How China Can Be Prepared For Potential Re-Emergence Of COVID-19 – Analysis


By Zhao Zhijiang

China has relaxed its COVID-19 control for almost half a year, and after experiencing a large-scale infection in the initial stage, the situation seems to have stabilized. Many places no longer require people to wear masks, and people can travel without inspection or interception. However, recent reports of re-infection have emerged in multiple areas. This indicates that the pandemic has not disappeared and instead can make a comeback at any time. ANBOUND’s researchers believe that the COVID-19 pandemic will not really end, and indeed it will emerge again in the spring and autumn seasons. China will face enormous pressure this autumn, and if it does not make early preparation, policy-wise it will encounter numerous difficulties.

Half a year has passed, and the COVID-19 antibodies of most people who contracted the virus during the winter are rapidly declining. Even if someone has previously contracted the virus, there is no guarantee that they would not be re-infected. Data shows that if the virus mutates, reinfection may slowly emerge after six months. Generally, the scale of such re-infection is not large, but if the next wave of the virus mutates and effectively breaks through the immune barrier formed by the body to fight the previous wave, a second wave of infections will occur. The focus for China, therefore, should be on vulnerable groups, continuously monitoring and preparing for medication reserves, and responding quickly to the arrival of any mutated variants.

It is not entirely accurate to say that the initial wave of the COVID-19 outbreak after China relaxes its policy has now ended. The real problem and greatest risk lie in the future, especially during the spring and autumn seasons, and especially in late autumn. The outbreaks may return, possibly caused by a mutated strain. There will be no end to this pandemic, and battles will be constantly fought.

For China, there are two things that must be done to truly address the issue of COVID-19, one is effective medications for treatment, and the other is an effective vaccine. However, there are still areas where the country needs to make breakthroughs in these two aspects. Firstly, while many Chinese vaccines have been developed in the past, they have obviously not been particularly effective, as the development of the outbreaks has fully demonstrated. Secondly, for medications, it is still questionable if the treatments can have a clear targeting of the virus and can quickly alleviate symptoms and significantly reduce the mortality rate. China has neither truly effective vaccines nor medications for treatment. The biggest problem now lies in the ability of technology. Under such a situation, the future mutated strains pose a very big risk to the country. China will remain at high risk from the COVID-19 pandemic without effective vaccines and medications, and it will be challenging to cope with the virus after mutation during the autumn and winter of this year. Once a massive outbreak occurs, whether to implement past control policies or to require social endurance and rely on natural immunity to overcome difficulties will be a major test.

The expression “the end of the COVID-19 outbreaks” is not an accurate one, as it remains to be observed the situation further. The risk of the pandemic still exists, and with only four months until autumn, China has little time to prepare.

Final analysis conclusion:

Throughout history, humanity has always coexisted with viruses, and viruses have never truly disappeared, including the novel coronavirus. The two truly effective ways to deal with it are medications and vaccines. For China, the only sole means to minimize the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic before the arrival of this year’s autumn is to focus on these two aspects.

*Zhao Zhijiang is a researcher at ANBOUND


Anbound Consulting (Anbound) is an independent Think Tank with the headquarter based in Beijing. Established in 1993, Anbound specializes in public policy research, and enjoys a professional reputation in the areas of strategic forecasting, policy solutions and risk analysis. Anbound's research findings are widely recognized and create a deep interest within public media, academics and experts who are also providing consulting service to the State Council of China.

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