What would need to happen for Beijing to abandon zero-Covid?
The Hundred #5: April 18, 2022
“Beijing has made it clear it will cling to zero-Covid. In fact, with the rapid spread of Covid in Shanghai, it has upped the ante in implementing the strategy. Concerned about the worst-case scenario after opening, top decision makers may find it difficult to pivot away from zero-Covid even though the cost has exceeded the benefits of implementing the strategy. Against this backdrop, Beijing will only consider abandoning zero-Covid after it accepts the idea of living with the virus or, in a less likely scenario, most of the country is inundated with Covid cases, making it meaningless to sustain zero-Covid.”
“It is extremely unlikely that China abandons its dynamic zero-Covid policy before the Party Congress in November because the success of China’s Covid strategy is a key pillar of President Xi Jinping’s legacy. This means that only a massive shock will derail Beijing’s efforts to keep zero-Covid. The most obvious shock is an economic collapse. Such a collapse seems unlikely as China can ease monetary policy and instruct banks to transfer the necessary liquidity to small and medium enterprises. Only a major mistake by which companies are not supported and unemployment surges could lead to a review of current policies.”
“The government's preferred scenario is that Chinese pharmaceutical companies develop an mRNA vaccine, allowing for a mass re-vaccination campaign with the new, better vaccines. But if the outbreak is hard to contain--say a new outbreak next month--I predict that the government will authorize the Chinese pharmaceutical company Fosun, which has a joint-venture with BioNTech, to produce BioNTech's mRNA vaccine. In no case, however, do I think that Beijing will abandon its strategy beforehand--it needs the mRNA vaccines, and the only question is do they get a home-grown one or use the German technology.”
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