‘Living with COVID-19’ doesn’t change China’s people-centered epidemic coping strategy: experts
Published: Aug 05, 2021 08:35 PM
Working staff wearing personal protective equipment at a neighborhood placed under lockdown, after a resident tested positive for COVID-19 in Shanghai on Tuesday Photo: VCG

Working staff wearing personal protective equipment at a neighborhood placed under lockdown, after a resident tested positive for COVID-19 in Shanghai on Tuesday Photo: VCG

 As China is grappling with its worst resurgence of COVID-19 caused by the Delta variant since the outbreak in Wuhan, the discussion of "living with the virus" among experts has led the West to raise a fresh round of throwing mud on China's prevention and control strategy. 

Is China's strategy still sustainable in face of the virus' mutation and worst flare-ups? Some have questioned it. 

Experts reached by Global Times said that China's epidemic coping strategy has turned out to be a success after more than one year of fighting against the coronavirus -- most regions in the country are safe from the virus and fewer people are affected due to more precise prevention and control methods -- and China will continue to optimize it in the face of mutated variants and the pandemic situation.

Officials in the UK and Singapore have explicitly encouraged people to adapt to the virus and live with it. Zhang Wenhong, a leading infectious disease expert in Shanghai, recently said the majority of virologists in the world agree that the world has to learn to live with this virus. 

Shi Zhengli, a Chinese virologist who is known as "bat woman" after identifying dozens of deadly SARS-like viruses in bat caves, told a Chinese media outlet  that "we need to let go of the panic and be prepared to live with the coronavirus for a while." 

The phrase "to live with the virus," instead of being interpreted as abandoning the current strict approach against COVID-19 as some in the West see it, means China has preparations for a drawn-out battle against the deadly virus, Wang Guangfa, a respiratory expert at Peking University First Hospital, who was a member of the WHO-China joint expert team in Wuhan in February 2020, told the Global Times on Thursday.

Chinese society has acknowledged that the virus won't vanish and may exist in the world as does influenza, and China's way of living with the virus is trying to restrict the virus' spread and intensity of infections to the lowest extent and smallest scale. This is different from the notion of "living with the virus" in the West, such as the US or the UK, where every day thousands of people were infected and hundreds have died of the infectious disease, Wang noted. 

"Given the high fatality and transmission rates of the virus, China believes the right approach is to always put the lives and health of the people as top priority. As for the infection and death rates, the lower the better," Wang noted, adding that some in the West defamed China's COVID-19 response but this is of no importance, because China clearly understands what is the best for the country and for its people.

More than one year of fighting against COVID-19 proved that China's model is successful, where it is able to stamp out the virus domestically and curb rounds of outbreaks caused by overseas epidemics in a short time, a Beijing-based immunologist told the Global Times on condition of anonymity.

The fresh round of defaming China's epidemic coping method from the West once again reveals the vicious intention of some people in the West against China, when their own countries indulge in a laissez-faire anti-epidemic mode under which millions of people lost their lives, the immunologist said.

China's response comes with a price but compares with the benefits, the price is small and will become less, Wang told the Global Times, explaining that due to the previous hard-won victory, the majority of regions in China are now safe from the virus. In addition, as many lessons are being learned and measures are being optimized, China now acts more swiftly and does a better job in precise prevention and control measures against any epidemic resurgence.

With the Delta variant spreading, for example, Beijing runs normally and only locks down several communities after confirming cases, and people in Wuhan queue up to take tests in an orderly and calm manner, and only have dozens of communities sealed off.

On Thursday, officials from the State Council's anti-epidemic leading group also confirmed the efficacy of the current approach. Scientific studies and epidemic prevention and control practices at home and abroad have shown that the Delta mutant strain has not altered biological characteristics of the coronavirus, and China's epidemic response measures are still effective against Delta, He Qinghua, a senior official with the National Health Commission, said at the press conference on Thursday. 

Some Western media have hyped China's anti-epidemic efforts as "fragile" by defaming the efficacy of Chinese-made vaccines. Vaccines are regarded as a key method for herd immunity. In reply, He said the existing vaccines still have good preventive and protective effects against the virus, which can reduce the risk of virus transmission, the transmissibility of infected persons, and the incidence of severe illness and death after infection.

As for when China will loosen its strict methods against COVID-19, Chinese experts believed it will be reflected many scientific factors, such as, when there is an effective cure, the overseas epidemic declines and herd immunity has been established.