• =?UTF-8?B?Q2hpbmEgRG9lc27igJl0IFdhbnQgdG8g4oCYTGl2ZSBXaXRo4oCZIENvdmlkL

    From (David P.)@21:1/5 to All on Mon Sep 13 00:56:27 2021
    China Doesn’t Want to ‘Live With’ Covid. But It May Have To.
    By Yanzhong Huang, 9/7/21, NY Times

    China’s zero-infections policy is no longer working as
    designed. At the outset of the pandemic, the policy success-
    fully drove down cases — and was adopted by other countries
    — but the Delta variant changed the game & shows that this
    strategy no longer fits. It’s time for China to change tack,
    as the socioeconomic and public health costs now outweigh
    the benefits with this highly transmissible new variant.
    If it doesn’t, China and its people will suffer.

    While other countries were still in the grips of pandemic,
    China by early April 2020 had managed to get the virus
    under control within its territory. It implemented a zero-
    infections policy, under which the identification of even
    one local Covid case would trigger draconian measures in
    order to reset local cases to zero. To fend off imported
    cases, China imposed some of the world’s toughest inter-
    national travel restrictions

    China is not the only country to pursue a zero-tolerance
    approach toward Covid-19. Other countries that did, like
    New Zealand, are also now seeing less success. But few
    would dispute that China’s authoritarian govt, with
    unrivaled power & resources, is in a much better position
    than almost any other nation to quickly eliminate new
    cases and make the strategy work. So the fact that the
    policy isn’t working as intended is bad news for China and
    any other country aiming to fully stamp out the virus in
    the same manner.

    For over a year, the policy showed good results. Small &
    sporadic outbreaks were usually quelled before cases
    could spread to other regions. Local officials relied on
    the extreme-measures songbook: They launched mass testing
    for Covid-19, used QR codes to trace and control people’s
    movements & rounded up entire neighborhoods for mandatory

    Then came the Delta variant. An outbreak that started in
    Nanjing, in China’s eastern Jiangsu Province, on July 20
    quickly spread to at least 17 provinces, causing the worst
    outbreak since Wuhan. Now over a month has elapsed since
    the first Nanjing cases were identified — and the Chinese
    govt still has been unable to completely break the domestic

    transmission chain. As of Sunday, there were still 3 inter-
    mediate-risk Covid areas nationwide, acc. to the govt’s
    classification system. In Yangzhou, which became the new
    outbreak epicenter in Jiangsu Province, residents were
    prevented from leaving their homes for a month & underwent
    at least 12 mandatory rounds of nucleic acid testing.

    The failure of such high-profile & high-powered measures
    to bring a speedy end to this outbreak highlights the
    diminishing returns of the zero-tolerance approach.

    There also are signs that this approach is becoming counter-
    productive: Some 10% of the cases in Yangzhou were traced
    to a site for Covid testing.

    There are worrying long-term secondary effects, as well.
    Increased absenteeism, drops in employee productivity and
    disruption to supply chains threaten overall economic
    growth in China. Newly released data from the National
    Bureau of Stats suggests that strict lockdown measures
    during the recent Delta variant outbreak have contributed
    to a slowdown in the Chinese economy, sending nonmanufac-
    turing activity into contractionary territory for the
    first time since Feb 2020.

    Some Chinese health experts have begun to question the
    zero-tolerance strategy, though the govt has not looked
    kindly upon it. A teacher in Jiangxi Province was detained
    for 15 days in August for suggesting that Yangzhou
    experiment with a different approach to epidemic control.
    Dr. Zhang Wenhong — dubbed China’s Dr. Fauci — said China
    should learn to coexist with the virus but backtracked.

    One rationale for sustaining the existing approach has
    been to buy time for China to reach herd immunity thru
    vaccination. Delta makes this argument irrelevant. Zhong
    Nanshan, a top public health adviser, said China can
    achieve herd immunity with around an 80% vaccination rate.
    But he appears to have used an unrealistically high
    efficacy rate for Chinese vaccines. Based on my calcs,
    reaching herd immunity is not possible with the existing
    vaccine regimen in China. It’s likely there will continue
    to be some cases, though vaccination can still prevent the
    most severe impacts of the disease. It’s no wonder, then,
    that a senior official with China’s C.D.C. admitted that
    the country could continue to experience outbreaks even
    after reaching 80% vaccination.

    But sticking with the current approach would transform
    China into a hermit nation that could be dangerous. If
    there are low levels of natural immunity and vaccines are
    less effective at protecting against new variants of the
    virus, then reaching zero infections will not be possible
    as the country opens up.

    China can’t afford to keep its borders closed forever.
    And the pandemic is not over. Given the still-low and
    unequal coverage of Covid vaccines worldwide and the
    rampant spread of the Delta variant, this pandemic may
    last another two years or more.

    Other govts already have shifted to policies aimed at
    “living with,” not eradicating, Covid-19. Singapore
    turned to a strategy of phased and contingent reopening
    backed by mass vaccination. Even Australia, arguably the
    most zealous liberal democracy in pursuing a zero-tolerance
    strategy, now has proposed a road map to reopen. China
    would be wise to take heed and pivot. A strategy focused
    on preventing severe cases and deaths and administering
    vaccines with high efficacy would be in China’s best
    interest, both in the short and long term.


    --- SoupGate-Win32 v1.05
    * Origin: fsxNet Usenet Gateway (21:1/5)