On April 6, COVID-19 experts Zhong Nanshan and Guang Weijie published an article in the National Science Review entitled Strategies for Reopening in the Forthcoming COVID-19 Era in China.
The article was translated from English to Chinese and reported on the Chinese mainland (but subsequently removed). An article covering the story is still available via Hong Kong-based media outlet South China Morning Post.
The cover of the national science review. Image via National Science Review
Zhong and Guang's paper outlines five recommendations in order for China to safely open the country, stating that: “China needs to reopen so as to normalize socio-economic development and adapt to global reopening. Prolonged dynamic zeroing cannot be pursued in the long run.”
Zhong and Guang begin the report by outlining the risks of the acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2), which causes COVID-19. They highlight that the omicron variant carries a “considerably higher mortality risk than seasonal influenza.” Therefore, a rapid opening-up policy could lead to social instability and other COVID-19 variants.
Vaccinations and Herd Immunity
Image via Weibo@美通社资讯
The first recommendation in the report calls for nationwide vaccinations, which will lead to herd immunity. Zhong has previously vocalized the importance of herd immunity in order for the country to reopen its borders.
As of February 28, 2022, China had vaccinated almost 88% of the population, with 40% having taken a third dose. The report states that those fully vaccinated against COVID-19 lead to a “markedly reduced mortality rate.”
In January, Zhong said that with 83% of the country vaccinated, China had built a “certain level of herd immunity.”
COVID-19 Medicine and Antibodies
Image via Wikimedia
Second, Zhong and Guang touch upon the benefit of targeted medicines and potent neutralizing antibodies for treating COVID-19. They go on to mention that this area would benefit from accelerated research, but a limited number of patients for studies in the Chinese mainland could prove a challenge. Therefore, international collaboration is encouraged.
READ MORE: China’s New COVID-19 Drug Ready For Use
Rapid Anitgen Tests
Image via Flickr@Marco Verch Professional Photographer
The report argues that Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) should be prioritized in community settings.
Not only do they reduce the burden on medical facilities and personnel, but they also ensure “timely identification of the source patient, on which basis population-based screening with viral nucleic acid testing can be reserved for close contacts.”
RATs are currently being used across Shanghai as the city remains in lockdown, and were rolled out in some areas of Guangzhou in April.
Image via Pixabay
The penultimate recommendation calls for a strengthening of the length of follow-up investigations for positive cases. This will allow accurate decisions to be made on the duration of quarantine periods.
Image via Weibo@北京晚报
The fifth and final suggestion is for pilot investigations to be trialed in cities and regions within China, and that policies should be adjusted “according to the epidemic characteristics of imported cases.”
Zhong and Guang argue that this will be important in determining the outcomes of a transition towards a “safe and orderly social reopening in China.”
In March, That’s published an article outlining four signs that China is preparing to open its borders. While we are by no means COVID-19 experts, nor as smart as Zhong Nanshan and co, several of the points mentioned in his report were also put forward by us.
READ MORE: 4 Signs That China May Soon Open Its Borders
[Cover image via Twitter@Zhang Meifang张美芳]