29 November 2022   1 comment

Protests against the lockdown policies in China continued over the weekend, and it’s not clear how the protests will evolve. The Chinese government has been following a “zero Covid” strategy which tried to control the pandemic by tightly restricting the movement of Chinese citizens. The lockdowns have been damaging both economically and politically. The strategy did in fact keep the death rate rather low, but it is not clear that it can be effective over the long term as new variants of the disease keep emerging and as the vaccines being used in China are significantly less effective than the mRna vaccines developed in the US and Europe. Indeed, Covid cases are increasing quite dramatically in China:

The Chinese government has a difficult decision. It has already loosened some of the lockdown requirements but there doesn’t seem to be afollow on policy of implementing a more effective vaccine strategy to replace the lockdowns. National Public Radio indicates that China is ill-prepared for an outbreak of covid:

“China has inadequate hospitals, with fewer than four intensive care beds per 100,000 people — about a quarter of the rate in the United States. Chinese experts estimate if Beijing was to lift lockdowns immediately, the overwhelming number of hospitalizations would collapse its medical system.

“And while overall coronavirus vaccination rates are officially high, the rate among the elderly is low; nearly 40% of people over 80 have not had a booster yet. Researchers say made-in-China vaccines for COVID-19 are less effective than mRNA vaccines provided in other countries….

“Xi Chen, a public health expert at Yale University, says that’s a big problem, and points to what happened in Hong Kong in the spring as a cautionary tale.

“‘”Hong Kong was around a very similar booster rate when the omicron wave hit,’ Chen says. ‘More than 6,000 people died.’

“With a population of 7.4 million, Hong Kong, for a period, had the highest recorded COVID-19 fatality rate on Earth. The same could happen in mainland China, only on a much bigger scale, he says.

The Chinese government is therefore rolling the dice. By loosening the restrictions on movement, it will buy some time to relieve the growing resentment over the zero-Covid policy. But if the variants of the Covid virus bypass the protections of Chinese vaccines, then China will either have to accept a higher death rate or turn to the West for mRNA vaccines. Both of those alternatives may threaten the legitimacy of the government still further.

Posted November 29, 2022 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

One response to “29 November 2022

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  1. Thank you for the update.

    Like

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