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Keep broader picture of virus fight in mind: China Daily editorial

chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2022-11-27 19:56

Residents line up to take the nucleic acid tests in Beijing on Nov 23, 2022. [Photo/IC]

After fighting with the novel coronavirus for three years, the world has not yet seen the light at the end of the tunnel. During that time the virus has mutated and become less lethal, and since effective vaccines have become more readily available, some countries have opted to live with the virus seeking herd immunity.

Yet the disease still remains a grave threat to the public, particularly the aged, those with serious underlying health conditions and the unvaccinated, as the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention pointed out last week.

Although the virus may be less deadly to the young and healthy, it is more contagious, and the Chinese mainland has a huge aged population. There are nearly 200 million people aged 60 and above, which is more than that of all developed economies put together. The mainland's health system is also less developed than those in the developed countries and its medical resources are unevenly distributed. That is why China has chosen to continue to stick to its stringent COVID-19 prevention and control policy.

Since the stake on the part of China in this war against the virus is much larger, and its medical care conditions are observably weaker, it has resorted to strict virus control policies to cut the transmission chains as quickly as possible. This necessitates contacts of any confirmed cases being traced and put under home or collective quarantine for medical observation and necessary treatment depending on their respective conditions.

The recent resurgence of the virus in late October and the rising number of infections in many places in the country, including Beijing, have spurred local authorities to act promptly. However, with pandemic fatigue evident among some residents after three years, the implementation of the same tactics that won their praise and full support previously are now being called into question by some of them.

But each country's response to the pandemic comes with costs. The inconvenience caused in the local battle with the virus should be considered in the context of the bigger picture.

For instance, the number of infections in the US has hit 98.3 million, and the death toll in the country attributable to COVID-19 was 1.09 million as of Sunday.

Although the population of the Chinese mainland is about 4.5 times that of the US, and its per capita gross domestic product — an important indicator for public health spending — is less than one-fourth, the total number of infections on the mainland is 1.45 million and the total number of deaths 5,232.

The dynamic clearing policy is aimed at saving as many lives as possible. That is the overriding goal. But to try and strike a balance between that and maintaining economic activities and ensuring people's livelihoods, attempts are being made to fine-tune the approach in light of current conditions.

With the unfolding adjustments to the dynamic clearing policy, the virus control measures are becoming better targeted and efficient, and as those applying them become more adept at implementing them, they should become less wearing on society.

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