- The World Health Organization says Chinese control measures have not stopped COVID-19
- States should ask if suitable people have been properly vaccinated
- Opening channels between China and the World Health Organization – Ryan
GENEVA (Reuters) – The head of the World Health Organization said on Wednesday that COVID-19 cases rose dramatically in China long before the government decided to abandon its strict “zero Covid” policy, dismissing suggestions that the sudden reversal caused a sharp rise. in cases.
The comments by WHO emergencies director Mike Ryan came as he warned of the need to ramp up vaccinations in the world’s second-largest economy.
He told a news conference that the virus was circulating “widespread” in the country long before restrictions were lifted.
“There is a narrative now that China lifted the restrictions and suddenly the disease got out of control,” he said.
The disease was spreading intensely because I believe that the control measures by themselves did not stop the disease. And I think China has strategically decided that is no longer the best option. »
Beijing began rolling back its “zero COVID” policy this month after protests against devastating economic restrictions called for by President Xi Jinping.
The sudden easing of restrictions has led to long lines outside fever clinics in a worrying sign of a growing wave of infections, although the official number of new cases has fallen recently as authorities backed away from testing.
In its latest coronavirus report for the week ending November 27, the World Health Organization said China had reported an increase in hospital admissions for four consecutive weeks.
“So the challenge that China and other countries still face is: who needs to be vaccinated, the right vaccination, with the right vaccines and the right number of doses, and when was the last time those people got the vaccines,” Ryan said. He said. .
Euphoria in China welcoming political changes allowing people to live with the virus has quickly faded amid growing fears of a sharp rise in infections because the population lacks ‘herd immunity’ and has low vaccination rates among the elderly.
Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO’s chief epidemiologist, said the UN agency provides technical advice to China, and Ryan said there are open channels.
Among the first major deals announced under which a Western pharmaceutical company would supply COVID-treatments to China was China Meheco Group Co Ltd. (600056.SS) on Wednesday announced that it will import and distribute the oral Paxlovid treatment for COVID-19 from Pfizer Inc.
Earlier in the briefing, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he was “hopeful” that the pandemic, which has killed more than 6.6 million people since it emerged in Wuhan, China three years ago, will not be considered a global emergency at any time. the future. . General.
(Reporting by Emma Farge in Geneva). Written by Josephine Mason in London. Editing by Allison Williams, Raisa Kasulowski, Alexandra Hudson
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