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Coronavirus Update: China’s zero-COVID strategy makes no sense and its homegrown vaccines are not ‘particularly effective,’ says Fauci


Widespread protests across China over the government’s zero-COVID policy dominated pandemic headlines Monday, with Anthony Fauci, President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, weighing in with the view that the strategy does not make public-health sense. 

China’s biggest challenge is low vaccination rates — and a vaccine that has not been “particularly effective at all” compared with the ones being used in the West that are made by Pfizer

and its German partner BioNTech 

and by Moderna
said Fauci, who is retiring next month.

Fauci recalled that when New York hospitals were overwhelmed by COVID cases three years ago, the decision was made to introduce restrictions, such as social distancing and shutdowns, to help flatten the curve of infections. But he noted that it was a temporary move aimed at buying time to get more people vaccinated and move personal protective equipment to where it was needed.

The first vaccine was distributed in the U.S. in December 2020.

Read: U.S. stock futures fall as Chinese protests rattle markets, oil hits 2022 low

“It seems that in China, it was just a very, very strict, extraordinary lockdown where you lock people in the house, but without, seemingly, any endgame to it,” said Fauci, who is also head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. 

Fauci said one mistake the Chinese government has made is to refuse outside vaccines. “But also, interestingly, they did not, for reasons that I don’t fully appreciate, protect the elderly by making sure the elderly got vaccinated,” he said. “So if you look at the prevalence of vaccinations among the elderly, that was almost counterproductive. The people you really needed to protect were not getting protected.”

The protests have roiled financial markets and caused oil prices to erase their entire year-to-date gain. In a highly unusual move, protesters in Shanghai called for China’s powerful leader Xi Jinping to resign, an unprecedented rebuke as authorities in at least eight cities struggled Sunday to suppress demonstrations that represent a rare direct challenge to the ruling Communist Party, as the Associated Press reported.

The BBC said reporter Ed Lawrence, who was arrested while covering protests, was beaten and kicked by police while in custody.

“We have had no explanation or apology from the Chinese authorities, beyond a claim by the officials who later released him that they had arrested him for his own good in case he caught COVID from the crowd,” the broadcaster said in a statement. “We do not consider this a credible explanation.”

For more, see: BBC says official explanation for journalist arrest in China is that he was detained to prevent contraction of COVID

See also: China protests are biggest threat to Communist Party rule since Tiananmen Square, Kyle Bass says

In a rare show of defiance, crowds in China gathered for a third night as protests against COVID restrictions spread to Beijing, Shanghai and other cities. People held blank sheets of paper, symbolizing censorship, and demanded that the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, step down. Photo: Noel Celis/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

In the U.S., known cases of COVID are rising again with the daily average standing at 41,997 on Sunday, according to a New York Times tracker, up 6% from two weeks ago.

Cases are currently rising in 22 states, plus Washington, D.C., and Guam, but are falling elsewhere.

The daily average for hospitalizations is up 4% to 29,053. Hospitalizations are rising in 23 states, the tracker shows.

The daily average for deaths is up 4% to 330.

Coronavirus Update: MarketWatch’s daily roundup has been curating and reporting all the latest developments every weekday since the coronavirus pandemic began

Other COVID-19 news you should know about:

• The World Health Organization said Monday it is recommending the term “mpox” as a new name for monkeypox disease and that it would use both names for a year while “monkeypox” is phased out. “When the outbreak of monkeypox expanded earlier this year, racist and stigmatizing language online, in other settings and in some communities was observed and reported to WHO,” the agency said in a statement. “In several meetings, public and private, a number of individuals and countries raised concerns and asked WHO to propose a way forward to change the name.” The WHO has responsibility for assigning names to new — and exceptionally, to existing — diseases, under the International Classification of Diseases and the WHO Family of International Health Related Classifications through a consultative process that includes WHO member states, it explained. The new name was decided upon following consultations with global experts, it said. 

Residents in Shanghai received the world’s first inhaled COVID-19 vaccine by taking sips from a cup. WSJ’s Dan Strumpf explains how the new type of vaccine works and what it means for China’s reopening. Photo: Associated Press/Shanghai Media Group

• Unrest at one of China’s biggest manufacturing centers may cause a production shortfall this year of possibly 6 million Apple iPhone Pros, according to a source cited by Bloomberg. The Foxconn Technology 2354 facility in Zhengzhou, which makes the majority of Apple’s premium phones, has been struggling for weeks as workers rebel against COVID lockdown policies. Apple 

recently lowered its overall production target from 90 million units to 87 million units. However, Foxconn believes it can make up any shortfall from Zhengzhou in 2023.

• A blood-thinning drug called Apixaban, which has been used for patients recovering from COVID, does not work and can cause major bleeding, according to new research reported by the Guardian. The anticoagulant, given to patients when they are discharged from a hospital after being treated for moderate or severe COVID, is widely used by hospitals across the U.K.’s National Health Service. However, the government-funded Heal-Covid trial has found that the drug does not work. Charlotte Summers, the chief investigator of the trial, said: “These first findings from Heal-Covid show us that a blood-thinning drug, commonly thought to be a useful intervention in the post-hospital phase, is actually ineffective at stopping people dying or being readmitted to hospital.”

Here’s what the numbers say:

The global tally of confirmed cases of COVID-19 topped 641.6 million on Monday, while the death toll rose above 6.63 million, according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University.

The U.S. leads the world with 98.6 million cases and 1,079,199 fatalities.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s tracker shows that 228.4 million people living in the U.S., equal to 68.8% of the total population, are fully vaccinated, meaning they have had their primary shots.

So far, just 37.6 million Americans have had the updated COVID booster that targets the original virus and the omicron variants, equal to 12.1% of the overall population.

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