China's top medical adviser warns country is vulnerable to second wave of COVID-19 infections

China's top medical adviser warns country is vulnerable to second wave of COVID-19 infections
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China’s top medical advisor Zhong Nanshan said the country, which has experienced a reprieve from the coronavirus the past few months, is still vulnerable to a second wave. 

"The majority of ... Chinese at the moment are still susceptible of the Covid-19 infection, because (of) a lack of immunity," Zhong said in an interview with CNN. "We are facing (a) big challenge, it's not better than the foreign countries I think at the moment."

China was the first country to be hit hard by COVID-19, especially in and around the city of Wuhan, where the virus is believed to have originated. 

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Zhong also said that local officials were not being honest at first about the scale of the pandemic. 

"The local authorities, they didn't like to tell the truth at that time," Zhong told CNN.

U.S. government officials including Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike PompeoNoem to travel to South Carolina for early voting event Poll: Trump leads 2024 GOP primary trailed by Pence, DeSantis Pence v. Biden on China: Competing but consistent visions MORE and President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden administration to keep Trump-era rule of turning away migrants during pandemic On The Money: Biden, Pelosi struggle with end of eviction ban | Trump attorney says he will fight release of tax returns Lack of transatlantic cooperation on trade threatens global climate change goals MORE have claimed in the past that China was not forthcoming about the severity of the coronavirus and their efforts to contain it. 

New cases in China have appeared stagnant after the country took an aggressive approach to combat the spread of the disease. As of Saturday, China has reported about 84,000 coronavirus cases, compared to more than 1.4 million in the U.S., according to data compiled by by Johns Hopkins University. 

Zhong said Chinese authorities should not be complacent, since achieving herd immunity in such a large country is still far from reality.

For example, fresh clusters of coronavirus cases have emerged across China in recent weeks, in Wuhan, where the virus originated, as well as the northeastern provinces of Heilongjiang and Jilin.

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Zhong said three Chinese vaccines are under clinical trials in the country, though a "perfect" solution won’t likely be available for years.

His comments come as Trump has promised a vaccine will be available in the U.S. by January, a goal public health officials have acknowledged is ambitious. 

"We have to test again and again and again ... by using different kinds of vaccines,” Zhong told CNN. “It's too early to draw any conclusion which kind of vaccine is available for this kind of coronavirus ... that's why I suggest that the final approval of vaccine (will) take much longer.”