Facing new outbreak of delta variant, China warns citizens to comply with the law or else

As Allahpundit pointed out earlier, the so-called delta variant of the coronavirus which has been spreading throughout India is now starting to spread here. But it’s also spreading in other parts of the world including China which has be dealing with a new outbreak in the city of Guangzhou. So far there have been just over 100 cases but that’s because China has used it’s usual methods to prevent it from spreading:

Authorities in the city of over 15 million people have moved swiftly to introduce mass testing and lockdown local areas since detecting the first local case of the Delta variant in China on May 21 in Guangzhou…

Parts of Liwan have been locked down, which means residents cannot enter or leave a certain zone. Shops have been shut. Across various areas of the city, restaurants have been forced to stop dine-in services and instead move to outdoor dining or takeout only…

Chen Bin, the deputy director of the Guangzhou Municipal Health Commission, said on Tuesday that if people do not cooperate with the city’s attempts to to stamp out the virus, they could face “legal liability” including fines and detention.

In China, if you don’t wear a mask you can be arrested. And in the lockdown areas, no one is allowed out for any reason except medical testing. The NY Times reports some residents are getting up in the middle of the night to avoid long lines for mandatory tests. Even at 3:30 am there was an hour-long wait.

One reason for the concern is that, because of its massive population, China is nowhere near the point where herd immunity would kick in.

It has administered about 800 million doses by the government’s count, compared with 300 million administered in the United States…

Still, administering 800 million doses — almost all of the vaccines require two shots — means most of China’s 1.4 billion people have not been fully vaccinated. Some people remain hesitant to get the shots, and Chinese media outlets have used the Guangzhou outbreak to encourage skeptics to get inoculated.

China is currently vaccinating about 20 million people per day. At that rate it would only take about a month for the equivalent of everyone to have received one shot. However, that brings up another problem China is facing. Its vaccines are only moderately effective against the original Wuhan strain of the virus. We don’t know how effective they are against the delta variant but we do know that even the best vaccines are less effective against the variant. That’s especially true for those who’ve only had one shot:

Researchers in Britain have found that receiving only the first of two shots of the Oxford-AstraZeneca or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines may be only 30 percent effective in preventing infection with the Delta variant, said Raina MacIntyre, who heads the biosecurity program at the Kirby Institute of the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia.

After two doses, effectiveness appears to rise to 60 percent with the AstraZeneca vaccine and 88 percent with Pfizer-BioNTech. “With the degree of vaccine escape there is with the Delta variant, you really do need people to be fully vaccinated,” she said.

So with one shot of the Sinovac vaccine, people likely have very minimal protection. And even with two doses that protection is almost certainly below 50 percent. Sinovac is now saying that a third dose of the vaccine brings antibodies levels up substantially but to accomplish that you’d need to produce another 1.4 billion doses just for China. And at 20 million doses a day, you’d need another 10 weeks to get all those additional doses into people’s arms.

All of that to say, China is in a precarious position. The delta variant has the potential to spread like wildfire among a populace which is either unvaccinated or poorly vaccinated at this point. That’s why China is being ultra-strict with lockdowns, threatening people with fines or jail and making it especially tough on foreigners entering the country. At present, if you want to travel to China you need to quarantine for two weeks at home and then quarantine for at least two weeks when you arrive. So unless you’re planning to stay for a while it’s probably not worth the effort.