Focus topics

Zero-Covid remains a dilemma

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  • Looking back, China’s health officials are still proud of the achievements they have made in countering the covid pandemic, in terms of the accumulated number of infected people and deaths. However, the important question is how China will get through the current phase of the pandemic and what the end game looks like for the country.​
  • In a rare move, medical experts and officials of the National Health Committee (NHC) and China CDC have highlighted China’s weakness and laid out the conditions for possible relaxation of covid-related restrictions.​
  • Necessary conditions include the buildup of treatment capacity to prevent over-crowding of hospital resources, new drug R&D and production, and most importantly, enhancing the ratio of the vaccinated population, especially among the elderly population.​
  • NHC disclosed that till Oct 12, 86.3 percent of the 60y+ age group have completed full vaccination, slightly lower than the vaccination level for the same age group in Germany (90.0 percent). However, only 67.2 percent of the 60y+ age group in China have taken the booster, compared with 84.9 percent in Germany.
  • The low vaccination rate among the elderly would create huge challenges for China’s medical system if covid restrictions were relaxed now, crowding out necessary resources for other treatments and generating high excess death. This will become a high political debt for Xi, who used the zero-Covid policy as an important political asset previously.​
  • Therefore, Liang Wannian, the director of the Covid Pandemic Response Group, rejected rumors that the restrictions will be removed after the “Two Sessions” in March 2023, rather stating that the timing of relaxation will be determined on “scientific” grounds.​
  • Sinolytics forecasts that zero-Covid will remain in the short term and cause continuous damage to China’s economic resilience in the coming months.​

Sinolytics is a European consulting and analysis company specializing in China. It advises European companies on their strategic orientation and concrete business activities in the People’s Republic.


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