Fresh Covid-19 outbreaks in China despite 1.6 billion vaccine doses, all made-in-China


The National Health Commission (NHC) of China last week announced that more than 1.6 billion doses of Covid-19 vaccine doses were given to citizens in eligible age groups. This makes China the most-vaccinated country in the world in terms of the number of doses administered. Only made-in-China Covid-19 vaccines are given in the country.

Since the announcement, reports of multiple fresh Covid-19 outbreaks have hit China. Covid-19 has returned to Wuhan, the epicentre city from where the coronavirus pandemic spread to the entire globe. The most-affected region is reported to be Jiangsu province.

COVID-19 RETURNS TO WUHAN

China has been conservative in reporting Covid-19 cases since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak in late 2019. Reports said initial cases of Covid-19 in Wuhan were not acknowledged and put out in public domain. China apparently even delayed reporting the outbreak to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

A police officer (L) wearing protective gear explains pandemic prevention information to fight against the spread of Covid-19 to a worker at Nanjing port in China’s eastern Jiangsu province on August 4, 2021.

With that history, China on Monday officially reported three cases of Covid-19 as non-imported, a first in more than a year, for Wuhan. In response, China suspended operations of flights and trains in and out of Wuhan on Tuesday.

China also announced mass coronavirus testing in Wuhan attributing the fresh outbreak to the Delta variant that was first detected in India. The Delta variant of the SARS-CoV-2 has reached the city where the novel coronavirus was first detected in late 2019.

OTHER COVID-19 HOTSPOTS

Chinese news outlets, all controlled by the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC), on Tuesday reported 96 fresh cases of Covid-19. Of these confirmed cases of coronavirus infection, 71 were recorded as local transmission and 25 as overseas cases.

Additionally, reports quoted data from the National Health Commission to say that 27 new asymptomatic cases were recorded while 485 asymptomatic patients were under medical observation. This signals that China may not be counting asymptomatic cases of Covid-19 as confirmed ones.

Residents stand in queue to get tested for the Covid-19 in Wuhan in China’s central Hubei province.

More provinces — some reports say 11 — have reported fresh cases of Covid-19. New patients were reported from cities such as capital Beijing and China’s biggest commercial hub Shanghai. However, the official figures for these two cities are in single digits for local transmission cases.

In Jiangsu province, the outbreak started at the airport in its capital Nanjing. During contact-tracing, Chinese health authorities are said to have identified cases in 11 provinces.

CHINESE RESPONSE

Following the reports of fresh Covid-19 outbreaks in multiple regions, China has upped surveillance and mass testing for coronavirus infection. In an unusual move, China announced a reward for reporting a neighbour who could be suffering from Covid-19, and apparently hiding the illness.

A public notice was put out in some areas asking the residents to report on those who travelled to regions considered high risk for Covid-19. If the case turns out to be Covid-19 positive, the person would be cash rewarded 5,000 yuan (over Rs 57,000).

People maintain social distancing as they queue to receive nucleic acid tests for the Covid-19 in Huaian, in China’s eastern Jiangsu province on August 2, 2021.

Interestingly, if two persons report for the same neighbour, the cash reward would be given to the person reporting the matter first.

A similar strategy had been adopted by the northern China’s Zhengding county in January 2020, when the authorities announced cash reward for people who reported persons returning from Wuhan, then a live epicentre of Covid-19.

VACCINES AND COVID-19 NUMBERS

China has been an early maker and major supplier of Covid-19 vaccines. It is also among a few countries that have allowed vaccination of children. China allowed children aged 3-17 to be vaccinated in June. In official record, more than 1.6 billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines have been administered. More than 22 crore people are fully vaccinated.

Only Chinese vaccines are given in China. There have been concerns that the Chinese vaccines are less effective in preventing the spread of coronavirus infection. Some reports from China too have quoted government-affiliated scientists as saying that the Chinese vaccines are less effective against new variants of SARS-CoV-2.

Officially, with the fresh outbreaks of Covid-19, the number of confirmed cases in China reached 93,289 on Tuesday. Death toll due to Covid-19 remained unchanged at 4,636.

(Image credit: AFP)



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