China's COVID Response: Fact check on optimization of epidemic control

2023-January-16 13:28 By:

Claim: China is unprepared for adjusting epidemic control measures.

Fact: China decided to enter a new phase of COVID response of optimizing prevention and control measures based on science, taking into account the development of the epidemic, increase in vaccination levels, and extensive epidemic prevention experience.

China's COVID Response: Fact check on optimization of epidemic control

1) Omicron had become less deadly

In recent months, China made an array of active adjustments in its COVID response, transiting from the 20 measures in November to 10 new measures in December, changing the Chinese name of COVID-19 from "novel coronavirus pneumonia" to "novel coronavirus infection," and downgrading COVID-19 management measures.

These adjustments were made based on scientific evaluations of the Omicron variant which showed that the virus had become less deadly, and the social cost of sustaining the prevailing epidemic control had rapidly increased.

After fighting Omicron for nearly a whole year, China has gained a profound understanding of the variant.

The treatment and control experiences of multiple Chinese cities and foreign countries revealed that the great majority of patients infected with the Omicron variant had shown either no or mild symptoms -- with a very small proportion developing into severe cases.

Compared with the original strain and other variants, the Omicron strains are becoming milder in terms of pathogenicity, and the impact of the virus is changing into something more like a regular seasonal infectious disease.

Continuous study of the development of the virus has been an important precondition for China’s optimization of its containment protocols.

2) Over 90% of the population fully vaccinated

By the middle of December 2022, more than 3.47 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses had been administered on the Chinese mainland, with over 90 percent of the population fully vaccinated. A total of 86.6 percent of people aged 60 or above had been fully vaccinated and the rate among people aged 80 or older was 66.4 percent. China also vowed to further ramp up vaccination for the elderly.

3) Increased capacity of health care system

Amid China’s efforts to improve its preparedness, authorities had urged hospitals of various levels to ensure that fever clinics are available to patients in need.

As of December 25, 2022, the number of fever clinics in second-grade hospitals and above had reached 16,000 in China, and the number of such clinics in grassroots medical institutions totaled 41,000.

The total number of beds in second-grade medical institutions and above in China is almost 5.62 million, and their utilization rate has fluctuated around 60 percent recently. The total number of intensive care beds in China has reached 150,000, meaning there are 10.6 beds per 100,000 people. The country has a reserve of 70,000 adaptable intensive care units.

As for the equipment for COVID-19 treatment, there were 151,100 hemodialysis units, 19,700 continuous renal replacement therapy units, 2,300 extracorporeal membrane oxygenation machines, and over 192,000 invasive and non-invasive respirators in second-grade hospitals and above as of December 2022.

China is one of the largest producers of fever medicines. The daily output of ibuprofen and acetaminophen, two key antipyretic analgesics, is rapidly increasing, with both daily production and supply improving more than fourfold at the end of December 2022 compared to the beginning of the month. The daily output of ibuprofen and acetaminophen reached 202 million tablets and 190 million tablets, respectively, by the end of 2022.

A multi-pronged approach has been adopted to meet people’s needs for drugs. Speeding up the review of much-needed medical products, the National Medical Products Administration had, as of December 20, granted marketing authorization to 11 drugs for COVID-19 treatment.

The focus of China’s new phase of COVID-19 response is on protecting people’s health and preventing severe cases. From coordinating medical resources to increasing the capacity of hospitals to receive severe cases, hospitals across the country have been operating in full swing and devoting more resources to the treatment of severe cases.

Editor: JYZ
More from Guangming Online


The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author's, makes no representations as to accuracy, suitability, or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information.