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China’s failure to vaccinate makes giving up on zero covid a huge risk

Widespread protests against China’s zero-covid policy have led the country to ease some restrictions, but its failure to vaccinate older people means this could lead to millions of deaths

Health | Analysis 1 December 2022

Mandatory Credit: Photo by JEROME FAVRE/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock (13641875g) Mainland Chinese students hold sheets of blank paper during a vigil for the victims of China's zero-COVID policy and the victims of the Urumqi fire at the University of Hong Kong in Hong Kong, China, 29 November 2022. Protests against China's strict COVID-19 restrictions have erupted in various cities including Beijing and Shanghai, triggered by a tower fire that killed 10 people in Xinjiang's capital, Urumqi. University students hold a vigil for the victims of China's zero-COVID policy, Hong Kong - 29 Nov 2022

There have been protests against China’s strict covid-19 restrictions in cities including Beijing and Shanghai

JEROME FAVRE/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

In response to protests in many parts of the country, China is easing some of the draconian measures it imposed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. But the government’s failure to vaccinate the most vulnerable people means that the relaxation of restrictions risks causing a vast number of deaths.

A big wave of infections in the country could lead to between 1.3 million and 2.1 million deaths, according to UK science analytics company Airfinity. …