Over the past two years, China has used some of the strictest measures anywhere to keep Covid-19 out and long succeeded in holding numbers down. But as Omicron poses the biggest challenge since the start of the pandemic, the country is looking more boxed in by its own formula.
Beijing has repeatedly pointed to Western countries where the virus has run rampant as cautionary examples. But as the Omicron variant spreads inside China ahead of February’s 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, an uncomfortable reality is setting in: The country’s ability to keep the virus at bay has meant low levels of natural immunity. Vaccination rates are high, but how effective Chinese vaccines are against Omicron remains in question.