China is expected to ease travel restrictions once it attains herd immunity towards the end of the year.
The world’s second largest economy targets to vaccinate 40 per cent of its 1.4 billion population by June. Vaccination rates currently hover in the single digits.
Once 70 to 80 per cent of the country’s population is vaccinated, travellers to China could see a variety of restrictions, including quarantine and testing requirements, eased or lifted altogether.
“We think [international travel] is possible next spring,” said Zhang Wenhong, one of the country’s leading infectious disease experts told state broadcaster CCTV, according to the South China Morning Post.
“Given China’s current vaccination speed, I think we will have an immune barrier next spring. Then we will have to communicate with other countries.”
Zhang noted that other jurisdictions nearing herd immunity could leapfrog China in resuming cross-border travel, such as through reciprocal vaccine passport recognition and two-way travel bubbles.
“If the major economies in the world reach an immune barrier at the end of this year, they will definitely reconnect. Then China will face the challenge of whether we can open up to other places,” Zhang added.