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China was the only major economy to grow in 2020

China’s economy grew by 2.3 per cent in 2020, official figures revealed today, making it the only major economy to grow at all during the year of the coronavirus. 

The 2.3 per cent expansion was better than experts had predicted and came after China’s economy bounced back from the pandemic by exporting medical equipment and seizing market share from struggling rivals. 

While much of the world economy is still hampered by resurgent virus outbreaks and resulting strict lockdowns, Beijing claims to have largely brought the virus under control within its own borders following the initial outbreak in Wuhan a year ago. 

Every other OECD country is expected to publish figures showing an economic decline in 2020, with projected recessions of 3.7 per cent in the US, 7.5 per cent in the eurozone and 11.2 per cent in the UK. 

China’s GDP grew by 2.3 per cent in 2020, making it the only major economy likely to record economic growth in the year of the pandemic. German officials announced a 5.0 per cent recession last week, while OECD projections are shown for other major economies 

China calls Mike Pompeo a ‘praying mantis trying to stop the rolling wheels of history’

China today likened outgoing US secretary of state Mike Pompeo to a ‘praying mantis’ in a colourful condemnation of the latest US sanctions sparked by the mass arrest of Hong Kong pro-democracy activists.

Pompeo, one of the Trump administration’s most vociferous China hawks, has spent his final days in office unveiling a host of measures targeting Beijing.

Among them was fresh sanctions on six officials – including Hong Kong’s sole representative to China’s top lawmaking body – in response to the recent arrest of 55 democracy activists under a new security law.

‘Hong Kong’s development from chaos to stability is unstoppable,’ Beijing’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office said in its first response to the sanctions on Monday.

‘People like Pompeo are nothing but laughable praying mantises who are trying in vain to stop the rolling wheels of history.’

The metaphor stems from an old Chinese idiom that describes futility in which a mantis tries to stop a chariot with its legs.

Dismissing US sanctions as ‘a political trick when all other tricks are exhausted’, the office urged Pompeo to ‘wind up the show’ – a reference to his impending departure from office.    

China says the security crackdown has restored stability, while critics argue Beijing has shredded its promise that Hong Kong would maintain key liberties and autonomy when it was handed back by Britain.

The US had previously imposed sanctions over the crackdown, including against city leader Carrie Lam who later acknowledged that she has had to rely on cash and can no longer hold a bank account.

China’s figures show a marked slowdown from the 6.0 per cent growth in 2019, which was already the lowest in decades amid trade tensions and weak domestic demand. 

The full-year growth of 2.3 per cent was the Chinese economy’s worst performance since a 1.6 per cent contraction in 1976, the year that Mao Zedong died. 

The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said last year was a ‘grave and complex environment both at home and abroad’ with the pandemic having a ‘huge impact’.   

But the figures are better than those forecast by an AFP poll of analysts from 13 financial institutions, who had predicted a 2.0 percent expansion.

The overall growth included a 6.5 per cent rebound in the last three months of 2020, bringing it back to a pre-pandemic trajectory. 

By contrast, the world economy was projected by the OECD to shrink by 4.2 per cent in 2020, with larger slumps in Britain, Italy, France and India among others.  

Industrial production grew by 2.8 per cent year on year after factories swiftly re-opened following the initial lockdowns last winter. 

But retail sales shrank by 3.9 per cent for the full year, the first contraction since 1968, with consumers wary of spending as the pandemic lingered. 

NBS commissioner Ning Jizhe told reporters the foundation for China’s economic recovery ‘is still not yet firm’.

‘There are many uncertainties in the changing dynamics of the pandemic, as well as the external environment,’ he said. 

The urban unemployment rate remained at 5.2 per cent, and Ning said the number of newly-employed in urban areas was more than 11 million – exceeding the target of nine million.

However, experts have cautioned unemployment could be higher than official figures suggest due to the large numbers of people in China’s informal workforce.

‘The strengthening momentum of China’s economic rebound during the fourth quarter of 2020 reflected improving private consumption expenditure as well as buoyant net exports,’ said Rajiv Biswas, IHS Markit’s Asia-Pacific chief economist.

He added exports were helped by rebounding orders from the United States and Europe, including shipments of medical equipment during the pandemic.

Rebound: Workers move boxes of computers on a street in Wuhan on Saturday, after Chinese companies and exporters took advantage of the global economic standstill

Rebound: Workers move boxes of computers on a street in Wuhan on Saturday, after Chinese companies and exporters took advantage of the global economic standstill 

Figures published last week showed China enjoying an 18 per cent export boom in December and seeing its trade surplus with America widen during 2020. 

But Iris Pang, ING chief economist for Greater China, said ‘when China can achieve a complete recovery is still an open question’, given that without fiscal and monetary stimulus, the economy would not have recovered at such a pace.

She added: ‘The risk of a technology war between China and some economies remains if the US does not remove some measures.’

New government restrictions due to local Covid-19 outbreaks could also hamper first quarter growth this year, said Louis Kuijs of Oxford Economics.

China’s strong export figures saw its politically volatile trade surplus rise to $535billion, one of the highest ever reported – with a 7.1 per cent rise in its surplus with America. 

Exports to the US rose by 7.9 per cent despite tariff hikes on most Chinese goods by the Trump administration, which has been at loggerheads with Beijing over a long list of issues.  

The figures show that China’s trade surplus with America has widened by 15 per cent since Trump took office in 2017. 

Even with Trump leaving office this week, analysts expect few changes in the US-China relationship due to widespread frustration in Washington with China’s record on trade, human rights and technology theft.  

2020: Health workers wearing white hazmat suits work near the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan which has been linked to the early spread of the coronavirus

2020: Health workers wearing white hazmat suits work near the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan which has been linked to the early spread of the coronavirus 

On Friday, the US state department released a ‘fact sheet’ claiming that researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology had been sick with possible Covid-19 symptoms before the outbreak first came to light in December 2019. 

China has rejected claims that the virus could have leaked from the lab, and has touted unproven theories that it might have originated in Europe or elsewhere. 

Several countries have found evidence that the virus had already reached them in the final months of 2019.  

But it was not until December 31, 2019 that the WHO’s China office was informed of a mystery pneumonia which had sickened 44 people in Wuhan. 

Later, the WHO was informed that at least one patient in Wuhan – a major transport hub – had been showing symptoms as early as December 8.   

China has always denied allegations of a cover-up, reacting angrily to calls for an international investigation into the origins of the virus. 

Last week it allowed a team of WHO experts to enter the country on a politically sensitive mission but they were not expected to probe the lab leak theory.  

Numerous reports have detailed how China withheld key details about the virus in its early stages, including from the WHO which has praised China in public. 

A young doctor, Li Wenliang, was reprimanded by police after trying to raise the alarm about the disease – and later died of it.  

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Canada

China confines an additional 3 million inhabitants

China on Monday confined an additional three million people in the northeast of the country, after new cases of COVID-19 linked to a sales representative who came into contact with elderly people.

• Read also: COVID-19: China places 20,000 inhabitants in forced quarantine

• Read also: COVID-19: more than two million dead worldwide

The authorities have largely contained the epidemic since spring 2020, thanks to quarantines, screening of travelers arriving from abroad, tracking of trips and even massive screenings.

The occurrence of hundreds of cases in recent weeks – although they are far from reaching the levels recorded in Europe and the United States – has however provoked a strong response, with lockdowns and large mandatory testing campaigns.

The Chinese Ministry of Health again reported 109 new patients with COVID-19 on Monday, nearly a third of them in Jilin province, bordering North Korea.

As a result, local authorities have confined an additional three million residents in two towns in the province, Gongzhuling and Tonghua.

More than 19 million people in northeast China are now banned from leaving their homes. Some are only allowed to go out shopping once every three days.

Authorities traced the chain of contaminations in Jilin to a sales representative in neighboring Heilongjiang province, which borders Russia and where authorities declared a “state of emergency” last week.

This seller would have animated several workshops intended to promote health products to the elderly, a category at risk of COVID-19, according to local authorities.

Elsewhere in the country, lockdowns have been partially lifted in Hebei, the province that surrounds Beijing and where the majority of new national cases had been recorded in recent weeks. Some 12.5 million Chinese are still called to stay at home there.

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Headline USA

This is the photo of when Raúl de Molina was in China with his little daughter | The State

Raíl de Molina and Mia de Molina

Photo:
Luis Fernandez. / Grosby Group

The driver of The fat and the skinny, Raul de Molina, published a photo from 2008 where he is seen with his wife, Mily de Molina And your daughter, Mia de Molina. The latter, when she was just a very young girl. Raul has been very active covering and monitoring everything that the pandemic is about. Remember that China was the first global source of contagion and everything indicates that “Fat” wanted to show that photo of when in Asia everything was “normal” and before the arrival of the coronavirus.

“#Throwbackthursday in #tinamensquare, #China 2008 with @miademomo and @cubapalm”, was the message with which Raul accompanied the photos of one of his great adventures in the company of the women in his life.

All the compliments I take them Mine, who is now a woman who studies at the university but still continues to shake hands with her parents in that way and travel together whenever they can. Not in vain the family of the presenter of Univision It is one of the most in the entertainment industry.

.

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Canada

COVID-19: China announces its first death in eight months

BEIJING | China recorded the first death from COVID-19 in its territory in eight months, health officials in a country said Thursday (local time) battling resurgences of the epidemic it had largely contained.

• Read also: All developments in the COVID-19 pandemic

The death occurred in Hebei Province, the National Health Commission said, without giving further information. It is in this province that several cities were recently placed under lockdown after the outbreak of contaminations.

The last death linked to the pandemic in mainland China was in May 2020.

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Delhi The Buzz

China, Pakistan pose potent threat, says Army Chief


Ajay Banerjee

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 12

Army Chief General MM Naravane on Tuesday said he was hopeful of a positive and amicable solution from the military-to-military talks with China, but was ready to meet any challenge as the ‘operational preparedness’ was of high order.

Zero tolerance to terror activities

  • On being asked about mobilisation by China in 2020, he said: “We were ready. They had the first mover advantage in May and we had the first mover advantage in August.”
  • On Pakistan, he said it continued to embrace terrorism as a state policy. “We have zero tolerance to terror and reserve the right to respond at the place and time chosen by us.”

“We will maintain our current positions and there was no reduction of troops from either side along the Line of Actual Control (LAC),” he said.

He was addressing a press conference in New Delhi ahead of the Army Day (January 15).

On the potential of the two-front war, he said: “Pakistan and China form a potent collusive threat and that is part of our strategic calculus and planning when we are formulating our plans,” the Army Chief said.

Earlier, he said the Army was alert all along the northern borders and not just in Ladakh.

“We are alert and ready to meet the challenge”. The ninth round of talks was awaited and he hoped that an amicable solution through talks would be reached. “I am hopeful of a positive situation, but we are ready to meet any eventuality and all logistics like clothing and habitat (housing) have been taken care of. Our operational preparedness is of high order,” he added.

His words come even as troops of India and China are locked in intense military standoff in Eastern Ladakh since April-May 2020.

On being asked about mobilisation by China in the summer of 2020, he said it was nothing new, they came for usual training areas. “We were ready. They had the first mover advantage in May and we had the first mover advantage in August.” On Pakistan, he said it continued to embrace terrorism as a state policy. “We have zero tolerance to terror and reserve the right to respond at the place and time chosen by us.”

The Army was in the middle of restructuring and transforming from manpower to technology intensive force. “We are looking at block chain, big data, artificial intelligence and quantum computing, and fully committed to various integrated commands. We will calibrate for smooth transition,” he said.





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Delhi The Buzz

‘US planned to assist India against China after Doklam’


Sandeep Dikshit

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 12

In a classified document made public after just two years, the US said its Indo-Pacific strategy had a “particular focus” on India. The objective was to accelerate India’s rise by building stronger defence ties and also by offering diplomatic, military and intelligence support to help address continental challenges such as the border dispute with China.

In other words, the US had taken a strategic decision to build an alliance with India against China in 2018, when the document was prepared. This happened a year after the India-China confrontation in Doklam and two years before both armies clashed violently in eastern Ladakh in mid-2020.

The 10-page document, which explains the need to align US’ Indo-Pacific strategy with those of Australia, India and Japan, was released surprisingly early rather than after 30 years. Partly redacted, it sets out the Trump administration’s strategy for Indo-Pacific that was developed by the US National Security Council.

The four members of the Quad – India, Australia, Japan and the US – had elevated their discussions to the level of Foreign Ministers in 2019, a year after the US had prepared the document followed by a second ministerial in Tokyo last year.

The military part of the strategy sets out three aims – (i) deny China sustained air and sea dominance inside the first island chain in a conflict; (ii) defend the first-island-chain nations, including Taiwan; and (iii) dominate all domains outside the first-island-chain.

The change of classification of the document in the last week of the Trump administration is a “gesture of reassurance to the United States alliance partners, including Australia, that we are not fading away but doubling down in the Indo-Pacific” and the language is likely to be seen to confirm to Beijing its claim that the US is seeking to contain China,” said reports quoting US sources.

“It is highly classified, secret, not for release to foreign nationals, and I think it is a signal about the kind of continuity that the permanent government of America, if you like, the officials, want to see in America’s relations with the Indo-Pacific, including in managing Chinese power,” said Australian National University’s Rory Medcalf, a consistently strong proponent of the Quad since his days with the Lowey Institute.

“This is very clear code for America holding its ground with Taiwan, with partners and allies in the South China Sea, with Japan, with Korea – really maintaining the integrity of those relationships and protecting them from Chinese assertiveness, from Chinese aggression,” he added.





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Canada

COVID-19: China confines five million more inhabitants

BEIJING | China on Tuesday decided to confine five million residents of a city bordering Beijing after a coronavirus case as a precaution, as authorities quickly tried to contain small outbreaks that had appeared near the capital.

• Read also: All developments in the COVID-19 pandemic

• Read also: The birthday of the first death ignored in Wuhan

• Read also: Half a million rural residents confined to Beijing

The country has largely contained COVID-19 on its soil, with zero deaths since May. Regularly confronted with small “clusters”, it treats them quickly with confinements, massive screenings and travel restrictions.

But Hebei province, which surrounds the capital Beijing, has reported in recent weeks 560 people positive for the new coronavirus (including 234 asymptomatic), causing a wave of restrictions and preventive lockdowns.

The inhabitants of Langfang, a manufacturing city of 4.9 million inhabitants bordering Beijing, can no longer leave the borders of their commune since Tuesday, unless absolutely necessary. The measure is in place for seven days.

“All family reunions must be canceled (…), weddings postponed and funeral ceremonies simplified until the epidemic situation calms down,” the town hall said in a statement.

All 4.9 million residents will be screened, Langfang health authorities said, after a positive case was found in one of the townships under the city’s jurisdiction.

The large city of Shijiazhuang (11 million people), capital of Hebei province, is considered the epicenter of the recent outbreak of COVID-19.

Last week, local authorities put in place a lockdown, launched a massive screening of the entire population, closed schools and means of communication (highways, airports, trains, long-distance coaches).

The seven million residents of Xingtai City, also in Hebei Province, have also been banned from leaving their commune’s borders since Friday.

Since October, provinces in northern China have regularly reported cases of COVID-19. Despite the very limited number of contaminations compared to several other countries, the authorities reacted quickly with strict restrictions.

China is trying to avoid any runaway infections as the Lunar New Year holidays approach (February 11-17), which sees hundreds of millions of Chinese people storm transport each year for days or even weeks.

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Headline USA

Chinese socialite who rubbed shoulders with Hillary Clinton and Rita Ora ‘jumped to her death naked’

American-Chinese socialite, 34, who rubbed shoulders with Hillary Clinton ‘jumps to her death naked from her Hong Kong penthouse while holding five-month-old daughter’

  • Luo Lili, 34, allegedly plunged from her penthouse naked in Hong Kong last week
  • She was holding her five-month-old daughter who also died, local reports said
  • The socialite was said to be the only daughter of a Chinese real estate tycoon
  • She was often spotted with famous figures, such as Hillary Clinton and Rita Ora

An American-Chinese socialite has reportedly died in Hong Kong after plunging from her penthouse naked while carrying her five-month-old daughter in her arms.

Luo Lili, 34, who had rubbed shoulders with the likes of Hillary Clinton and Rita Ora, reportedly jumped to her death with her baby after suffering post-natal depression, according to multiple reports from local media.

As the only daughter of a real estate tycoon mother who owns multiple luxury development projects in China, Ms Luo appeared to have lived a lavish life, studying and travelling around the world from a young age.

An American-Chinese socialite has allegedly died in Hong Kong after plunging from her penthouse naked while carrying her five-month-old daughter in her arms. Ms Luo was pictured meeting with former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, according to her Instagram

Luo Lili, 34, who had rubbed shoulders with the likes of Hillary Clinton and Rita Ora, reportedly jumped to her death with her young child last week after suffering post-natal depression

Luo Lili, 34, who had rubbed shoulders with the likes of Hillary Clinton and Rita Ora, reportedly jumped to her death with her young child last week after suffering post-natal depression

The Hong Kong police found the bodies of a 34-year-old woman and her five-month-old daughter at the bottom of an apartment block last Wednesday in Yau Ma Tei, the police confirmed to MailOnline through an email statement.  

The officers were deployed to the scene after receiving a report from a local security guard who spotted the corpses.

‘The woman and the baby girl were certified dead at scene. Initial investigation revealed that they fell from a unit. No will note was found at scene,’ said the police said, who are still investigating the incident. 

‘Post-mortem examinations will be conducted later to ascertain the cause of deaths of the deceased.’   

The police only identified the deceased by their surname Luo. 

However, local news outlets, including HK01 and Ming Pao, have named them as the American-Chinese business woman Ms Luo and her young daughter. 

In a recent Instagram post, Ms Luo shared a photo with her daughter, Aier, while celebrating her baby girl’s 100-day birthday

Ms Luo appeared to have enjoyed a charmed life as an American-Chinese socialite

Ms Luo appeared to have enjoyed a charmed life as a socialite as she was frequently pictured with influential figures around the world including Hillary Clinton and Rita Ora

Ms Luo, a single mother, was believed to have taken her life after suffering post-natal depression, reported Hong Kong newspaper Ming Pao.

She was said to have jumped to her death without wearing clothing from her 5,000-square-foot penthouse while carrying her baby in her arms.

Ms Luo appeared to have enjoyed an extravagant life as a socialite as she was frequently pictured with influential figures around the world including former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and English pop superstar Rita Ora.

In a recent Instagram post, Ms Luo shared a photo with her daughter, Aier, while celebrating her baby girl’s 100-day birthday.

The mother wrote: ‘She is God’s way to give me perspective on life. Thank you for showing up in my life my beloved daughter.’

Ms Luo was reportedly the only daughter of Luo Lin, the chairman of Jinlin Real Estate

Her father is said to have come from a doctor family who have practised Chinese traditional medicine for six generations

Ms Luo, 34, appeared to have lived a lavish life, studying and travelling around the world

Ms Luo was reportedly the only daughter of Luo Lin, the chairman of Jinlin Real Estate in south-western Chinese metropolis Chengdu, who owns multiple luxury development projects across the country. 

Her father is said to have come from a doctor family who have practised Chinese traditional medicine for six generations.

Born in Chengdu, Ms Luo moved to Hong Kong at the age of four before studying in Australia and the United States. She was said to be a fluent English speaker and have worked as a translator for her mother before founding her own company in 2014.

For confidential support, call the Samaritans on 116123 or visit a local Samaritans branch. See www.samaritans.org for details 

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The Buzz

WHO team to visit China on January 14


Beijing, January 11

China said on Monday that a group of experts from the WHO was due to arrive in the country on Thursday to probe the origins of the Covid pandemic, ending the uncertainty and delay which drew sharp criticism from the world health body. Experts from the WHO would conduct a field visit to China on January 14, the state-run CGTN quoted China’s National Health Commission as saying in a report.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said China supported scientists around the world to conduct a global study on the origins of the virus. — PTI





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Health

Most Wuhan COVID Survivors Still Have Health Issues


By Ernie Mundell
HealthDay Reporter


MONDAY, Jan. 11, 2021 (HealthDay News) — Concerns about “long-haul” symptoms in COVID-19 survivors may be reignited by a new study: It finds that 3 out of 4 patients from Wuhan, China — where the pandemic originated — were still suffering at least one lingering health problem six months later.

The study from China involved more than 1,700 patients first diagnosed with the virus in Wuhan between January and May, and then followed to June and September.

Researchers report that 76% of these patients had at least one symptom six months after symptoms began.

The most common symptoms were fatigue or muscle weakness (63%) along with trouble sleeping (26%) and anxiety or depression (23%).

“Because COVID-19 is such a new disease, we are only beginning to understand some of its long-term effects on patients’ health,” said researcher Dr. Bin Cao, from the National Center for Respiratory Medicine at the China-Japan Friendship Hospital and Capital Medical University, both in Beijing. His team published the findings in The Lancet journal Jan. 8.

“Our analysis indicates that most patients continue to live with at least some of the effects of the virus after leaving the hospital, and highlights a need for post-discharge care, particularly for those who experience severe infections,” Cao said in a journal news release. “Our work also underscores the importance of conducting longer follow-up studies in larger populations in order to understand the full spectrum of effects that COVID-19 can have on people.”

People who had been severely ill with COVID-19 more often had impaired lung function, as well as abnormalities seen in chest X-rays, which could indicate organ damage, six months after symptoms began, the Chinese researchers said.

Kidneys were also often affected. Based on lab tests, about 13% of patients who’d had normal kidney function while they’d been hospitalized showed reduced kidney function after they’d recovered from COVID-19, the researchers said.

One U.S. expert said post-COVID-19 “recovery” remains an ongoing, unfolding story.

“‘Long COVID’ is an evolving syndrome. Although the constellation of earlier associated symptoms is fairly well described, little is known about long-term outcomes,” said Dr. Thomas Gut, associate chair of medicine at Staten Island University Hospital in New York City. And he’s seen similar issues among patients at his hospital.


Continued

“As noted in this study, the vast majority of patients seen at our Post-COVID Recovery Center are for complaints of fatigue or brain fog, which both have overlap features with the complaints seen in this study,” Gut said.

“Many of our patients report either new onset symptoms since COVID, or significantly worsened symptoms,” he noted. “Most of our patients are seeing gradual improvement in symptoms as time passes, but some are still experiencing lingering effects nearly a year after infection. For many patients, there is little clear explanation for their persistent symptoms even after extensive testing and even less clear treatment options at this point.”

Another expert believes health care centers need to be prepared for a wave of long COVID patients.

“There will be a wave of patients with long COVID entering our medical systems that will require continuing care and rehabilitation,” said Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. “We must not only plan for this, by developing centers of excellence, but allocate the necessary federal funds for research and care of these patients.”

Beyond the physical issues experienced post-COVID, there’s a “psychological toll on recovery, which directly impacts how people are able to resume their lives,” Glatter added. “Having appropriate resources in place is essential for aiding recovery in the painful and long months after acute infection.”

The Wuhan study also tried to track survivors’ longer-term immunity against COVID-19. It found that levels of neutralizing antibodies against the new coronavirus fell by more than half (52.5%) after six months in 94 patients whose immune response was tested at the peak of the infection.

That finding increases concern about the possibility of survivors being reinfected by the virus.

“At this time, the duration of immunity after COVID-19 infection is unclear,” Glatter said.

However, he pointed to another study released Thursday in the journal Science that “indicates that natural immunity to COVID-19 may last up to eight months, making the potential for reinfection less likely. It’s a complex response involving antibodies, memory B-cells, and different types of T-cells.”


Continued

But all of this means vaccination is still imperative, even for people who already had COVID-19, Glatter said.

“We still don’t know the full picture of longer-term immunity, making vaccination an essential part of the public health approach to this pandemic,” he said. “The vaccine is safe and effective and represents the most effective way to reach herd immunity.”

Herd immunity occurs when enough people (about 70%) in a population have gained immunity against a virus, effectively stopping its further spread.


More information

For more on COVID-19, see the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


SOURCES: Thomas Gut, DO, associate chair, medicine, Staten Island University Hospital, New York City; Robert Glatter, MD, emergency physician, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City; The Lancet, news release, Jan. 8, 2021



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