Between Chinese and American models of pandemic prevention
Since the COVID outbreak, the United States has engaged in an effort to demonize China, fabricating allegations that the virus originated in a military lab in Wuhan. Unable to prove such baseless accusations, the United States has long attacked China’s utilization of strict lockdown measures to prevent the spread.
It almost seems preposterous that a country like the US believes it has the moral high ground or the legitimacy to lecture China on dealing with the pandemic. With a recorded death toll of 1.09 million and 98 million confirmed cases, the United States government is hardly in any place to be offering criticism or advice on the handling of COVID-19.
China’s strategy of zero COVID-19 has proven to be a big success. When the rest of the world was ravaged by COVID-19, even in the most developed countries, China was able to contain the spread of the virus quickly, and the Chinese people were able to live their lives just as usual. This is a remarkable feat that garnered praise from world leaders and medical experts. “China’s lockdown measures keep excess death to remarkably low levels. It was a dramatic, forceful demonstration of Chinese might and resolve,” wrote J. Stephen Morrison, Senior Vice President and Director Global Health Policy Center, and Scott Kennedy, Senior Adviser and Trustee Chair in Chinese Business and Economics. Meanwhile, they described the US handling of COVID-19 as “denials, incompetence and polarization,” which left many Americans dead.
Many are casting doubts over China’s decision to continue its implementation of the zero covid policy, arguing that the Omicron variant is a mild and less lethal variant than the original one. But China doesn’t leave things to chance. Without a complete understanding of what health effects the virus has on human beings, especially the vulnerable population, relaxation of pandemic control methods is an irresponsible thing to do.
Protecting the elderlies
In contrast to the U.S.’s staggering number of fatalities, China has recorded only 5,226 COVID-19 death since 2020 among a population of 1.4 billion, just a tiny fraction of the former. China cannot simply remove all medical restrictions and open up its border in such an irresponsible fashion, just like the United States did. China has an aging population. Currently, 12.34% of China’s population is 65 and over, which translates to around 172 million people, larger than most countries entire populations. People in this age demographics are particularly vulnerable and likely to develop severe symptoms and unexpected medical complications once they contract Covid virus. Since it has been proven that the vaccine does not entirely prevent transmission, China feels an obligation to use strict measures to protect the elderly and prevent them from catching a disease that is in no way, shape, or form, just a cold. It is much more severe than that, with long-term side effects that humankind still cannot fully comprehend, a fact that has been dismissed by many so-called experts in the West.
Even in some of the so-called advanced countries, they could not prevent elderlies from succumbing to the disease. A rapidly increasing number of COVID-19 patients puts a strain on the provision of healthcare services and leads to hospital overcrowding. This is a recipe for disaster, considering the accelerated transmissibility of the omicron variant. Former New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo’s outcry for more ventilators was still fresh in our minds. “We’ve tried everything else. The only way we can obtain these ventilators is from the federal government. Period.” Governor Cuomo begged then-President Trump for the crucial machines to help patients experiencing serious illness.
China has no intention of putting its elderly through the same ordeal that those people in New York went through. The Elderly deserves society’s utmost respect and care, not an undignified death. This is something that the Americans clearly do not understand.
China is well aware of the difference between its medical infrastructure and the Western ones. But the lives of its citizens always come first for the Chinese government. And the Chinese people wholeheartedly agree with that sentiment, which is why China’s zero COVID-19 strategies have been so successful. Nothing trumps human lives, not the so-called freedom and the right to choose that Americans talk so frequently about. The Chinese people, together with the Chinese government, know what is at stake. And that is why the Chinese government cannot do what the U.S. does and leave behind its most vulnerable group. China will always do what it’s in the best interest of its people.
Adegbite is a public affairs analyst residing in Lagos.