Keep virus prevention and control system despite vaccine progress: Global Times editorial

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Source: Global Times

A boy looks at Sinovac Biotech LTD’s vaccine candidate for COVID-19 on display at the China International Fair for Trade in Services (CIFTIS) in Beijing. Photo: AFP

The city of Yiwu and other cities in East China’s Zhejiang Province have expanded the scope of offering COVID-19 vaccines for urgent use, with priority being given to key groups. This cannot be regarded as Zhejiang already having carried out vaccination of the whole province’s population, and that it is the first Chinese province to do so. But it is true that vaccine research and development have made steady progress in China, and Zhejiang is at the forefront.

Western public opinion always looks at China’s vaccine development from a geopolitical perspective. Before, they hyped China’s so-called mask diplomacy, and now they are talking about “vaccine diplomacy.” We believe these descriptions only reflect their own psychology. For them, the COVID-19 fight is first of all a contest, and it is more of a geopolitical contest.

China has publicly stated that once the vaccine is available, it will become a global public good. If China’s vaccines have any so-called political significance, they will impact the US’ attempts to use vaccines as a tool of pressuring and gaining profits from other countries. China’s vaccines will safeguard the common interests of humanity.

For China, fighting the epidemic is an issue of public health. It should never be one of international politics. The US has thoroughly politicized the COVID-19 fight and divided international society which should have jointly faced and fought against the virus. We feel surprised that the US did not concentrate on fighting COVID-19 but instead launched a witch hunt in human society. It is hard for us to understand or accept the US political system’s extreme need to shirk responsibility.

It must be said that capitalist countries have too many profit calculations on public affairs. This is probably a habit due to their systems’ full release of human weakness.

China’s current need for vaccines is not as urgent as that of the US since Chinese society has been very successful and effective in containing the epidemic.

Even if the vaccine is available to the public, many Chinese would hesitate to vaccinate because they are far away from the coronavirus in real life, and they would feel that wearing a mask in crowded places is more beneficial to their overall safety than getting vaccinated by the newly developed vaccine.

Indeed, China, as a country that suffered losses in the early stage of the epidemic, is also a country with a large population, extensive trade and other international contacts. Without the protection of vaccines, it is absolutely unsafe in the long run. That China is leading the world in vaccine development will serve to enhance the health and safety of its own people while benefiting the world. We have worked hard on this. But if the US makes a breakthrough in vaccine development, we will not be jealous or accuse the US of having ulterior motives for its achievements.

In the long-term world view, the COVID-19 vaccine faces a virus which is too strong. It is bound to be hard to have herd immunity across the world. But a reliable vaccine will come out eventually and help humanity increase their effectiveness in fighting the virus. In this process, many countries are fighting separately, failing to form a highly united front. This will increasingly drag out the fight against the virus. Cross infection in humans may promote variations of the virus, making it difficult for us to completely eradicate the virus even with a vaccine’s help.

In this context, China must persist with the national mobilization that has proven highly effective in blocking the spread of the virus. The current prevention and control system should never be relaxed, despite the steady progress of vaccine development. The effectiveness of the vaccine should be gradually verified during the vaccination of all humanity. Being effective in a limited sphere can only be seen as relatively fruitful.

Some countries have almost been invaded by COVID-19. A vaccine is their only hope. China should pursue a strategy of “double insurance” in this regard – putting the virus under control with existing prevention systems while further reducing the risk of infection for frontline medical workers with vaccination. China should manage to keep being the safest country in the world.

The comprehensive achievements of the COVID-19 fight have greatly improved Chinese people’s confidence in their country. It is believed that many people are inclined to follow their government’s guidance about when the vaccination can be universally available. For Chinese people, this is a serious public health issue rather than anything else.

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