Focus Shifts Away from COVID-19 Prevention Toward Preventing Severe Cases in Some Regions


Increasing efforts have focused on treating COVID-19 among patients in rural areas, who can take advantage of traditional medicines.

Chinese health authorities have been leveraging traditional Chinese medicines (TCMs) to fight COVID-19, particularly as the country shifts its approach from preventing all infections to preventing severe cases and protecting public health.

On January 5, China issued the 10th version of its diagnosis and treatment protocol for COVID-19, which reflects the use of TCM in treating severe and critical cases. The new protocol introduces targeted TCM treatments for severe cases as well as relatively complete therapeutic TCM solutions for children. The country has also developed a unique treatment plan combining both TCM and Western medicine for severe and critically ill COVID-19 patients.

“First, intervention can be stratified for patients,” said Huang Luqi, deputy head of the National Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine, in a press conference earlier this month. “Patients can choose proper TCM for home treatment to reduce the overloading risk and pressure on medical institutions and resources.”

Huang also noted that patients with mild symptoms can depend on TCM as their primary treatment, and TCM plays a role in recovery. After nucleic acid tests return a negative result, many patients still struggle with cough, fatigue, sweating, and other symptoms.

“TCM can treat those symptoms and exert its function in overall regulation of the body as a whole,” Huang said in the press conference.

China has also been focusing more efforts on patients in rural areas, who can also take advantage of TCM. In Daming County, Handan City of north China’s Hebei Province, physicians are going to rural sites and providing free consultations and diagnosis to elderly patients, as well as distributing free medicines. Many of these treatments are TCM and mixtures.

“Our hospital and the fellow hospitals are sending doctors to villages twice a week,” said Yang Chenjuan, MD, a physician from the Daming Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine. “We also provide them with free Chinese herbal medicines, herbs for foot baths and TCM fumigations, as well as offer more health advice.”

Companies that manufacture TCMs in China are also using advanced manufacturing processes to ensure adequate supplies, and refining and improving TCM theories and practices to contain diseases. For example, production lines at the pharmaceutical manufacturer Zhendong Group are running 24 hours a day to make treatments preventing COVID-19.

“We have invested more in production of proprietary Chinese medicines with modern concepts, from the cultivation and storage of Chinese herbs to product development,” said Li Anping, president of Zhendong Group. “This is an opportunity for us to give back to society.”


CGTN: TCM continues to play significant role in treating COVID-19. News release. PR Newswire; January 11, 2023. Accessed January 17, 2023.

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