Amidst a sputtering economy and lock down protests, China has finally relaxed its Zero-COVID policies, ahead of the Lunar New Year.
But as a result, COVID cases have soared, with some estimates putting infection numbers at 900 million in January 2023. Poor vaccination rates, especially among the elderly, left tens of thousands dead. The lack of transparency has worried some in the global medical community, eyeing possible variants emerging as the virus burns through the middle kingdom.
What is behind this policy shift? Why has the virus spread so quickly in China? And what does it mean for the next phase of the pandemic?