Born in Wuhan: lessons from COVID-19 epidemic in China

Cover Page

Cite item


The COVID-19 epidemic curve in China can be divided into several stages. Despite transparency in informing the world public about clusters of undiagnosed viral pneumonia, the country’s health care at the first stage of the epidemic was not ready to provide adequate and rapid response for a fast increase in the number of patients with COVID-19, infection control measures were not fully implemented, which also led to a large number of nosocomial cases of infection among medical workers and patients. Socially vulnerable groups of the population did not refer for medical assistance in a timely manner due to the lack of the disease danger understanding and also in connection with the high cost for them of medical aid. At the second stage, simultaneously with the restrictive measures introduced by the government, the entire health care system was rebooted: free medical care for patients with COVID-19 was provided and the strictest infection control measures were implemented, multi-level contact tracking system using IT technologies was organized, and the capacity of hospitals was increased many times. Through the joint efforts of ministries, mass media, social networks and volunteer movements, an unprecedented social mobilization of the population was achieved. Strict implementation of the entire set of measures aimed at fighting the epidemic allowed to take it under strict control at the third stage and practically eliminate the epidemic after 2,5 months. China’s response to the COVID-19 epidemic can be useful to other countries, in fighting the current pandemic and in preparing for a response to biological threats in the future.

About the authors

A. V. Semenov

St. Petersburg Pasteur Institute; Pavlov First St. Petersburg State Medical University

Author for correspondence.
ORCID iD: 0000-0003-3223-8219

Alexander V. Semenov – PhD (Biology), Deputy Director for Innovation, Head of the Laboratory of Virology and Immunology HIV, St. Petersburg Pasteur Institute; Professor, Department of Immunology, Pavlov First St. Petersburg State Medical University

197101, St. Petersburg, Mira str., 14
Phone: +7 (812) 233-20-92 

Russian Federation

N. Yu. Pshenichnaya

National Medical Research Center of Phthisiopulmonology and Infectious Diseases; Rostov State Medical University

ORCID iD: 0000-0003-2570-711X
PhD, MD (Medicine), Professor, Head of the Department of International Collaboration, National Research Medical Center of Phthisiopulmonology and Infectious Diseases, Moscow; Leading Researcher, Central Research Laboratory, Rostov State Medical University, Rostov-onDon Russian Federation


  1. Ambrus A., Field E., Gonzalez R. Loss in the time of cholera: long-run impact of a disease epidemic on the urban landscape. Am. Econom. Rev., 2020, vol. 110, no. 2, pp. 475–525. doi: 10.1257/aer.20190759
  2. Chan J.F.W., Yuan S., Kok K.H., To K.K.W., Chu H., Yang J., Tsoi H.W. A familial of pneumonia associated with the 2019 novel coronavirus indicating person-to-person transmission: a study of a family cluster. Lancet, 2020. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jiaa077
  3. Cucinotta D., Vanelli M. WHO declares COVID-19 a pandemic. Acta Biomed., 2020, vol. 91, no. 1, pp. 157–160. doi: 10.23750/abm.v91i1.9397
  4. Diagnosis and treatment protocol for novel coronavirus pneumonia (Trial Version 6, Revised). The General Office of National Health Commission 18 February 2020, 13 p.
  5. Elfiky A. Sofosbuvir can inhibit the newly emerged coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in Wuhan, China. China (1/20/2020).
  6. Guo Y.R., Cao Q.D., Hong Z.S., Tan Y.Y., Chen S.D., Jin H.J., Tan K.S., Wang D.Y., Yan Y. The origin, transmission and clinical therapies on coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak — an update on the status. Military Med. Res., vol. 7, no. 1: 11. doi: 10.1186/s40779-020-00240-0
  7. Kon W., Agarwal P.P. Chest imaging appearance of COVID-19 infection. Radiol. Cardiothorac. Imaging, 2020, vol. 2, no. 1: e200028. doi: 10.1148/ryct.2020200028
  8. Li H., Wang Y.M., Xu J.Y., Cao B. Potential antiviral therapeutics for 2019 Novel Coronavirus. Zhonghua Jie He He Hu Xi Za Zhi = Chinese Journal of Tuberculosis and Respiratory Diseases, vol. 43, no. 3, pp. 170–172. doi: 10.3760/cma.j.issn.1001-0939.2020.03.004
  9. Li Q., Guan X., Wu P., Wang X., Zhou L., Tong Y., Xing X. Early transmission dynamics in Wuhan, China, of novel coronavirusinfected pneumonia. N. Engl. J. Med., 2020, no. 382, pp. 1199–1207. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa2001316
  10. Linders D. From e-government to we-government: defining a typology for citizen coproduction in the age of social media. Government Information Quarterly, 2012, vol. 29, no. 4, pp. 446–454. doi: 10.1016/j.giq.2012.06.003
  11. Lu H. Drug treatment options for the 2019-new coronavirus (2019-nCoV). BioScience Trends, 2020. doi: 10.5582/bst.2020.01020
  12. Marmot M. The influence of income on health: views of an epidemiologist. Health Affairs, 2002, vol. 21, no. 2, pp. 31–46.
  13. National Healthcare Security Administration. URL: (02.04.2020).
  14. ProMED-mail. Pneumonia — China (Guangdong): RFI; ProMED-mail 2003; 10 Feb:2003 20030210.0357.
  15. ProMED-mail. Undiagnosed pneumonia — China (HU): RFI. ProMED-mail 2019; 30 Dec:2019 1230.6864153.
  16. Rong K., Zhou D., Tang K. We-governance and the block of COVID-2019 27.03.2020. URL: (02.04.2020).
  17. The novel coronavirus pneumonia emergency response epidemiology team. The epidemiological characteristics of an outbreak of 2019 novel coronavirus diseases COVID-19. China CCDC Weekly, 2020, no. 2, pp. 1–10. URL: (02.04.2020).
  18. Wang Z., Tang K. Combating COVID-19: health equity matters. Nature Med., 2020. doi: 10.1038/s41591-020-0823-6
  19. World Health Organization. Pneumonia of unknown cause — China. URL: (02.04.2020).
  20. World Health Organization. Report of the WHO-China joint mission on coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). 16–24 February 2020. URL: (02.04.2020).
  21. World Health Organization. WHO statement regarding cluster of pneumonia cases in Wuhan, China. 9 January 2020. URL: (02.04.2020).

Copyright (c) 2020 Semenov A.V., Pshenichnaya N.Y.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

СМИ зарегистрировано Федеральной службой по надзору в сфере связи, информационных технологий и массовых коммуникаций (Роскомнадзор).
Регистрационный номер и дата принятия решения о регистрации СМИ: серия ПИ № ФС 77 - 64788 от 02.02.2016.

This website uses cookies

You consent to our cookies if you continue to use our website.

About Cookies