Former CE of Hospital Authority says COVID-19 pandemic has evolved into endemic urging govt to allow citizens to ‘return to normal life’

Dr. Leung Pak-yin

21st September 2022 – (Hong Kong) Dr. Leung Pak-yin, the former chief executive of the Hospital Authority, quoted an article co-authored by government expert adviser Yuen Kwok-yung and three other Hong Kong University (HKU) professors on his social media platform yesterday (20th) and referred to the fact that COVID-19 virus has evolved from a pandemic into endemic. Hong Kong should allow vaccinated citizens to return to normal, reduce inconvenience, and focus resources on protecting the unvaccinated.

Leung believes that this logic and direction coincide with the proposal put forward by the Chinese epidemiologist and hepatologist Li Lanjuan and other experts to return the current management and control of Class A infectious diseases to the management of Class B infectious diseases in a timely manner. The main subjects for constant testing should be those with symptoms and high-risk individuals, such as unvaccinated children and the elderly, chronically ill patients, and pregnant women.

He also added that it is not necessary to continue with nucleic acid testing because the effect of antigen rapid testing for several consecutive days is similar. He continued to point out that the COVID-19 virus has now infiltrated the community in Hong Kong. Routine sewage testing and compulsory testing notices are of little practical significance and should be stopped. Valuable resources should be used for measures with more long-term strategic value, such as increasing the vaccination rate of the elderly and the young. Such tests should be reserved for research purposes, rare outbreaks, or early warning signs of outbreaks at the trough of the epidemic as a means to assist in epidemic control.

International border reopening should be resumed soon but the government and all sectors of society still have to work hard in order for citizens to return to normal life.

Yuen Kwok-yung and the other 3 professors from HKU believe that based on the current vaccination rate and natural infection, it is estimated that more than 95% of the population has achieved a herd immunity against severe illness. The probability of another outbreak similar to the beginning of the year is very small. The article also pointed out that after the introduction of vaccines and antiviral drugs, the lethality of the COVID-19 has weakened, and it has become an endemic disease. It is recommended that the society should let the vaccinated citizens return to normal while gradually cancel all local social distancing measures.