The 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics and Paralympics kicked off last month while the omicron COVID-19 variant was rampant in China and the rest of the world. China’s “COVID zero” policy, with its strict restrictions on people’s movements, has faced a critical test.

COVID-19 is extremely difficult to contain as it can spread through stealth transmission from those who are asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic. Omicron is a distinctly more infectious strain than previous variants of concerns.

Chinese-made COVID-19 vaccines from makers such as Sinovac and Sinopharm, regarded as key pillars in the country's strategy to stamp out the virus, have been found to be less effective than mRNA vaccines. This means that they cannot be fully relied upon to protect Chinese citizens' lives and health.