Special collection of articles that highlight China’s response to covid-19.

The BMJ today launches a special collection on China’s response against covid-19. It will explain the details of what happened, how and why it was successful, as well as the ways that traditional public health measures can be used to safeguard their populations in the coming years.

China was the first country to be affected by the covid-19 virus and sparked the attention of the entire world as it struggled to comprehend and contain the new pathogen. Although it accounts for 19% of the world’s population, China has only reported 0.05% of the global cases.

China quickly mobilized and stopped and eliminated all local infections within two months. A new collection of articles written by people involved in the response exposes the Chinese experiences and provides policy recommendations.

The collection will be launched on 4/12/2021 at an exclusive event at the Symposium on System Construction of Disease Prevention and Control – Public Health Challenges and Opportunities following covid-19.

Du Bin and his colleagues examine China’s initial response and the role played by China’s centrally coordinated campaign, the rapid mobilization of 42,000 Wuhan-based healthcare personnel efficient local coordination, the allocation of healthcare resources, and rapid capacity development for critical or general treatment of infectious diseases.

“New technologies greatly helped. Rapid nucleic acids testing was a tremendous aid. It enabled us to quickly diagnose patients, detect asymptomatic infection, and assess the risk to the entire population. Mobile phones were utilized to trace and manage close contacts”, they write. “With the high prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 infection and the potential for long-distance transmission via cold chain logistics, containing would have been impossible without these tools,” they write.

The authors state that recent experiences of successfully containing a highly infectious disease is not sufficient, particularly when hundreds of thousands of people are afflicted and require urgent medical assistance as was the case in Wuhan the epicenter of the epidemic in China.

However, they warn that China’s population is almost entirely vulnerable due to successful confinement. Therefore, the country must continue to take strong public health measures until vaccines are accessible.

As such, they ask for the sharing of information on how the elimination of an emerging pandemic-like disease is possible by using non-pharmaceutical interventions by themselves. They believe this will be critically important when the next infectious disease with the potential for pandemic occurs and argue that through collaboration between international efforts, such outbreaks can and should be managed locally to avoid devastating consequences across the globe.

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

This collection of articles from top experts describes China’s response to the outbreak, which has received many attentions around the world. We hear first-hand how that response has helped to control SARS-CoV-2 and also provides a guideline for other countries that want to emulate China’s strategy. These papers offer a wealth of lessons. The most striking is the fact that both old school public health and the latest technology were the key to China’s success. However, there is still an urgent need for international collaboration in dealing with future pandemics.

Dr Kamran Abbasi Executive Editor, The BMJ

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Gemma Wilson

Gemma is a journalism graduate with keen interest in covering business news – specifically startups. She has as a keen eye for technologies and has predicted quite a few successful startups over the last couple of years.

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