China’s zero-Covid: Lessons for other countries

The scrapping of China’s draconian ‘zero-Covid’ policy was cheered by Chinese citizens. The hashtag “Saying Goodbye to Health Code” trended on social media sites as the dreaded Yellow and Red colored codes disappeared from their smartphone screens.

For the past three years, China has subjected its citizens to this inhumane ‘zero-covid’ policy. The policy meant intense testing, mindless quarantines, and hard lockdowns. The digital Health Code app became part of daily Chinese life. The Health Code system uses all sorts of information to assign Red, Yellow, and Green codes to each individual.

These Health Codes control the movement of citizens – from access to building entries to public transportation, malls, supermarkets, or just moving about in the city. A Green code in the app meant ‘safe.’ It gave an individual ability to move freely. A Yellow code required quarantine and self-isolation. Red code was the most feared one meaning the person has tested positive for the covid virus or is at risk of infection.

But in a move that took everyone by surprise, the Chinese government rescinded most of the covid mitigation measures, including the color code requirement. The new measures bar Chinese government officials from arbitrarily locking down neighborhoods and imposing other restrictions.

The Chinese covid bio-security state finally relented.

China’s ruling Chinese Communist Party under its leader, Xi Jinping, has repeatedly maintained the necessity to control the covid pandemic in the country with a strict “zero-covid” policy. However, discontent against the policy had been rising in the communist dictatorship country, most of it away from the glare of the world press.

What has catapulted this simmering anger into a full-blown protest is the deadly fire at an apartment complex in Urumqi, the capital city of Xinjiang. According to reports, the fire claimed at least ten lives and injured 9. Several social media reports also suggested that the access to the apartment building had been welded shut by the authorities as part of Xi’s covid mitigation strategy.

The protests quickly turned anti-CCP and leader Xi Jinping. Hundreds of Chinese citizens in Shanghai streets chanted, “Step down, Xi Jinping! Step down, Communist Party!” The blank placard sheets have become a powerful cry of defiance.

A man could later be seen berating the crowd for their protest.

“One day you’ll pay for everything you did today,” he said in videos seen by Reuters.
“The state will also have to pay the price for what it has done,” people shouted back.

As a large-scale outbreak of covid infections spreads across China, the protests also spread to various parts of the country, including dozens of university campuses. ‘We need democracy, the rule of law, and freedom of expression!’ chant students at Tsinghua University in Beijing, Chinese president Xi Jinping’s alma mater; call for an end to lockdowns and mass testing gathers steam on social media.

Some experts believe China has a majority of its citizens unexposed to the virus due to harsh lockdown measures of the Chinese Communist Party. Due to immunity debt, this absence of exposure makes them vulnerable to countless other viruses – RSV, flu, etc.

What is alarming in this background is that many academics, intellectuals, public health experts, and leaders of the “free world” had recommended and almost implemented the same China-style mitigation strategy for the rest of the world. So far, these individuals have escaped accountability and scrutiny unscathed, especially in India.

Those who objected to the lockdowns were ridiculed and vilified publicly by the establishment and media. Jay Bhattacharya, professor of medicine at Stanford University, was especially targeted by the media and Big Tech. Dr. Bhattacharya, along with Martin Kulldorff, professors of medicine at Harvard University, and Sunetra Gupta, professor of theoretical epidemiology and the University of Oxford, published the Great Barrington Declaration (GBD). In place of lockdowns and mass vaccination, the GBD proposed focused protection by which those with the most risk could be kept safe from severe illness and death.

“The idea that everybody needs to be vaccinated,” wrote Kulldorff and Bhattacharya in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, “is as scientifically baseless as the idea that nobody does. Covid vaccines are essential for older, high-risk people and their caretakers and advisable for many others. But those who have been infected are already immune.”

Lockdowns have caused immense harm and damage to our society. The economic shutdown wrecked the lives and livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people worldwide. Kids missed education as schools remained closed for over a year. Mental health issues and suicide rates among teens skyrocketed.

These CCP-style measures did not work in the US, thanks partially due to the Second Amendment right to bear arms. But folks would remember that in India, entire housing societies were sealed shut in Mumbai, Delhi, and other metro cities at the mere detection of a single “positive” case. Most Americans also resisted a digital vaccine passport. Many Indians have publicly and privately boasted about India’s digital vaccine certificates as a sign of scientific progress. But the use of the Chinese Health Code app should caution us against the dangers of the digital vaccine/health passport and tracing apps such as India’s Arogya Setu.

The risk of covid had a demographic gradient. Even among the most vulnerable, the IFR was less than 1%. Covid infection in healthy people in the pre-vaccine phase was exaggerated in many countries, including India. This gross exaggeration was fanned mainly by the rich and educated. The hysteria was also unprecedented.

While the Chinese government has relented, many governments are still clinging to unscientific Covid bureaucracy. The U.S., for example, still does not allow unvaccinated foreigners to enter the country, and many heavily Democrat-ruled U.S. cities and states still go back and forth on unscientific mask mandates. We all know by now that there isn’t any societal benefit to vaccination beyond whatever personal protection a vaccine may provide. Similarly, there isn’t a single scientific Randomized Control Trial that proves the efficacy of masks, especially cloth masks, in defense against an aerosol-based virus.

It is time for democratic nations to accept mistakes and move ahead with a robust scientific approach, not authoritarianism.



Views expressed above are the author’s own.


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