Current epidemic is 'coldness in late spring:' top Shanghai expert
Shanghai will eventually achieve "zero-COVID-19" on the community level, despite the current outbreak of the epidemic, the city's top coronavirus expert said on Monday.
The rapid pace of life has gradually slowed down across the city with closed-loop management and medical screening in key areas, which will largely contain the spread of the virus, said Dr Zhang Wenhong, head of Shanghai's COVID-19 treatment team and director of the National Center for Infectious Diseases.
He described the current epidemic the most difficult period for Shanghai since the COVID-19 outbreak over two years ago, but also noted that it's the "coldness in late spring," rather than an endless winter.
"If we clearly see the road ahead and the coming of spring, what is there to be afraid of?" Zhang said on his Weibo account.
The current outbreak overwhelming the Chinese mainland, including Shanghai, and Hong Kong is caused by the Omicron BA.2 sub-variant, which is spreading rapidly, Zhang noted.
Since March, the "fast-running" BA.2 sub-lineage hit Shanghai out of blue, making the city react late and feel quite struggling, he said.
However, the prevention and control measures as well as people's confidence must be maintained, because it will be a long-term fight against the virus, he added.
Much experience has been acquired during the COVID-19 fight in Hong Kong and Shanghai. Experts from the two cities have recently reached a consensus on the future trend of the epidemic, Zhang said.
Lower death rate than influenza
The virulence of the virus has apparently reduced. According to studies in Hong Kong, people with normal immunity and boost shots, no matter what kind of vaccine, are invulnerable to the current coronavirus.
Among the 2,266 local and imported COVID-19 cases reported in Shanghai over the last six months, 94 percent of them have taken vaccines and the rate of severe illness is 0.1 percent. No critical case or death has occurred in the past half a year in Shanghai.
"It means for people with full vaccinations, the rate of severe symptoms and death has been lower than that of the influenza," Zhang said.
China will keep the "zero-COVID-19" strategy on the social level to prevent a surge of infections and protect seniors and those with other diseases who have yet to take the vaccines, Zhang said.
He said the zero-COVID-19 on the community level will surely be achieved in Shanghai. After that, the city will greatly optimize its prevention strategies:
1. Most senior citizens will take the third boost shot of vaccines;
2. Better vaccination strategy will be conducted;
3. Oral medicines for COVID-19 will be widely provided;
4. The home testing reagent will be promoted;
5. More effective layered diagnosis and treatment strategy will be launched along with better home quarantine procedures.
"We will have a complete prevention system and sufficient medical resources by then to cope with any possible massive outbreak blending imported and local cases," Zhang said.