Top Chinese government adviser warns of potential second coronavirus wave
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Top Chinese government adviser warns of potential second coronavirus wave

Zhong Nanshan cites lack of immunity among population as reason for pessimism, says Wuhan authorities initially refused to give true numbers on outbreak

People wearing face masks wait in line to be tested for COVID-19 on a street in Wuhan, in China's central Hubei province, May 16, 2020. (Hector RETAMAL / AFP)
People wearing face masks wait in line to be tested for COVID-19 on a street in Wuhan, in China's central Hubei province, May 16, 2020. (Hector RETAMAL / AFP)

BEIJING, China — China faces a potential second wave of coronavirus infections due to a lack of immunity among its population, its government’s senior medical adviser has warned.

After months of lockdowns and curbs on travel, China has largely brought the virus under control, but fears of a second wave have risen as clusters have emerged in northeast provinces and in the central city of Wuhan.

“The majority of… Chinese at the moment are still susceptible to the COVID-19 infection, because (of) a lack of immunity,” Zhong Nanshan, the public face of government’s response to the pandemic, told CNN.

“We are facing (a) big challenge,” Zhong added. “It’s not better than the foreign countries I think at the moment.”

Zhong, who helped expose the scale of the 2003 outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), also said authorities in ground-zero Wuhan had under-reported cases during the early days of the pandemic.

Zhong Nanshan, the Chinese government’s senior medical adviser on the coronavirus, on February 27, 2020. (Screenshot: YouTube)

“The local authorities, they didn’t like to tell the truth at that time,” said Zhong, who was part of a team of experts sent to Wuhan to investigate the outbreak.

“I didn’t believe that result (the number of cases reported) so I (kept) asking and then, you have to give me the real number,” he said.

But he added he believed data published after Wuhan was locked down in late January, and when the central government took control of the response, “will be correct.”

The novel coronavirus has killed more than 310,000 people, according to tallies from official sources, with scientists around the world racing to find a vaccine.

Zhong cautioned that a “perfect” vaccine for a disease that the World Health Organization (WHO) says may never disappear could take years.

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