Dr. Zhang Wenhong, head of Shanghai's COVID-19 treatment team and director of the National Center for Infectious Diseases, has declared “The dawn of our victory over the pandemic has appeared.”
Zhang’s proclamation came on Monday, as he released a study showing a booster shot of the COVID-19 vaccine can reduce the rate of severe illness to 0.1%, reports Shine.
The study was the result of his team’s analysis of 2,266 local and imported COVID-19 cases reported in Shanghai over the last six months.
“Even after taking two jabs of the vaccine, there is still a possibility of suffering serious illness and the need for oxygen inhalation,” Zhang said of the findings, adding that “the booster shot of the vaccine can further reduce the rate of severe illness to 0.1% and avoid dangerous symptoms.”
That 0.1% is an important figure. Back in December 2021, Zhong Nanshan, China's leading COVID-19 expert, outlined two conditions the country needs to meet and maintain in order for an opening of the country’s borders.
The first requirement is that deaths from COVID-19 need to fall to a rate of 0.1%.
Zhang Wenhong’s team’s conclusions have been verified by joint studies with Hong Kong medical teams, amid the ongoing COVID-19 resurgence in the special administrative region.
Of the 1,561 deaths in Hong Kong during the city's latest outbreak, the death rate was just 0.04% among patients with two jabs of the vaccine, compared with 1.25% among those without vaccination.
Zhong Nanshan’s second requirement for opening of borders was that the virus’ reproduction rate needs to be within 1 to 1.5. A virus’ reproduction rate is a measure of how many people one patient can infect.
For these specific requirements to be met it is estimated that China will need its population to reach herd immunity. Herd immunity is defined as having 80 to 85% of the population vaccinated against COVID-19.
In January, Zhong said that, with 83% of the country vaccinated, China has built a certain level of herd immunity. And, as of press time, the country has 87% of the population vaccinated.
“The target is to prevent the virus from becoming life-threatening while maintaining normal life,” concluded Zhang Wenhong, advocating the wider promotion of booster shots, an optimized vaccination strategy and antiviral drugs as the path to achieving this goal.
READ MORE: 4 Signs That China May Soon Open Its Borders
[Cover image via Weibo@凤凰新闻客户端]