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China’s surprise decision to clear Pfizer Inc.’s coronavirus pill for use offers rare insight into how Beijing may be planning to move beyond the “COVID zero” strategy that’s leaving it increasingly isolated.

Paxlovid’s conditional approval over the weekend makes it the first foreign pharmaceutical product China has endorsed for COVID-19, with the country until now sticking steadfastly to domestically developed vaccines and therapeutics, even withholding approval for the highly potent shot co-produced by Pfizer and BioNTech SE.

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