Global herd immunity against COVID-19 will take two to three years, China’s top respiratory disease expert said.

“With the development and marketing of vaccines, it will take at least two to three years to achieve herd immunity worldwide,” Zhong Nanshan was quoted as saying by state-run Xinhua news agency at an online conversation hosted by the University of Edinburgh on Tuesday night.

“Last year, two months after the epidemic was basically under control, we reopened our economy and resumed classes,” said Zhong, who was exchanging views with top US infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci during the event.

The duo urged global solidarity and cooperation to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since December 2019, when the first cases were detected in Wuhan, China, the pandemic has claimed over 2.54 million lives in 192 countries and regions.

Zhong and Fauci agreed that balancing economic development and epidemic prevention and control is a global challenge, and undue hasty return to the “normal life” might lead to a backlash of the epidemic.

“If we want to end this epidemic, we need appropriate science-based, evidence-based decisions by decision-makers in each country. Everyone should do their best. So we need global solidarity,” said Zhong, who is also an academician at the Chinese Academy of Engineering.

Meanwhile, Yang Xiaoming, the chief executive officer of China’s Sinopharm vaccine producer, said the company has completed COVID-19 clinical trials for groups aged 3-17 and will submit data for approval with authorities, according to Chinese daily Global Times.

Yin Weidong, the chief executive officer of Sinovac, said the company’s production capacity will be expanded to 2 billion doses per year by June.

Both the vaccines have been rolled out and China has supplied the vaccines to nearly 30 countries so far.

The Chinese civil aviation authority also ordered a two-week suspension of Emirates Airlines’ flight EK362 from Dubai to Guangzhou starting as of March 8 after six passengers tested positive for the coronavirus on Feb 20.

In a statement on Wednesday, China’s National Health Commission said 10 new imported virus cases were reported in the country.

The country has reported a total of 89,933 confirmed COVID-19 cases, including 4,636 deaths.

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