China’s strategy to fight a pandemic without Covid is not sustainable, the head of the World Health Organization said Tuesday, adding that the WHO has informed Beijing.
The draconian measures have left much of Shanghai’s 25 million population trapped at home for weeks as China battles the country’s worst outbreak since the pandemic began.
Nevertheless, the quarantine in Shanghai has intensified, sparking outrage and rare protests in the last major economy still adhering to a zero Covid policy.
“When we talk about the zero Covid strategy, we don’t think it’s sustainable, given the behavior of the virus now and what we expect in the future,” Tedros Adanom Gebreyesus told a news conference.
“We discussed this with Chinese experts and indicated that this approach would not be sustainable, and given the behavior of the virus, I think a change would be very important.”
WHO emergency director Michael Ryan said it was time to hit the reset button, saying that any response to the Covid-19 pandemic must show “due respect for individual rights and human rights.”
“We need to balance control measures with their impact on society, with the impact they have on the economy, and that’s not always a simple calibration,” he said.
Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO technical director for Covid-19, said it’s impossible to stop all transmission globally.
“Our goal at the global level is not to find all cases and stop all transmissions. It’s really not possible at this time,” she said.