That’s not what we want to hear as the UK lockdown lifts, pubs reopen and kids return to school, but one of China’s top experts ontold ITV News that the virus will likely stay with us for at least two to four years.
In his first overseas TV interview, Dr Zhang Wenhong, director of infectious diseases at Huashan Hospital in Shanghai, predicts that we will live with this for a while and he thinks there is a good chance that a second international epidemic will occur this fall or winter. .
His predictions are based on his knowledge of the virus as one of the first to deal with it and on the current situation in the rest of the world, not in China where this week, for the first time since the start of the pandemic, he did not there were no local infections.
Dr Zhang points out that the United States and India are still struggling to contain their first wave of the virus, and other parts of South America and Africa are only at the beginning of their battle.
He believes that a vaccine is the only way to beat this virus and the only solution for countries like America, where they have not imposed a lockdown as tight as him in Shanghai.
The doctor has been hailed as a hero and given the nickname Father Zhang for preventing the pandemic from taking hold in Shanghai.
He received his first Covid-19 patient on January 12, and a week later initiated the full lockdown of China’s largest city.
People were told to stay home and only go out in an emergency.
Arrangements have been made for food and other necessary supplies to be delivered to their homes.
The communities complied and it worked.
Within four weeks the spread was contained and Shanghai was able to start opening up again.
Needless to say, he thinks such severe quarantines should be enforced elsewhere in the world.
I have been warned not to raise the issue of China’s delay in responding in the early days of the outbreak.
But of course I told Dr Zhang that if the Chinese government had issued its warnings earlier and shut down Wuhan earlier then the virus might not have crossed its borders and become the pandemic. which has, and continues to, have such tragic consequences. today.
He admitted that before confirming human-to-human transmission, the government and doctors, including himself, were aware of human-to-human infections, but they had just sequenced the virus in mid-January.
More and more people were infected, which gave them more information about the virus, and then on January 20, human-to-human transmission was confirmed.
He insists it’s not very long, not when it comes to a virus they’ve never seen before and just sequenced.
He also rejects claims that China has tried to cover up the epidemic – how can you hide such an infectious disease he asked me in response, it is impossible, and it would be unimaginable in China, a he declared.
Dr Zhang told me he couldn’t begin to think if they had tried to cover it up and allowed the pandemic to spread uncontrollably across China.
Although it was able to send tens of thousands of medical staff to Wuhan, there was no way the world’s most populous country would have the medical resources to deal with an AIDS pandemic. magnitude observed in the United States or India.
Lack of these resources was the reason the British government advised all Britons in China to leave the country in early February.
Dr Zhang is involved in some of the many vaccine research projects underway in China.
He believes that it will take several months before it can be determined the effectiveness of the products tested so far, there are still too many unknowns regarding the duration of immunity.
He suggests that any possible vaccine might require annual administration. It is too early to tell.
China is desperate to find a cure for Covid-19, for political and global health reasons.
But despite Dr Zhang’s remarks, and even though China is the first in this race for a vaccine, the questions surrounding the country’s handling of the epidemic in these crucial first weeks will not go away.