But Zhong – also one of Beijing’s most trusted medical advisers – said that China would aim to inoculate 40% of its population by the end of June, while admitting it was going to be a challenging task ahead. “We don’t have much time, and we still have a large amount of work to do,” he said.
Without charting a path to achieving “herd immunity”, the current policy of zero-tolerance for cases meant, for example, that an entire neighbourhood in the southern city of Guangzhou was shut down for door-to-door testing yesterday, because of a handful of positive cases. A national mass vaccination programme began roaring into action three weeks after Zhong’s pledge. Provinces and cities then came up with their own plans to meet the target, and to compete with each other.