I noted a month ago that President Xi and the CCP have taken credit for relatively low (reported) deaths from COVID, due to strict lockdown protocols. By “strict” we mean locking down whole cities and blockading residents in their apartment buildings for months at a stretch. However, public protests rose to an unprecedented level, and so the Chinese government has done a surprising full 180 policy change, towards almost no restrictions.
According to Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel in the Wall Street Journal, the way this policy is being carried out has the makings of a mass human tragedy:
Zero Covid was always untenable and had to be ended. But it could have been done responsibly.
Among other things, that would involve buying Pfizer and Moderna bivalent vaccines and administering them to the elderly and other high-risk people, and purchasing Paxlovid and molnupiravir to treat those who test positive. Supplies of these products are ample. Authorities could continue mask mandates to reduce transmission. And China could institute a rigorous wastewater testing program to identify potential SARS-CoV-2 variants as soon as possible – and commit to sharing the data with the world.
Due to nationalistic pride, China has spurned the purchase of effective mRNA vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna, pushing instead the less-effective in-house vaccine.
Readers may recall in the early days of COVID spread in the West, masking and social distancing were promoted, not because they would prevent everyone from ultimately becoming infected, but because these measures would “flatten the curve” (i.e. reduce the peak load on hospitals at any one time, but instead spread it out over time). China is headed into a very un-flattened infection curve; some 800 million people (10% of the world’s population) may get COVID in the next 3 months, overwhelming hospitals and leading to over a million deaths. Besides the near-term human costs, this concentration of active COVID cases is likely to lead to a slew of new, even more virulent variants which will affect the rest of the world, along with China. What should help mitigate the situation is that the newer, most virulent variants of COVID may be somewhat less fatal than the original strain.
Why is the Chinese government doing it this way? Well, the sooner the country gets through mass exposure to the virus, the sooner everyone can get back to their factories and start producing stuff again. If in the process a bunch of (mainly older) people die, well, that’s just the price of progress. Let ‘er rip…
[U.S.] Epidemiologist and health economist Dr Eric Feigl-Ding estimate that 60 per cent of China’s population is likely to be infected over the next 90 days. “Deaths likely in the millions—plural,” he added.
According to Eric, bodies were seen piled up in hospitals in Northeast China. “Let whoever needs to be infected infected, let whoever needs to die die. Early infections, early deaths, early peak, early resumption of production,” the epidemiologist said terming it to be summary of Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) current goal.
But don’t expect any acknowledgement of mass death from the official Chinese media. Just as the initial COVID outbreak was denied and censored by the Chinese propaganda machine, so the current surge is being minimized. From Barrons:
On Friday, a party-run newspaper cited an official estimate of half a million daily new cases in the eastern city of Qingdao. By Saturday, the story had been amended to remove the figure, an AFP review of the article showed….
Several posts on the popular Weibo platform purporting to describe Covid-related deaths appeared to have been censored by Friday afternoon, according to a review by AFP journalists.
They included several blanked-out photos ostensibly taken at crematoriums, and a post from an account claiming to belong to the mother of a two-year-old girl who died after contracting the virus.
Posts about medicine shortages and instances of price gouging were also taken down, according to censorship monitor GreatFire.org.
And social media users have posted angry or sardonic comments in response to the perceived taboo around Covid deaths.
Many rounded on a state-linked local news outlet after it reported Wu Guanying — designer of the mascots for the 2008 Beijing Olympics — had died of a “severe cold” at the age of 67.
Perhaps we should not be surprised that the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention just reported zero COVID deaths for December 25 and 26.