WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- Thousands of people in China have taken to the streets against its government’s strict Covid policies.
- In pursuit of an extreme zero-Covid policy, China implements harsh lockdowns and rules.
- Though Covid is spiraling out of control across China, the country refuses to use Western mRNA vaccines to innoculate its citizens.
As protests flare up in Chinese cities, the country’s government has promised to accelerate the COVID-19 vaccine rollout to better protect its citizens from the virus and to pull back on unpopular “zero COVID” policies.
Health officials said on Tuesday that the country would be ramping up vaccine rollout for elderly people, Reuters reported.
But hesitancy to use Western vaccine technology may be hampering China’s response to the pandemic, leading to harsh COVID-19 restrictions that have sparked rare demonstrations in major cities.
China’s strict “zero-COVID” policies which require many people to show negative PCR tests when they want to go out in public aren’t a long-term solution. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the US’ top disease expert, called them “draconian.”
The measures sparked major protests in the country over the weekend with demonstrators fighting back against the country’s restrictions that have put entire cities on lockdown when an infection spreads.
The demonstrations are the biggest protests the country has seen since the deadly Tiananmen Square protests in 1989.
The low vaccination rate in China, namely among old people, is a major driving force behind the strict COVID policies, NBC News reported.
According to NBC, many older people living in China have not gotten vaccinated out of fear of side effects. They also saw no reason to get the vaccine in a country that reports virtually no cases.
Only 86.4% of people in China over the age of 60 have gotten their shot, NBC News reported, compared with the US’s 93% of people 65 and older. China’s biggest problem is people aged 80 and older, however. Only 59% of that age group has received one dose of the vaccine.
Despite that, China is still refusing to approve and distribute Western vaccines to innoculate its citizens. In lieu of the Western vaccines, which are based on mRNA, China has been relying on its own brand of jabs, which rely on inactivated viruses.
Chinese vaccines have done little to curb the latest coronavirus variants, including the highly transmissible omicron variant.
Public health experts said that China’s lockdown policies only delay new waves of COVID infection, and China should use that extra time to increase vaccination as much as possible.
“It’s a really vulnerable situation for China to be in,” Jennifer Nuzzo, director of the Pandemic Center at Brown University School of Public Health said. “Unless they really use this time to protect the population through vaccination, I just don’t understand how this is going to end well.”
Source: Daily Mail