China CDC confirms fourth shot against COVID-19 a necessity to exit from pandemic

Amid the debate, on whether China has a COVID-19 exit strategy and tragedies arising out of China’s dreaded zero COVID policy, the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (China CDC) has confirmed the necessity of a fourth shot against COVID-19 for an exit from the pandemic.

In a recent article, China CDC said, a well-timed second booster dose is necessary for a safe, long-term exit from the pandemic. Its design and strategy will be based on emerging evidence of the duration of protection afforded by the vaccines.

In the article, some of the leading experts and officials of the China CDC also called on the last 10 per cent of the country’s population who have yet to be fully vaccinated to take shots as soon as possible.

According to recent data from the State Council, more than 1.2 billion people had been fully vaccinated, accounting for 89.96 per cent of the total population. People who had received a booster shot exceeded 821 million, the data showed.

The Chinese State Media reported that the country has started clinical research on the second booster shot. So far, there was no policy for a second booster dose in China even as the country is currently struggling to contain the recurring spikes of the COVID-19 virus in different cities prompting lockdowns for millions disrupting the lives and the economy.

In past and even more recently, China saw a new wave of anger about China’s strict COVID policies as a bus carrying people to a quarantine centre overturned, killing 27. There were reports of lack of food for people in lockdowns, deaths due to non-availability of medical facilities for non-COVID patients, and misuse of power by public authorities as Chinese people expressed their frustration over the unending and inflexible “zero-COVID” policy.

Experts said this policy was successful at the beginning of the pandemic. However, as the pandemic has entered into its third year with more understanding about the virus and vaccine availability, the policy has lost its effectiveness. It has now become a drag on people’s lives and the economy.

Many experts have said that with the crucial political season in China expected to last till March 2023, any kind of loosening in the country’s zero-COVID strategy should not be expected before the second half of 2023. Authorities, however, need to increase vaccination among the elderly.

They should make the people aware of the repercussions of such a loosening in the policy which may cause a spike in the COVID cases causing unbearable pressure on public health infrastructure.

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