- WHO says China’s control measures have not stopped COVID-19
- Countries should ask whether the right people are sufficiently vaccinated
- Open channels between China and WHO – Ryan
GENEVA, Dec 14 (Reuters) – COVID-19 infections were exploding in China well before the government’s decision to abandon its strict “zero-COVID” policy, a World Health Organization director said on Wednesday, dismissing the suggestions that the sudden turnaround caused a spike in cases.
The comments from WHO’s director of emergencies Mike Ryan came as he warned of the need to ramp up vaccinations in the world’s No. 2 economy.
Speaking at a media briefing, he said the virus was spreading “intensely” in the nation long before restrictions were lifted.
“There’s a narrative right now that China has lifted restrictions and suddenly the disease is out of control,” he said.
“The disease was spreading so intensively because I believe the control measures themselves weren’t stopping the disease. And I think China strategically decided that was no longer the best option.”
Beijing began to move away from its signature “zero-COVID” policy this month after protests against economically harmful limits advocated by President Xi Jinping.
The sudden easing of restrictions has sparked long queues outside fever clinics, a worrying sign that a surge in infections is building, though official counts of new cases have recently dropped as authorities eased testing.
In its most recent COVID report for the week to Nov. 27, WHO said China has reported an increase in hospitalizations for four consecutive weeks.
“So the challenge that China and other countries still have is: is it the people who need to be vaccinated, properly vaccinated, with the right vaccines and the right number of doses and when was the last time those people had the vaccines? Ryan said.
Euphoria in China met with changes in policy allowing people to live with the virus has quickly faded amid growing concerns about rising infections because the population lacks ‘herd immunity’ and has low vaccination rates among the elderly.
WHO senior epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove said the UN agency was providing technical advice to China and Ryan said channels were open.
Among the first major deals announced in which a Western drugmaker will supply China with COVID therapies, China Meheco Group Co Ltd (600056.SS) said Wednesday it will import and distribute Pfizer’s (PFE. N).
At the start of the briefing, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he was “confident” that the pandemic, which has killed more than 6.6 million people since it emerged in Wuhan, China three years ago, will not it will no longer be considered a global emergency in the near future. year.
Reporting by Emma Farge in Geneva; Written by Josephine Mason in London; Editing by Alison Williams, Raissa Kasolowsky, Alexandra Hudson
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