COVID Back In China With A Vengeance
Traditional Chinese calendar contains 24 solar terms but it may be time to replace these with an updated version for China’s COVID-19 calendar, which would include Summer Hope, Provincial Lockdown, and Winter Surge, to name a few.
Photo Insert: China has insisted on sticking with locally-made vaccines like Sinovac, which have been found to have low efficacy.
They are certainly becoming wearily familiar, James Palmer wrote for Foreign Policy.
On Monday, Nov. 21, China recorded more than 28,000 new cases a day, nearly passing the country’s record. Official death figures are still out of step with confirmed case numbers, suggesting some COVID-19 deaths are not accounted for, as in Shanghai earlier this year.
Authorities have closed public spaces again—especially in Beijing, Shanghai, and other mega-cities—and discouraged travel. The COVID-19 restrictions have affected 20 percent of China’s GDP, according to the Japanese firm Nomura.
Mass testing, one of China’s most unpopular and invasive pandemic policies, has returned. That can mean a sudden knock on the door for a test, residential compound-wide testing in the early morning, or spending hours lining up to register a test result in a health app.
False positives and the overcautious approach to close contacts lead to many people getting swept into quarantine. And China’s quarantine has become increasingly unpleasant, with overcrowded and undersupplied facilities.
Not only is China’s vaccination rate for people over 60 low, but the figure for people over 80—the most vulnerable group—is appalling. Only around half of people over 80 have received their primary vaccines, with just 20 percent getting a booster. Chinese-made vaccines also underperform mRNA vaccines.
That means any COVID-19 outbreak would likely cause significant deaths among the over-60s, and especially the over-80s, as what happened in Hong Kong early this year. China’s failure to vaccinate its over-80 population is a strategic blunder and proof of the limits of the state’s coercive power.
When the vaccines were first deployed, China targeted its working-age population rather than the most vulnerable, citing a lack of clinical trial data for those over 60 and prioritizing the economy.