It is not far for us to emerge from COVID-19: renowned infectious disease expert Zhang Wenhong
Published: Mar 25, 2023 10:00 PM
Zhang Wenhong Photo:VCG

Zhang Wenhong Photo:VCG

China has entered into a stage of low prevalence of the novel coronavirus, and it is not far for us to emerge from the COVID-19 crisis, renowned infectious disease expert Zhang Wenhong said on Saturday at the 2023 Asia Youth Leaders Forum in Guangzhou, according to media reports.

"China's health system has endured great challenges over the past three years, but it has survived. The WHO has announced that the number of people dying from COVID-19 is now at a historic low every day. I believe we are not far from getting over this COVID-19 public health emergency," said Zhang, head of the Center for Infectious Diseases with the Shanghai-based Huashan Hospital of Fudan University, Guangzhou Daily reported.

Zhang said that attending the forum is remarkable, because "here I see Asian youth communicating without barriers, without masks anymore. That means all our works fighting against the virus paid off for enabling us to communicate freely."

Zhang said that the pandemic makes more people realize that a resilient global social system can only be built through communication and solidarity in the face of uncertain events, according to the report.

On March 17, the WHO predicted that the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to end this year.

"We are certainly in a much better position now than we have been at any time during the pandemic," said the WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. He noted on March 17 that in the past four weeks, the weekly number of reported deaths has been lower than it was before the pandemic was declared in March 2020.

On March 18, data released by the China Center for Disease Control and Prevention showed that since March 3, the number of positive nucleic acid tests of the novel coronavirus in China has fluctuated downward, but the number of positive tests reported daily remains above 4,000.

Zhang predicted on March 21 at another forum that COVID-19 will become endemic in the future. That means the outbreaks will be consistently present but limited to a particular region, no longer causing significant harm to society, National Business Daily reported.

For example, during recent H1N1 outbreaks across China, Zhang's team detected that the primary strain types were H3N2 and H1N1, both of which were normal strains that constantly mutated after the pandemic and would not cause further frightening pandemics.

Zhang said that after three years of fighting the epidemic, China has established a mechanism that includes strengthened primary health care services and improved vaccines systems to deal with public health crises.

"Overall, China has made sustained preparations for the potential future outbreaks. I am confident that the next wave will not lead to a significant harm on our social life and economy anymore," Zhang noted on March 21.

He also called for establishment of a commonly used science and technology platform to integrate and coordinate vaccines, treatment, testing and public measures to deal with outbreaks.