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According to the Bloomberg dashboard, China has now fully vaccinated 75% of their population:

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I'm assuming they're eventually aiming for ~95% coverage given that they've already approved the vaccine for kids over the age of 3 but this goal should be reachable very soon too. Did China announce what their plan is now that the vaccination program is close to completion? It seems like zero COVID is the official plan for now but are there any long-term plans suggesting a different strategy?

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  • Just to be clear, are we talking strictly about the existing Sinopharm vaccine, or the planned mRNA vaccine closer to the US versions?
    – Machavity
    Sep 7 '21 at 15:53
  • @Machavity if China's plan is "wait until we revaccinate with mRNA", that's a good answer too! I'm not completely sure what's China end goal is for vaccinations. Sep 7 '21 at 15:55
  • Probably the overall strategy would be sit back and continue to observe the longer term effects of mild chronic illness from around the world. In particular, there would be more studies in Chile, which is the test laboratory for the Chinese vaccines -- much like Israel is for the US ones. If these populations turn out safely, you might at some point see one or two isolated localities in China experiment with letting people get exposed to the real thing, before rolling the policy out more broadly.
    – Pete W
    Sep 7 '21 at 17:25
  • @PeteW that makes perfect sense but... did any officials comment on this? Sep 7 '21 at 17:26
  • Not that I know of, but I'm only keeping my eye on it casually (from the US). It's still officially zero tolerance as far as I can tell.
    – Pete W
    Sep 7 '21 at 17:27
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Hard to say. Them like a number of other countries in SE Asia are having internal discussion about this, although those in China are less transparent, as per usual. Even the gov't press reported some though:

China's current COVID-19 coping strategy is the one that suits us the best, Zhang Wenhong, a top infectious disease expert, said on Wednesday, breaking his silence of more than 20 days after his previous "coexist with coronavirus in the long run" remarks were misinterpreted and sparked debate about China's anti-epidemic strategy. [...]

At the end of his long post, Zhang said that China still faces great challenges from COVID-19 "but we must have steadfast faith. Our country's current anti-epidemic strategy is what suits us the best. Only the one who wears the shoes knows if the shoes fit," said Zhang.

The doctor broke silence since his last Sina Weibo post on July 29 in response to the COVID-19 flare up in Nanjing, where he said that "the world needs to learn to coexist with the virus."

The remarks soon sparked debates after many Chinese netizens, as well as foreign media outlets, misinterpreted Zhang's opinion as a proposal for China to change its current "zero tolerance" strategy, which has proved successful as it timely reduced viral contagion and helped the economy to quickly rebound.

The criticism against Zhang and the "coexist with virus" approach further escalated after Gao Qiang, China's former health minister, published an article on media where he recommended to continue with the stringent COVID-19 prevention policies and dismissed ideas of a laissez-faire attitude by abandoning the harsh epidemic control measures, as some Western countries did. [...]

Zeng Guang, a former chief epidemiologist at the Chinese CDC, previously told the Global Times that China's current zero-tolerance strategy does not contradict the approach of "coexist with virus." "Zero-COVID strategy helps the society quickly bounce back from the pandemic shadow. We gained from it. When such benefits are gone, we will adjust our policies accordingly," said Zeng, confiding that coexistence with the virus is a consequence in the long run. As for now, humans have only eradicated one virus: smallpox.

(Ironically, China is giving itself less credit there, as they've eradicated SARS, albeit before it became too widespread. Only a limited number of cases abroad etc.)

Anyway, for now it look like they are sticking with strict eradication measures for any outbreaks. There was recent news of a partial shutdown of a port in August after one Chinese worker was infected, seemingly after contact with sailors.

Also, they've recently (Aug 27) approved 3rd booster shots for workers in some areas:

Given China's good prevention situation of COVID-19, people who work at customs, border control and inspections, medical isolated sites, designated medical institutions that are high-risk for preventing imported cases, can have a booster vaccine shot six months after finishing the immunity process, Zheng Weizhong, director of the Development Center for Medical Science and Technology of the National Health Commission (NHC), told the press conference.

But on the same day they had announced reaching 2bn doses administered. I think that's largely without 3rd/booster. But after this point it's a bit more difficult to infer coverage from doses and they alas seem to mostly publicize the latter in official communiques.

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