Has the harm of the new coronavirus lessened?

Does vaccination work?

Why is the emphasis on strengthening vaccination for the elderly?

Recently, "Face to Face" interviewed Wang Huaqing, the chief expert of the immunization program of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Wang Huaqing has more than 30 years of immunization work experience. Since the introduction of new crown vaccination, he has been tracking the progress of new crown virus vaccine development and application at home and abroad. He is mainly involved in the dissemination of new crown vaccination popularization information, adverse reaction monitoring, effect evaluation research and other research work .

  According to the information released by the National Health and Health Commission, as of May 21, 2022, 31 provinces (autonomous regions and municipalities) and the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps have reported a total of 3,370.162 million doses of the new coronavirus vaccine.

From December 2020, the first batch of new crown vaccines began to be vaccinated for key groups. Within a year and a half, China has completed the world's largest number of new crown virus vaccinations.

  Wang Huaqing told reporters that the vaccine developed against the original strain of the new coronary pneumonia two years ago, with the passage of vaccination time, the neutralizing antibody showed a downward trend, and the delta mutant strain and the Omicron mutant strain also appeared immune escape phenomenon.


How do you deal with such an accident?

Wang Huaqing:

In the current situation, it is mainly about how to reduce the occurrence of severe illness and reduce the occurrence of death.

(Vaccination) This is the best method we can take at present, because we see that no matter whether it is the previous delta variant or the current Omicron, the occurrence of severe death in some countries and Some areas are also more serious. In this case, one of the main purposes of vaccination is to reduce severe illness and reduce deaths.


From the perspective of medical research data, what is the inevitable connection between the reduction of mortality or the reduction of severe cases through vaccination?

Wang Huaqing:

With regard to vaccines, there is a global consensus that we should continue to vaccinate, especially for the elderly, for people with chronic diseases, and for booster shots. In fact, we still see the effect of vaccines in preventing severe illness and preventing death. .

There are actually two aspects to the effect. The first is how much the risk of death and severe illness can be reduced. There is also a comparison of the incidence trend of the population without vaccination and vaccination with different doses. In fact, both aspects are considered. To the effect of vaccines to prevent severe illness and death.

  According to the information released by the Hong Kong Department of Health on May 12, from December 23, 2021 to May 11, 2022, during the outbreak of new coronary pneumonia in Hong Kong, the case fatality rate of the unvaccinated population was 3.04%, and two doses of the vaccine were given. The case fatality rate was 0.17% for the vaccinated population and 0.04% for the three-dose vaccination group, which were 18-fold and 76-fold higher than the non-vaccinated population, respectively.

In addition, the CDC conducted a special study on the cases of cluster outbreaks in Jilin City this spring. The results of the study showed that 78% of the severe cases were not vaccinated or not fully vaccinated.

  Relevant studies have shown that the severe and fatal cases caused by the recent new coronary pneumonia epidemic in Hong Kong, Shanghai and other places, in addition to the proportion of unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated, there are many elderly people and many people with chronic diseases. obvious features.

Wang Huaqing:

We see that severe illness and death are mainly among those with chronic underlying diseases and the elderly.

Infection with the virus is a very important incentive. On the one hand, the symptoms of new coronary pneumonia are worse, and the other is actually infected with the new coronavirus, which further aggravates the original underlying disease, and will further increase his serious comorbidities.

Because the new coronavirus can invade most tissues and organs from the early research results, when these tissues and organs were originally in a pathological condition, they will be more severe when the virus attacks.

In addition, there is a risk for the elderly. After infection, the course of the disease is relatively insidious. Among other people, the fever may become prominent immediately. After the fever, it is known that there may be a risk of infection, but the fever rate of the elderly is lower than that of other people. .


Why does this happen?

Wang Huaqing:

The physiological basis determines that the elderly have weak reactions, and the clinical manifestations of the disease are different from those of ordinary people. Therefore, some elderly people lose their lives in this situation, which is actually related to the late discovery.

Because the symptoms are not typical, they may be more severe when they appear.

  According to statistics from the Hong Kong Department of Health, in the current round of the new crown pneumonia epidemic in Hong Kong, the case fatality rate of the elderly over the age of 80 was 16.48%.

Existing research data shows that the harm of the new coronary pneumonia virus to the elderly shows no signs of abating.

Wang Huaqing:

Now that the virus is evolving, we see that Omicron is very contagious at present, the speed of transmission is fast, and the transmission process is hidden.

We have not been vaccinated, and after infection, especially the elderly, the risk of such severe illness and death is actually increasing.

In this case, the vaccine is actually the best measure for them to reduce severe illness and death.

  At present, in the stage of comprehensive prevention and control of the new crown pneumonia epidemic in my country's "adherence to dynamic clearing", how to further strengthen vaccination and reduce the probability of serious illness and death of the elderly due to infection has become one of the focuses of prevention and control work.

Wang Huaqing:

Because we have entered an aging society, the elderly account for a very large proportion of our population.

When this disease became widespread, I think the impact may be relatively large.

The World Health Organization and various countries have formulated a priority group for vaccination, which includes the elderly over the age of 60, and some countries may set the group at the age of 65 or over 75.

  According to the report of the National Health and Health Commission, as of May 12, about 230 million people over the age of 60 have been vaccinated against the new coronavirus in the country, with a vaccination coverage rate of 86% and a full-course vaccination rate of 82%, which is in line with the national population vaccination coverage rate of 91%, Compared with the whole vaccination rate of 89%, it is still low.


In fact, the proportion has reached more than 80% now, and should we continue to strengthen the vaccination of the elderly?

Wang Huaqing:

This is a national average, but if we spread this number to different places, we will see obvious differences between regions. When the virus is infected, for places with a relatively low vaccination rate, people over 80 years old are actually at risk. It's bigger.


From the perspective of vaccination, is this a shortcoming in the barrel theory?

Wang Huaqing:

Yes, it now has two shortcomings. The first one is that we see that the elderly in some areas are not vaccinated. The second one is age.

The vaccination rate of this group of people aged 60 to 69 may be close to 90% or about 90%, but if it is 70 to 80 years old, especially when it is over 80 years old, some may not reach 50% or 60%, and diseases will appear at this time. If you think about the epidemic, the risk of severe illness and death will be very high.

  In addition to the fact that vaccination can effectively reduce severe cases and deaths, high hopes are also placed on specific drugs for the treatment of new coronary pneumonia.

As of May 8, 6 new coronavirus treatment drugs have been approved in China.


For many people, they may feel that the danger of the virus is not as strong as it was at the beginning. In this case, is it necessary to get this vaccine?

Wang Huaqing:

We say that when the disease is serious or not, it depends on the number of cases, and the death rate among the people with the disease, and the proportion of severe cases.

In fact, the incidence of Omicron this time has been more than two years since the epidemic of the new crown. From a global perspective, the number of incidences has greatly exceeded the previous peak. The weekly peak incidence may actually be four or five times higher than the previous peak. .

Under such a huge base, we have seen a peak in the number of deaths.

Like the Western Pacific region where our country is located, the death peak is actually similar to the previous Delta death peak.

Some people have many concerns about not vaccinating, but when it really becomes popular, we see that the harm caused by not vaccinating is relatively serious.

  In response to the constantly mutating new coronavirus, researchers are committed to promoting the iterative upgrade of vaccines, hoping to develop more effective vaccines.

On May 9, China's first sequential clinical trial of the new coronavirus inactivated vaccine of Omicron strain was officially launched.


For many elderly people who need to be vaccinated, they will feel that it may be the safest to be vaccinated when they are more mature. Can you understand that?

Wang Huaqing:

I don’t think it’s understandable. The vaccine for the Omicron variant is still in the research and development stage, and it will take some time to do a series of evaluations in the future.

What will the future look like in this situation? What we need to do now is to do a good job in the immediate things. Using the existing vaccines can play a better role in preventing severe illness and preventing death. Why don't we use it now?

  In the process of vaccinating against the new crown, there are also some elderly people who have not been vaccinated because they are worried about the possible adverse reactions of the vaccine.

Wang Huaqing:

Serious adverse reactions occur at the level of one in a million, or a lower level than this.

Now according to our analysis, compared with the vaccines used in the past, the incidence of serious adverse reactions is not higher than that of the vaccines previously used.


Maybe the immune system of the elderly is relatively weak in various aspects. Will the existence of this adverse reaction have a certain impact on them?

Wang Huaqing:

We have been advocating for everyone to understand the risks and benefits. If we have never felt the threat of disease, this is the main issue that everyone may consider.

However, if the risk of contracting this virus is compared with a fatality rate of over 16% over the age of 80 and our adverse reactions of one in a million, we can actually see a huge gap.

  Wang Huaqing said that in order to solve the worries of vaccinators, the state has a sound compensation mechanism for abnormal reactions to protect the adverse reactions of the new crown vaccination.

Wang Huaqing:

For example, I am a vaccinated person. After I have been vaccinated, I have a fever. The fever lasts for a long time, and the fever is relatively high. In this case, I suspect that it is a vaccine, and you should report it to the vaccination unit.

After the vaccination unit receives this report, if your symptoms are not relieved, your fever does not go down, and other symptoms appear, you should report it to the CDC. The CDC will organize relevant experts to conduct investigation and diagnosis. Is it a coincidence or an adverse reaction.


If it is said that the injection of the vaccine has adversely affected or even damaged the body of the elderly, who will be held responsible?

Wang Huaqing:

For these situations, all localities follow the relevant requirements of the Vaccine Management Law.

For example, where do the funds come from and what are the compensation standards? We have a complete mechanism to do this.

In the course of so many years of vaccination in our country, a relatively complete mechanism has been formed.

  Under the decision-making and deployment of the Party Central Committee and the State Council, all parts of my country are currently promoting the homologous and sequential strengthening of immunization of the new coronavirus vaccine in an orderly manner in accordance with the principle of "accommodating as many as possible".

The vaccination rate of the national population, especially the elderly over 60 years old, will be further improved.

Wang Huaqing:

According to our professional point of view, the higher the vaccination rate, the further the risk will be reduced.

If the elderly do not get vaccinated, and the vaccination rate is relatively low, if the epidemic becomes popular, there may be a lot of severe diseases, and the number of deaths will further increase.


What is your suggestion now?

Wang Huaqing:

We recommend that eligible elderly people get vaccinated as soon as possible. Don’t wait for the epidemic to come. If there is an infection around us, if we want to get vaccinated, then it may be too late.

Sometimes we contract this disease, get severe disease, or when family members lose their lives. We wonder if it would be better to have a specific drug in the early stage. Now, to prevent severe disease from occurring and reduce the incidence of death, this specific drug is actually a vaccine .

  Producer丨Liu Bin

  Reporter丨Gu Bing


  Choreographer丨Wang Huidong

  Editor in charge丨Wang Feng

  Editor丨Zhang Hongfei

  Photography丨Yang Fan and Liu Hongbo