End of pandemic in sight, says former CDC director at Boao Forum for Asia
Published: Mar 29, 2023 10:45 PM
The panel focusing on ending the Covid-19 pandemic at the Boao Forum for Asia on March 29, 2023. Photo: Hu Yuwei/GT

The panel focusing on ending the Covid-19 pandemic at the Boao Forum for Asia on March 29, 2023. Photo: Hu Yuwei/GT

The end of the COVID-19 pandemic is in sight, and China's public health system has made great progress, Gao Fu, a well-known national political advisor and former director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said at a panel focusing on ending the COVID-19 pandemic at the Boao Forum for Asia on Wednesday.

"The end of the pandemic hasn't been officially declared yet, but we're getting close. Looking back over the past three years, China's public health system has made great progress compared with the time of the SARS outbreak in 2003, because it took less than one week to determine the whole genome sequence of the novel coronavirus and share it with the rest of world," Gao told the Global Times at the forum. 

China has always been transparent, open and responsible in releasing data on COVID-19, and there is no such thing as hidden data, Gao said in response to repeated Western media accusations claiming that China hid the relevant data from the international community.

"We don't want to throw all the raw data directly out there without doing any proper analysis. We are professionals, we are scientists, and we are always scientific and cautious. We always keep an open, transparent and responsible attitude as our strategy," Gao noted.

Can COVID-19 be declared over as soon as possible? Where are the next plans for vaccines and drugs? What lessons have we learned from fighting against COVID19? Questions such as these have been raised at the Boao Forum for Asia, the first offline forum over past three years, allowing people to communicate face to face without wearing masks.

The international panelists all said that China's public health system has been strengthened and improved in the wake of COVID-19 and has become more resilient to cope with future public health crises.

"Our system has been strengthened during the pandemic, including a significant increase in the use of traditional Chinese medicine domestically and globally. But we still have a lot of room for improvement, especially in basic research," panelist Wang Yitao, a professor at the Macao Institute of Chinese Medical Sciences, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

Gao said in the panel session that China still needs to keep raising public awareness about national health, which needs a strong government and unified public policy. The academician called on the public to neither panic nor take the disease lightly, as it may become endemic in the future.

International experts have stressed that vaccines should continue to be administered, given that their quality is improving. This will need joint efforts by the international community.

Leif Johansson, president of the board of directors of AstraZeneca, said at the panel that with the help of the manufacturing base in China, the company has been able to produce more than 3 billion doses of its vaccine and spread it to 180 countries, which could not be achieved normally. 

Gao also emphasized international cooperation and vaccine sharing. "If we share the vaccine, the virus can be wiped out by the whole world. But if we don't, the virus will split the world. We should work together to enable more countries to have vaccine production capacities around the world," said Gao.