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A look inside China’s battle with rising COVID-19 cases

Yahoo Finance’s Anjalee Khemlani joins the Live show to provide an inside look at the important events happening in China.

Video Transcript

ANJALEE KHEMLANI: Welcome back to Yahoo Finance Live. This is What Just Happened, and I'm Anjalee Khemlani. So far, we've heard the various ways China's COVID struggles have trickled down into the economy and business. But it's time to focus on the one thing itself that started it all-- COVID. China took its first major steps this week to loosening a strict zero-COVID policy. And for the first time, the nation all but ending the threat of mass lockdowns. Here's a recap of what happened and what China is facing in the months ahead.

The timeline-- the apartment fire on November 24. That's what resulted in 10 deaths and was a final straw in a series of events that began in October. First, Foxconn locks down and keeps a closed loop on its workers. But that strategy backfires as migrant workers start to flee. The city of Zhengzhou then locks down, followed by Shanghai. Around this time, China is starting to take small steps to ease restrictions, such as reducing quarantining for inbound travelers as well as reducing the number of close contacts.

But then protests erupts at the Foxconn plant Apple's biggest iPhone manufacturer. Once again, the Chinese find themselves struggling to access basic necessities and facing limitations on where they can go and constantly taking PCR tests. But then that deadly fire on November 14 really sparks in the nation's northwest area and protests erupt across the country. That's when President Xi then has to take some steps to ease the policy.

It's the first time the Chinese can start to move freely, except for areas of high circulation, and will now be limited to just buildings and floors rather than entire cities or neighborhoods. But the big problem with all this is it's the winter season. We know that COVID and other respiratory viruses thrive. And some projections estimate millions of cases and China potentially reaching 2 million deaths. Because of its lockdown policies, China has successfully curbed these kinds of outbreaks and these numbers that we saw around the globe.

But it means that the population is more vulnerable. There's less vaccination rates, especially in the elderly. They're more susceptible to severe COVID and death as a result of not having exposure to the virus. And the efficacy of the country's home-grown vaccines are also in question, even as the country is working to put its own mRNA contender on the market and has been reportedly weighing imports only for the non-Chinese population of Pfizer's vaccine. And so putting it all together, it paints a very concerning picture as the virus will continue to strain the economy. Over to you, Akiko.

- Yeah. Anjalee, really quickly here, because I know you follow this very closely, on the vaccines themselves, I mean, what are the prospects for an mRNA vaccine that's developed domestically? I mean, we have heard the criticism before that the domestic vaccines simply aren't effective enough.

ANJALEE KHEMLANI: They aren't effective-- I would actually compare it to maybe even the AstraZeneca vaccine. It's a similar process where some populations may benefit more than others based on the efficacy, based on the technology. The mRNA contender they're looking to get on the market by I believe March was the earliest I saw. So in the early part of 2023.

Whether or not it can stand up and hold up to Pfizer and Moderna and sort of the baseline that they've set is really what will remain to be seen. They already have a nasal vaccine on the market, which is something we don't have here and the US market is trying to catch up with the rest of the world. So it really is a mixed bag in terms of the picture of that efficacy. And we don't have any results yet to figure out.

- It's certainly going to be critical over the next few months. And I know you're going to be watching that. Anjalee Khemlani, thanks so much for that.