A renewed push by China to vaccinate its elderly has sparked hopes for an end to its strict zero-COVID policy, but the world’s second-biggest economy is facing challenges and at least a year of hard work before the policy can end, the Associated Press reported. A vaccination campaign will require months and China also needs to build up its hospitals and work out a long-term virus strategy, health experts and economists warn. They say “zero COVID” is likely to stay in place until mid-2023 and possibly as late as 2024. Separately, the ruling Communist Party has vowed to “resolutely crack down on infiltration and sabotage activities by hostile forces,” following the largest street demonstrations in decades staged by citizens fed up with strict anti-virus restrictions, the AP reported.
In the U.S., known cases of COVID are rising again with the daily average standing at 42,451 on Tuesday, according to a New York Times tracker, up76% from two weeks ago. The daily average for hospitalizations was up 12% at 31,125, while the daily average for deaths is up 2% to 285. Globally, the confirmed case tally rose above 642.9 million on Wednesday, according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins, while the death toll is above 6.63 million with the U.S leading the world with 98.7 million cases and 1,079,888 fatalities.