Global health officials and experts outside of China are anxiously watching the COVID-19 rise there, worried a country of 1.4 billion people is not fully vaccinated and may not have the healthcare tools to treat a wave of illnesses expected to kill more than a million people through 2023.
Some US and European officials are struggling to figure out how or if they can help mitigate a crisis they fear will damage the global economy, further constraining supply chains. company response and create disturbing new coronavirus variants.
“We’ve made it clear that we’re willing to help in any way they can accept,” said National Security Council spokesman John Kirby.
Health experts from countries outside China, who have been grappling with their own wave of COVID, say it’s important to prepare the health care system in advance, collect accurate data, and share Sharing as well as open communication are both important to combat the mass spread of coronavirus. Many of those elements appear to be lacking in China, they said.
President Xi Jinping has long asserted that the country’s one-party system is best suited to handle the epidemic and that China’s vaccines are superior to Western vaccines, though there is some evidence opposite evidence.
Democratic governments find themselves in a diplomatic predicament, wanting to help avert a growing crisis with global and domestic health and economic implications in the same way that the Chinese government Nation may be willing to accept.
“China’s vaccine nationalism is tied to Xi’s pride, and accepting Western help not only embarrass Xi, but also pierces the often-propaganda narrative of Xi. him that China’s governance model is superior,” said Craig Singleton, deputy director of the China program at the World Health Research Institute. Foundation Defending Democracies.
European and U.S. officials are conducting careful behind-the-scenes talks with their Chinese counterparts, and are releasing deliberately worded public statements to make it clear that the ball is in Beijing courtyard.
Washington and Beijing officials discussed how to handle COVID earlier this month during talks in China in preparation for the visit of Secretary of State Antony Blinken early next year, the US national security adviser. United Jake Sullivan said last week. He declined to provide details, citing “sensitive diplomatic channels”.
One potential area of Western support concerns whether China will accept BioNTech’s updated mRNA vaccine designed to target Omicron-associated virus variants currently circulating. which many experts believe is more effective than the Chinese vaccine.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz discussed the issue during a visit to Beijing last month along with BioNTech CEO Ugur Sahin.
However, the United States and other Western countries do not openly encourage China to accept Western-made mRNA vaccines, the White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr Ashish Jha told reporters on Wednesday. Five. “We are ready to help any country in the world with vaccines, treatments, anything else we can help,” he said.
Beijing has said that “institutional advantages” will help it get through the epidemic without foreign help, and China’s COVID death toll is still lower than 1.1 million. deaths in the United States and 2.1 million in Europe.
(Graphic: Living with a virus? – https://tmsnrt.rs/3EVggMi)
However, US drugmaker Pfizer last week reached an agreement to export the COVID-19 drug Paxlovid to China through a local company, saying it was working with all stakeholders. to ensure an adequate supply.
“Whether China asks for it or not, as a citizen of Beijing, I welcome the attitude of the US government,” said Hu Xijin, a former editor of the party tabloid Global Times. demand, said on Twitter, adding that he hopes the US government will push Pfizer to lower the price of Paxlovid.
The rivalry between the United States and China, the world’s two largest economies, has intensified in recent months, with the Biden administration trying to crack down on China’s semiconductor sector and push Beijing to the ground. out politically in Asia and Africa.
President Joe Biden has described the global political situation as an inflection point between democracy and autocracy.
But the two countries remain deeply intertwined, with China being America’s largest trading partner and a top customer for many American companies.
“We want China to get it right about COVID,” Blinken said earlier this month. “It’s first and foremost for the benefit of the Chinese people, but it’s also for the benefit of people around the world.”
Luxury companies with China exposure such as France-based LVMH and industrial indexes have recently traded lower on COVID concerns and Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell has signaled worries his last week.
“China faces a very challenging system in reopening,” Mr. Powell said, adding that its production, export and supply chains remained critical. “It’s a risky situation.”
Medical experts outside of China are desperate that it may be too late to avert a tragedy.
“What would you do with a Category 5 hurricane when it’s been offshore for an hour and a half? If you haven’t done that,” said Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of California. It’s too late now.” University of Minnesota.
“This pandemic will blow over (China) in the next few weeks,” he said. “Unfortunately they didn’t think about this six or 10 months ago. They could have bought time for a better position.”
More than 160 million people in China are thought to have diabetes, and there are 8 million Chinese over the age of 80 who are unvaccinated, said Yanzhong Huang, senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations. . Those are risk factors for severe COVID.
“South Korea, which has the lowest COVID death rate of any major country, has managed the pandemic by vaccinating as many people as possible,” said Dr. Jerome Kim, the director. , secure hospitals before reopening and inform the public about the disease. director of the International Vaccine Institute based in Seoul.
He said officials have set up health centers and apps to teach people with symptoms how to avoid infecting others.
“Is it set up in China now? We don’t know.”
(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from an aggregated feed.)
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