. The US has swayed a bit in its anti-epidemic policy. The US once gradually relieved the control measures, but due to the super transmission capability of the Delta variant, it has begun to tighten restrictions. The US is also facing a serious problem that its vaccination is encountering strong resistance from political divisions and it is difficult to move forward. If the scope of vaccination is limited, the US will not have the conditions to follow the UK's example even if it wants to.

The global COVID-19 fight is entering the second half and the situation remains grim. In particular, it cannot be ignored that there are still many developing and poor countries that cannot get enough vaccines. If these countries' problems become prolonged, the threat to global public health security is self-evident.

China's amazing success in the first half of the COVID-19 fight is not accidental. China's institutional advantages ensure that the government has the ability to pursue high prevention and control goals. In addition, China's economic and social structure as well as the public's attitude are sufficient for the country to maintain such prevention and control for a longer period of time. In the second half of the COVID-19 fight, China's advantages will continue to play a role. But the epidemic situation is changing rapidly, and China needs to respond accordingly and continuously improve its precise COVID-19 prevention and control capabilities.

A more difficult subject is that in the context of the global COVID-19 fight, how can a country's comprehensive competitiveness with sufficient economic and social openness be guaranteed? In other words, this is a competition for the overall effect of the COVID-19 fight. Some developed countries have a relatively high vaccination rate, and their current hospitalization and mortality rates are still acceptable. This situation has become the basis for their decision to relax COVID-19 control measures. If it turns out that this decision does not lead to a sharp rebound of the epidemic, they may take a big step toward a rapid economic recovery. We must achieve an excellent overall effect of the COVID-19 fight. When China achieves a relatively high vaccination rate, the country will also carefully choose the time to relieve relevant measures. But of course, this does not mean rash decisions.

The global public health crisis can only end with a global victory. All countries are struggling to achieve an excellent comprehensive effect of the COVID-19 fight. We look forward to the moment when mankind will achieve a common victory. We have full confidence in the ultimate victory.

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