West's 'coexistence with virus' should not be standard for China's anti-epidemic strategy: top Chinese epidemiologist
Published: Mar 01, 2022 07:11 PM
Zeng Guang Photo: Courtesy of Zeng

Zeng Guang Photo: Courtesy of Zeng

China and the West share the same scientific consensus on the Omicron variant of COVID-19, and the differences in countermeasures can be attributed to the different trajectories of epidemic prevention, the status of the epidemic, and socio-economic pressures, according to top Chinese epidemiologist Zeng Guang on Monday.

Zeng, former chief epidemiologist of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, wrote on the Chinese twitter-like social media Sina Weibo that some people mistakenly use the West's "coexisting with the virus" strategy as an alternative indicator of evaluating epidemic prevention in China, and it is necessary to clarify the context of the two different approaches.

It is now well established that the Omicron variant is more transmissible and is spreading globally, said Zeng, and it is now widely accepted that improving vaccination rates and developing new anti-coronavirus drugs can prevent transmission and save lives more efficiently.

When talking about the West's "coexisting with the virus" strategy, Zeng pointed out that Western countries missed the window period to control the epidemic from the beginning, and the fragile defense line of public health was washed to pieces.

As of February 26, there were 78 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported in the US alone with more than 940,000 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the US.

After assessing the impact of long-lasting epidemic and mortality, which have been out of control, alleviating the increasing social and economic pressures has become a priority for the West, Zeng added, which is the reason the "coexisting with the virus" strategy can survive in Western societies.

Zeng explained that compared with the West, China's dynamic zero-COVID is inseparable from a series of measures such as epidemiological investigation and tracking, large-scale nucleic acid testing, compulsory quarantine of close contacts, community closure, restrictions on the movement of people, and circuit breaker international flights. These are the inevitable costs of dynamic zero-COVID strategy.

Although China has invested considerable resources for dynamic 'Zero-COVID' in the past two years, it has avoided hundreds of millions of cases and millions of deaths,  thus escorting social and economic development.

"China's dynamic zero-COVID is for a specific period of epidemic prevention, and will not remain unchanged forever," Zeng said, noting that Western countries' implementation of "coexisting with the virus" strategy poses challenges to China's anti-epidemic work. 

Global Times