Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is still a necessity in the face of the Omicron variant, senior Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) expert Zhang Boli said in an interview with Xinhua on Tuesday.
As of noon on Tuesday, a total of 97 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in north China's Tianjin, a municipality of 13.86 million people that neighbors Beijing, with all the cases confirmed as the Omicron variant.
The source of the spread of Omicron in Tianjin -- whether it be people or objects -- is still under investigation, said Zhang, an academician with the Chinese Academy of Engineering and recipient of the national honorary title "the People's Hero" for his outstanding anti-epidemic efforts.
Zhang noted that, as a variant strain of COVID-19 virus, Omicron is characterized by its rapid spread and strong concealment.
"Many patients have no symptoms, so they don't seek medical treatment immediately, resulting in hidden transmission," he said.
"It is inappropriate to regard Omicron as 'flu with a larger size'," said Zhang. Although the symptoms caused by Omicron are mild, it can still cause serious harm to middle-aged and elderly people.
In addition, according to overseas data analysis, Omicron can cause a greater number of sequelae than flu, said Zhang.
Based on the analysis of Omicron, Zhang believes that seeking herd immunity is an irresponsible approach in terms of protecting people's lives and health. "China has adopted the approach of 'dynamic zero-case policy' for two years, and this has proved to be successful. We must continue to put people's lives first," said Zhang.
By putting people's lives first, instead of political considerations, China has implemented the "dynamic zero-case policy" to maintain the normal functioning of society and promote economic development at the same time.
As for how to fight Omicron, Zhang suggested that people should wear masks, wash their hands frequently, avoid gatherings where possible, and adjust their physical condition. In addition, vaccination remains a necessary measure.
"Vaccines are effective in preventing severe Omicron symptoms and deaths," Zhang said, citing the analysis of data from abroad.
The combined use of TCM and Western medicine is one of the biggest highlights in China's fight against the coronavirus disease.
"According to the new characteristics of Omicron, we have also created new TCM prescriptions, which are being examined by experts," Zhang added.
Omicron is more infectious but not more virulent, which causes Zhang to believe the epidemic may have reached a turning point.
"I think the world will see a significant change in the global pandemic by the spring. The overall situation will be much better once everyone has been vaccinated," Zhang said.