As the new year dawns with the development of a number of vaccines and promising drugs to treat COVID-19, experts are discussing a possible end to the pandemic.
Zhong Nanshan, a prominent respiratory expert, said that before China returns to pre-pandemic life, the global death rate from COVID-19 should fall to about 0.1 percent. Last month, this rate was estimated at around 1 percent to 2 percent.
In addition, the virus' basic reproduction rate, also known as R0, should be maintained at about 1 to 1.5, Zhong said. The reproduction rate for the Delta variant－the dominant strain worldwide－is estimated to fall between 5 and 8.
To achieve such goals, Zhong said the nation should expand vaccination coverage, enforce regular disease control measures at community level, and develop effective therapeutics.
As of Friday, more than 2.9 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses had been administered on the mainland, according to the National Health Commission.
Zhang Boli, an academician at the Chinese Academy of Engineering, who is a leading traditional Chinese medicine expert, said the pandemic would likely stabilize in spring, when China might ease its control policies.
"However, opening up completely will depend on the global situation, especially outbreaks in some African countries where the average vaccination rate is only about 10 percent," he said, adding that high alertness and close observation of new strains are still needed.