Home Covid News and Updates China’s zero-Covid strategy ‘won’t work’ against omicron: U.S. epidemiologist

China’s zero-Covid strategy ‘won’t work’ against omicron: U.S. epidemiologist

by Pragati Singh

According to a US epidemiologist, China’s stringent zero-Covid strategy will not be able to stop the spread of the extremely infectious omicron strain.

Beijing may not be able to use the same “authoritarian approaches” against omicron because the variant is unlike the others, Dr. Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, said on Friday.

“Trying to stop omicron is kind of like trying to stop the wind,” he told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia.”

China is “uniquely at risk” to omicron, Osterholm said, for a combination of reasons: Early studies suggest its Sinovac and Sinopharm vaccines are “not very effective” against the variant, and at the same time China’s success at preventing the spread of Covid so far means it has a very large population that remains vulnerable.

According to U.S.-based consultancy Eurasia Group, China’s zero-Covid policy ranks among the top risks for 2022.

While the approach “looked incredibly successful in 2020,” it has now “become a fight against a much more transmissible variant with broader lockdowns and vaccines with limited effectiveness,” Eurasia said in a January report.

Sticking with the strict measures also could lead to more economic disruption, it added.

“China’s policy will fail to contain infections, leading to larger outbreaks, requiring in turn more severe lockdowns. This will in turn lead to greater economic disruptions, more state intervention,” the report said.


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