Sohu Medicine | Academician Zhong Nanshan: Five Suggestions for China’s Orderly and Effective Reopening

Producer | Sohu Health

Author | Zhou Yichuan

Editor | Yuan Yue

< p data-track="4">Recently, the National Science Review published an editorial “Strategy for Reopening in China’s Coming COVID-19 Period” co-authored by Dr. Guan Weijie and Academician Zhong Nanshan, evaluating the current Omicron epidemic risk and recommending Suggestions for future openings.

The article pointed out that the spread of the new coronavirus has caused more than 430 million cases and 6 million deaths worldwide. Compared to other related existing variants, the Omicron variant is characterized by significantly greater infectivity (Ro ≈ 6), greater upper respiratory tract tropism, and lower infection severity in humans. These characteristics of the Omicron variant are the basis for several developed countries to consider reopening.

In the age of COVID-19, different policies have been adopted around the world. Mainland China’s dynamic community-based zeroing policy has played a key role in minimising the number of laboratory-confirmed cases and deaths. The rapid spread of vaccination, along with herd immunity, forms the basis for “full opening” in some developed countries. However, this does not necessarily justify a rapid and full opening up in mainland China. Omicron carries a higher risk of death than seasonal flu and may lead to social instability and the emergence of other novel variants that are more contagious.

In order to maintain effective disease prevention and control, my country adopts a dynamic zeroing policy. However, China needs to reopen, normalize socioeconomic development, and adapt to a global reopening. In the long run, dynamic clearing cannot be pursued for a long time. Here are five suggestions for how China can reopen in an orderly and effective manner:

I. Vaccination across the country is essential to protect herd immunity

As of February 28, 2022, 87.64% of China’s population had received at least two doses of the novel coronavirus vaccine, and 40.32% had completed the third booster dose. However, the vaccination rate of the Chinese population over the age of 70 in mainland China is still significantly lower than 83%, and the vaccination rate in Hong Kong is even lower.

Data show that more than 80% of the population received a full dose of the vaccine, and the mortality rate was significantly reduced. A third booster dose of Pfizer’s vaccine significantly increased neutralizing antibody titers against the Omicron variant; two doses of Sinovac provided protection against the Delta variant and a third dose is being studied for protection against the Omicron variant . In addition, recent trial data have demonstrated that after two doses of Sinovac vaccine, the use of Pfizer vaccine, Zhifei recombinant protein subunit vaccine, or CanSino adenovirus vaccine can significantly enhance protection against Omicron variants, and boost vaccination for xenogeneic vaccines Policy provides support.

II. Accelerating the development of drugs and neutralizing antibody therapy

Accelerating the development of antiviral drugs and potent neutralizing antibodies will Helps reduce the risk of progression to critical illness and death. In addition to Paxlovid and Molnupiravir, the therapeutic effects of drugs such as VV116 and neutralizing antibodies (BRII-196 and BRII-198) hold promise for improving clinical outcomes. Due to the limited source of patients, it will be difficult to conduct Phase III clinical studies in mainland China. Therefore, international cooperation should be encouraged.

Third, the community environment should give priority to rapid antigen detection.

In community settings, rapid antigen testing should be prioritized. Compared with nucleic acid testing, antigen testing has significantly shorter turnaround times and less reliance on medical facilities and personnel. This ensures timely identification of patients. On this basis, population-based viral nucleic acid detection and screening can be used for close contacts, especially imported cases.

Fourth, strengthen longitudinal tracking investigation of infection cases during incubation period and recovery period.

In-depth analysis of the infectivity of imported cases, including those showing re-positive test results, will provide policymakers with important information on the minimum duration of isolation and the management of post-discharge positive cases information.

V. Selecting pilot cities to adjust policies

Conduct pilot surveys in some designated cities or regions, and conduct pilot surveys according to input Policies to adjust the epidemiological characteristics of sexually transmitted cases are critical to verifying the effects of China’s transition to a safe and orderly social opening.