What the Rest of the World Can Learn from the Chinese Response to the Pandemic

Despite improved global health systems, advances in public health, and improved funding in healthcare, infectious diseases remain a persistent and enduring threat in the 21st century. We’re still confronted with both old and new pathogens.

Coronavirus Vaccine

Coronavirus Vaccine

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The limitations of infectious disease control became evident in 2020 following the COVID-19 pandemic. SARS-CoV-2 is responsible for the deaths of over 5 million people worldwide. The disease has defied most methods of disease control known to man. In the background of our failure to combat COVID-19 effectively and in anticipation of emerging threats, innovative methods of disease control become imperative.

What are the reasons for COVID-19’s rapid spread?

  1. Slow global response: A WHO independent panel set up to monitor pandemic preparedness and response concluded that the “alert system was slow, the World Health Organization was underpowered and global political leadership was absent in the wake of the pandemic”. The degree of alertness, and speed to declare a global emergency was sluggish and disjointed.
  2. Globalization: Interconnectivity, international travel, and global trade make physical contact and transnational movement more feasible and rapid. This means that infected individuals in one part of the world become disease carriers and pseudo vectors transmitting to distant parts of the world, at a rate exponentially greater than that obtained in a system of reduced interconnectivity.
  3. Increased virulence: Indices suggest that that the virulence of SARS COV-2 surpassed SARS and MERS in both numbers of infected people and the spatial range of the epidemic areas. This is indicative of increased transmissibility of the novel virus and may well be responsible for its pandemic level distribution.
  4. Public lack of cooperation: A seeming lack of willingness on the part of the public to adhere to COVID-19 safety protocols enhanced its spread. In several parts, overcrowding remained persistent, poor usage of nose masks,  improper hygiene, and general doubt of the existence of the pandemic by the populace triggered its over-the-charts spread.

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The above shows that the biggest pandemic in the most advanced era of man’s history met a largely unprepared world. One nation stands out with regards to effective COVID-19 response; China.

The Chinese template

China’s history of combating coronaviruses came in handy with its management of SARS COV-2 Following the 2002 pandemic which resulted in over 8000 infected and 774 deaths this may have taught the Chinese a lesson on more effective ways to combat airborne viruses. Just like post-2002 China, the world has learned the hard way, the effect of a slow ineffective response to pneumonia-like viruses. So, what did China do right?

  1. Epidemic response: The swiftness of the Chinese government to respond to the epidemic was evident. The Chinese government rapidly closed the Wuhan meat market just weeks after the first case reporting in the contrast to global response which banned flights from China weeks later.
  2. China’s advanced diagnostic methods and rapid genomic sequencing played a key role in developing faster diagnostic methods. A major global drive in improved genomic sequencing and data analysis in various epidemic alert zones situated worldwide would be necessary if future diseases are to be rapidly diagnosed and controlled.
  3. Technology: China’s application of smartphone apps for efficient tracking and contact tracing, 5G-powered robots for city-wide disinfection, and mechanized electronic assistants amplified China’s disease control measures by improving efficiency through technology.
  4. Strict lockdowns: China’s enforcement of a city-wide lockdown of Wuhan in January 2020 isolated the city and ultimately sealed it from the rest of the country. The enforcement of this was made possible by strict measures instituted by the pseudo-autocratic state, keeping people indoors and isolating the city by force.
  5. Rapid vaccination programs: As of October 24, 2021, China had administered about 2.25 billion doses of  COVID-19 vaccines, whereas about 6.87 billion doses of the vaccine had been applied worldwide. In October 2021 over 50 countries hadn’t met the 10% vaccine target set by the World Health Organization, the bulk of these being low-income countries. Special programs aimed at income generation should be targeted towards low-income countries for future efficient disease control response and vaccination.

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final thoughts

Although China faces risks of imported COVID-19 cases and resurgence, her effective disease control measures (especially vaccination programs) may be the long-term solution to the disease. China is currently one of the most vaccinated countries in the world. Epidemiological analysis reveals a consistent steady decline in the number of reported cases and deaths, indicative of the fact that her disease control measures are evidently effective. These measures weren’t built overnight but are the result of painstaking efforts and consistent commitment by an ingenious people group, with a long history of deadly epidemics. China’s success in containing the COVID-19 pandemic is a lesson to the world.

Read Also: Study Shows That Even When Vaccinated People Can Still Get Infected with the Coronavirus

References

Covid-19: Global response was too slow and leadership absent, report finds | The BMJ

Characteristics of SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 | Nature Reviews Microbiology

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