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Global Times

Herd immunity to be achieved through mass vaccination over one to two years: top experts

Global Times

Source: Global Times Published: 2020/9/18 17:46:00

Top Chinese disease experts said the COVID-19 pandemic is very likely to continue to spread throughout the spring months and herd immunity should be achieved through world-wide vaccination.

On Friday, China's renowned respiratory disease expert Zhong Nanshan attended a Beijing-based forum on science and health through livestreaming, and stressed that if another domestic outbreak emerged, China will continue to take joint prevention and control measures at the community level, wide-ranging nucleic acid screening, tracing close contacts and isolating asymptomatic patients with positive nucleic acid results.

COVID-19 patients are most infectious five days before and after the onset of symptoms, with high fatality rates in severely ill patients, said Zhong, noting the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to continue this winter and next spring.

In the absence of any intervention, COVID-19 would likely affect 60-70 percent of the global population, 6.95 percent of which would die, said Zhong, adding that herd immunity should be achieved through mass vaccination, which will take about one or two years and require global cooperation.

China's top vaccine researcher Chen Wei attended the forum on site, emphasizing that vaccines are one of the most powerful scientific and technological weapons in curbing the pandemic.

According to Chen, the current coronavirus mutations have little impact on vaccine research and development. And China is about to launch a larger clinical trial of a vaccine for people over 55 years old.

Chen noted that there are 182 COVID-19 vaccine candidates, of which 36 are in clinical trials and nine are in phase-III clinical trials, citing data from the World Health Organization (WHO).

If even one country has the virus, the entire world's immunity cannot be guaranteed. Therefore, we still have a long way to go, and we will work hard to do it well, said Chen.

On September 8, Chinese President Xi Jinping presented a national medal to Zhong and honorary titles to Chen and two other experts for their outstanding contribution in the fight against the COVID-19 epidemic.

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