China’s National Health Commission on Tuesday revealed plans to improve vaccination rates against COVID-19 among the elderly. At the same time, experts are increasingly calling on China to rethink its “zero Covid” strategy and focus on sudden lockdowns and frequent mass testing.
- China’s National Health Commission said in its plan that it intends to reach the elderly by setting up vaccination centers in nursing homes, activity centers for the elderly and other crowded places.
- Seniors who refuse to be vaccinated will have to provide a reason and administrators will be responsible for keeping a record.
- The Public Health Authority also ordered local officials to mine various databases, such as those containing residents’ social security, medical insurance and health records, to effectively target the elderly for vaccination.
- Other plans offered include better monitoring of potential adverse effects and publication of the vaccine’s efficacy.
- The announcement was well received by the markets, with Hong Kong’s Hang Seng jumping more than 5.2% and the SSE’s Shanghai Composite jumping more than 2.3%.
- New cases of Covid-19 continue to trickle in in China, which reported 38,645 new cases, with and without symptoms, on Tuesday, the fifth consecutive day of more than 35,000 cases.
A large number
65.7%. This is the percentage of people over the age of 80 who have been fully vaccinated in China, according to state-run newspaper China Daily earlier this month. Only 40% of them received booster doses.
With daily Covid-19 cases hitting new highs last week, the effectiveness of China’s “zero Covid” strategy has come into question. The government’s commitment to this strategy has been limited to implementing strict containment measures and ongoing mass testing, which has failed to contain the rapidly spreading Omicron variant. Experts have warned that the alternative could quickly overwhelm China’s healthcare system as vaccine uptake among vulnerable groups remains low. Multiple factors have contributed to low vaccination rates among the elderly, including China’s initial policy of limiting vaccine access to adults under 60 and public skepticism about the vaccine’s efficacy and safety. Tuesday’s move to vaccinate the elderly could be the first sign that China is looking to break out of the cycle of lockdown and testing, as public discontent with the measures continues to build. Despite this, the government has tried to silence all the protests against “zero Covid” measures that broke out in major Chinese cities, including Beijing and Shanghai, over the weekend. The “zero Covid” approach aims to eliminate the local spread of Covid through strict lockdowns and frequent mass testing.
In order to avoid further protests against the government, many Chinese universities have asked their students to leave campuses and return home, according to the Associated Press. Universities and colleges have become the focus of many protests across the country, with students criticizing the government and Chinese leader Xi Jinping while calling for more freedom. According to Reuters, some people who participated in the protests are being questioned about their role. The protests are the biggest challenge Xi Jinping has faced in several years, after he secured an unprecedented third term in office last month.
Translated article from the American magazine Forbes – Author: Siladitya Ray
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