China: The wave of the COVID pandemic has surged in China after witnessing significant control over infections for nearly three years. According to the reports, the country has reported 60,000 deaths between December 8 and January 12 and stated that the situation could get worse in the upcoming days.
Various policies and restrictions have been imposed by the Chinese government to reduce the impact of the COVID pandemic until December 2022, which includes lockdown policies and thrive the immune system of the population of the country through vaccination. The Zero COVID policy remained successful in stopping the virus’ spread across the country.
However, the lockdowns and zero-covid policy prevailed the threats to the political and economic environment of China. Now, the country has been eagerly focusing on strengthening the early detection and treatment of severe cases rather than the prevention of infections. This has led to claims the country is now pursuing a “herd immunity” approach.
The herd immunity concept was launched some 100 years ago with the aim of explaining the reasons behind the stopping of the epidemic ways before affecting the whole population.
COVID infections spread and infected other people across the globe. The people who get recover from the infection gain infection-induced immunity. Those who become infected increasingly have contact with immune rather than susceptible people. This leads to lower risk of passing on the infection.
The epidemic wave slows down and eventually declines. The decline is caused by a sufficiently large number of people becoming immune, therefore protecting the whole population – or the “herd”. In the 1970s, epidemiologists found a simple formula that predicts the proportion of immune individuals at which the number of infections stops growing.
The formula includes the R number, the average number of people one infected person passes the disease onto. Non-pharmaceutical interventions, like social distancing, lockdowns, or mask-wearing, are aimed at reducing the transmissibility of the virus, lowering the value of R.