Vaccines are key to China’s zero-Covid exit, but still a challenge

China’s government looks to be starting to roll back its zero-Covid policy. But after three years of saying the resource-intensive, economically damaging elimination strategy is the only way to go, experts say it will be a medical and political challenge to end it.

Much of China’s exit strategy is riding on vaccinations, but this is where Beijing has great challenges. China’s elderly population is disproportionately unvaccinated, leaving tens of millions of vulnerable people at far greater risk from the ravages of Covid-19. About 90% of China’s population is vaccinated, but among those over 60 only about 69% have had at least three doses. Above 80 years of age, the figure drops to about 40%.

At a press conference on Tuesday, the national health commission announced a renewed push to boost these numbers, with a mix of public information campaigns, targeted programmes in retirement and care homes, and more forceful action including requiring those who refuse to vaccinate to…

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This article was written by Helen Davidson in Taipei and originally published on