What price will China pay for its Covid-zero strategy in the face of Delta?
The country is going against a global trend to coexist with the virus and rely on vaccinations, making analysts worried
China has driven Covid-19 cases back to zero three times in the past five months, but outbreaks are flaring more frequently than ever, raising questions about how long the nation can persist with a strategy that’s leaving it increasingly isolated.
The gaps between major outbreaks in China have fallen from about two months in the second half of last year to as little as 12 days since May, when the country saw its first Delta cases. While China is still able to drive locally transmitted infections back to nil, the amount of virus-free time is getting shorter.
It’s becoming a showdown between a containment regime that’s arguably the world’s most comprehensive — featuring sealed borders, mass testing, exhaustive contact tracing and strict rules governing travel and movement — and a pathogen that’s becoming more adept at penetrating those defences designed to stop transmission...