Since the release of Protocol for Prevention and Control of COVID-19 (Edition 7), coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) control and prevention has been facing new challenges in China with evolving domestic and global epidemiological situations. Since September 2020, China has experienced more than 20 local outbreak waves, all of which were able to be contained within a few weeks. Investigation and response to these importation-related outbreaks not only resulted in the accumulation of rich experience, but also exposed new problems requiring remediation. First, rural areas are potential weak links in epidemic prevention and control. Second, prevention of coronavirus importation and transmission risk is not limited to incoming travelers from overseas, as imported cold-chain food and goods and people with occupational exposure to these goods are now known to be able to cause local outbreaks. Third, there are weaknesses in the management of centralized quarantine. In addition to these three identified risks, another major change since publication of the seventh edition is that several COVID-19 vaccines developed by China have been granted conditional market authorization or emergency use approval by the National Medical Products Administration. In December 2020, China officially launched a large-scale vaccination campaign using the approved vaccines (1). Vaccination adds strength and new characteristics to the prevention and control of COVID-19.
The National Health Commission (NHC) and external experts worked together to update the seventh edition of the prevention and control protocol to an eighth edition based on carefully evaluated experience with the previous containment measures, and with anticipation of matters related to COVID-19 vaccination. In this article, we provide our interpretation of key revisions and updates to the seventh edition that can be found in the eighth edition of the protocol.