CCP locks down public into misery, while Covid virus parties.
UNSCIENTIFIC POLICY: The principle of “first, do no harm” or non-maleficence is the obligation of us physicians not to harm the patient. This also applies to health and public services. Chinese zero-Covid policy involves repeated testing of the entire population of an area with a lockdown of the entire office or commercial or industrial or residential area even if just one person tests positive. Locking down the entire uninfected population with that single infected person, exposes all of them to the virus, and harms them in many ways. No wonder the public is protesting while Covid cases are surging. Till now it was the world that was protesting the Chinese creation of the virus and abatement of its global spread.
DRACONIAN LOCKDOWNS: As if the risk of contracting Covid is not bad enough, the locked-up public is at risk of deprivation of essential supplies including medical help, food, and water since the logistics personnel are also locked up. Often children are separated from their parents and dependents from their caregivers. On 24 November night, a fire on the 15th floor of an apartment building in Urumqi, capital of north-western China’s Xinjiang region, killed 10 people and injured many trapped on the higher floors amid a stringent lockdown, for more than three months. Island nations like Taiwan and New Zealand tried the zero Covid policy and gave it up as ineffective.
UNTOLD MISERY: The sudden barricading of entire buildings and areas has prevented the unfortunate residents from earning a living and obtaining essentials, thus threatening their very existence. The zero-Covid policy is causing more misery and deaths than the virus. If the residents try to break out or protest, their means of communication are blocked and they are mercilessly beaten or arrested. The shutdowns of industries and logistics have disrupted global supply chains, thus adding to global shortages and misery.
PREVENTING PANDEMICS: Many epidemics and pandemics have been prevented by simple early measures like notification and isolation of initial cases, tracing, quarantine, observation of contacts, surveillance, and timely interventions. Further spread is prevented by better hygiene, protective measures, travel restrictions, and suppression of spread by air, water, or insect vectors. Three outbreaks of the Nipah virus in 2001 and 2007 in West Bengal and in 2018 May in Kozhikode and Malappuram districts of Kerala were suppressed by such coordinated measures. We don’t have vaccines for Nipah, SARS, and many other viruses, but their outbreaks have been managed successfully in the past. More than 40 years ago, when I operated on a patient with highly infectious and dangerous anthrax, the patient was isolated and I was quarantined. The entire CMC campus in Vellore was not locked down.
AUTOCRACY VS DEMOCRACY: Many experts, when comparing Indian Covid management success against the Chinese zero Covid disaster, have credited democracy for Indian success. Many democratic nations made a mess of pandemic management. India succeeded due to good health policy, governance, and implementation. Indian lockdown permitted scaling up the manufacture of essentials like medical equipment, oxygen, vaccines, medicines, agriculture activities, logistics, and all essential services. Financial help was digitally extended and free food and health supplies were provided, thus reducing the impact on human life. Good communication, a well-oiled, experienced vaccination network, and free, effective, safe vaccines overcame vaccine hesitancy without compulsion and contributed to India’s success.
MISPLACED CHINESE VACCINE PRIORITIES AND INEFFECTIVE VACCINES: The Chinese prioritised the vaccination of their armed forces and industrial workers instead of high-risk groups like health workers, elders, those with comorbid conditions, and children. Hence the initial clusters of the latest homegrown Omicron BF7 variant of the coronavirus were in nursing homes, schools, old age homes, and migrant populations like construction workers. Both Chinese Covid-19 vaccines, Sinopharm and Sinovac, are inactivated virus vaccines. Dead microbes inside our bodies are scavenged away. Hence an inactivated virus vaccine needs an effective adjuvant to produce a strong immune reaction. This is the main reason for the difference in efficacy between the Indian Covaxin vaccine and the two Chinese vaccines. The exported Chinese vaccines proved ineffective. Now even the Chinese public does not trust them. Hence vaccination rates are low, especially for booster shots.
SABOTAGE AND PARODY: China influenced WHO to delay the recognition of Indian vaccines, and tried to undermine Indian vaccine exports while promoting Chinese vaccines. Visitors to China were compelled to vaccinate again with Chinese vaccines. They exported medical supplies at extortionist rates. Its official media parodied tragic Indian cremation fires, comparing them to successful Chinese rocket firing. They showed how they were partying while Indians were dying. Now it is the virus that is partying in China.
Dr P.S. Venkatesh Rao is Consultant Endocrine, Breast & Laparoscopic Surgeon, Bengaluru.