Nutrition articles

Special collection of articles sheds light on China’s response to covid-19

Today, BMJ launches a special collection of articles on China’s response to covid-19 – what it was, how it worked, why traditional public health measures have played such a vital role, and how other countries can benefit lessons from this experience to protect their populations, especially in future pandemics.

China was the first country reported to be affected by covid-19 and sparked worldwide interest as it struggled to understand and contain a new pathogen. But China only reported 0.05% of the total number of cases globally despite making up 19% of the world’s population.

China mobilized quickly and within two months it had contained and eliminated local infections in the country. A new collection of articles written by people involved in the response sheds light on China’s experience and makes policy recommendations.

The collection will be launched at a special event on December 4, 2021 at the Public Health Challenges and Opportunities after covid-19 – Symposium on System Construction of Disease Prevention and Control.

Du Bin and colleagues analyze China’s early response and the role of China’s central coordinated national campaign, rapid mobilization of 42,000 healthcare workers in Wuhan, effective local coordination and resource allocation health care, and rapid capacity building for general and critical infectious disease care.

“New technologies have helped a lot. For example, rapid nucleic acid tests have helped diagnose patients at an early stage, detect asymptomatic infections, and assess the potential risk to the general population. Cell phones were used to find and manage close contacts, ”they write. “Given the high prevalence of asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infections, and the possibility of covert long-distance transmission via cold chain logistics, containment would not have been possible without these new technologies. “

The authors explain that the recent experience of successfully containing a highly infectious disease is limited, especially when hundreds of thousands of people are infected and require urgent medical assistance as has happened in Wuhan, the epicenter of origin of the epidemic in China.

But they warn that successful lockdown has also made the Chinese population almost entirely vulnerable, and therefore suggest the country must persist with strict public health measures until the population’s immunity is established through vaccination.

As such, they call for the sharing of information on how the elimination of an emerging disease with pandemic potential is possible using only non-pharmaceutical interventions. They believe this would be of crucial importance when the next emerging infectious disease with pandemic potential strikes and argue that with joint international efforts, such epidemics can and should be contained locally in order to avoid catastrophic consequences worldwide. .

The collection of 11 papers explores several key dimensions of China’s response to covid-19, including its testing and vaccination strategies, containment methods, and the role of pandemic modeling and surveillance.

This special collection of articles written by eminent experts documents China’s response, which has aroused such fascination around the world. We hear firsthand how this response has helped control SARS-CoV-2 and offers a model for other countries seeking to emulate China’s strategy. There are many lessons in these articles, and the most striking themes are how essential old-fashioned public health and modern technology were to China’s success, but there remains a strong need for it. global collaboration in this pandemic and in the future. ”

Dr Kamran Abbasi, Editor-in-Chief, BMJ