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China announces vaccination progress amid reopening pressure

Yahoo Finance’s Anjalee Khemlani joins the Live show to discuss reports that China is aiming to reopen its cities that were placed under lockdown due to the rise in COVID cases.

Video transcript

[AUDIO LOGO]

BRIAN SOZZI: All right, this market action happening after China's top health officials pledged a new push to speed up COVID-19 shots for the elderly. Officials announced this in their first press briefing since protests erupted across China against the country's lockdown restrictions. For more, let's bring in Yahoo Finance's senior health care reporter, Anjalee Khemlani. Anjalee.

ANJALEE KHEMLANI: That's right, Brian. So we know that, of course, China has been facing a lot of pressure because of that recent spike in COVID cases. But as Julie just recently said, they did see the first reduction in a week. But now what's happening, is that China is faced with deciding what to do moving forward. They were asked today whether or not they plan on easing the COVID restrictions, that very strict zero COVID policy. No response there.

Meanwhile, focusing on vaccinations instead, especially of the elderly. Now, that has been a struggle. While much of the world has focused on the elderly population, China has had a lot of hesitancy and faced a lot of struggle in getting that population vaccinated due to a dearth of information on the vaccine itself, that home grown vaccine supply that they're using rather than the Pfizer or Moderna that we know is available elsewhere.

So they're currently facing that issue. They have said that they've increased since the beginning half of the year when it was just about 50% of those 80 and older. Now they're nearing 70%, 80%. So that's a big push in the, sorry, closer to 90% for the initial boost, initial doses. And then they're slowly increasing on the boosters.

And that's where they're even reducing the timeline for that, saying that boosters can be given after three months of the initial doses. And that's a shorter timeline that what we've seen globally. But that's in order to push more protection on that elderly population that they say is the reason why that zero COVID policy is still in place.

BRAD SMITH: Especially around this time of year, medical professionals are warning about a triple demic particularly. But for what we around COVID right now, in this go around, what are the transmissibility rates that we've seen? What's even the mortality that we've seen in this most recent variant?

ANJALEE KHEMLANI: So recently, the transmissibility has been higher. That's really where the concern is coming from. We know that these Omicron sub variants are quickly spreading, and they're very, much more of them, rather than those like waves of just one variant at a time that we saw earlier in the pandemic. So that's what's actually causing more concern.

And the one that's affecting China right now, or has been sequenced more in China right now, is one of the more transmissible ones, to the point of look at what happened at Shanghai Disney, right. They were open. This is the fourth time they've had to shut down because of the COVID policies.

Even though much of the resort, the hotels are still open, but the park itself has had to close down just four days after reopening from their last lockdown because of a positive test. So that's really the situation that they're facing is just an uncertainty around all of the variants right now.

BRAD SMITH: Yahoo Finance's own Anjalee Khemlani breaking this all down for us. Thanks so much, Anj.