China’s ZeroCovid policy is NOT OVER

China’s ZeroCovid policy is NOT OVER. Don’t Let People Manipulate The Facts by Mario Cavolo December 4 2022 中國的零新冠病毒政策還沒有結束。 不要讓人們操縱事實

As usualy, you cannot trust the basket of mis and disinformation found in the combination of western mainstream media and social media influencer voices with high #s of followers. So follow me here to clarify the many misunderstandings and even vicious intentional manipulation & deception you are seeing each day.

The only purpose of China’s ZeroCovid policy is to protect everyone’s health and in doing so has been wildly successful at the expense of economic growth, ability to engage in business, careers and quality of daily life in the society.

ZeroCovid is based on constant assessment & adjustment of the evolving situation based on specific factors being constantly assessed. Those factors include severity, death rate, vaccine effectiveness and coverage, availability and effectiveness of therapeutics and hospital capacity.

Over the past three years there have been many, many periods of time when ZeroCovid had more relaxed period of policies and times when there were more strict period of policies depending on those above factors. Depending on where you lived here in China, you were either lucky or unlucky. For example, we here in Shenyang went through several lockdowns lasting from one to three weeks during the past year including online schooling, restaurants and other retail closed, etc.

This next point is REALLY important. The recent protests were absolutely NOT the reason the recent round of relaxed policies were announced. The new round of 20 relaxed policies were announced many days before the protests began. The protests were understandable and served as an important passionate confirming nudge to the govt that the policies needed to be relaxed. But the govt already knew this and had already begun relaxing them substantially. Immediately after the protests, the govt moved along the process more quickly as an act of the govt listening to the people and preventing further unrest. LUCKILY they already knew what I am about to explain to you and had ALREADY announced they were relaxing restrictions. What I am saying is that the most important question is WHY they had already begun relaxing restrictions. To think the Chinese govt has not been meticulous this entire time in assessing, evaluating the evolving Covid situation is pure ignorance. They know what’s going on better than any of us and they had finally come to the conclusion it was time to relax restrictions based on the evolving state of the Covid infections. Let’ me tell you exactly

In February 2022 Hong Kong had a wild outbreak and deaths were high, over 9000, approximately 75% of which were unvaxxed elderly. In June, Taiwan decided to open up. Keep in mind the population of these two places around the same in the range of 20-30 million people. Their decision to open up had disastrous results. Even though the vaccine coverage was very high, with #mRNA, over the next 6 months they had a parabolic rise in deaths to over 18,000. Not good, folks. The question is WHICH variant hit these cities and which vaccines were used?

Then in August 2022 a wild outbreak hit Shanghai despite the entire city locking down. Bad news, right? Well, no, because for whatever reasons, the death rate was VERY low this time, only around 500 people died. Also by this time in the evolution of the positive cases, the govt could also see clearly in the data that 90% of positives were asymptomatic, 10% of positives had symptoms.

So, OBVIOUSLY nobody is watching, gathering data and analyzing more meticulously all of this information along the way. During the months of October / November following the Shanghai outbreak plus the data of continuing lesser outbreaks across China, the govt could finally conclude that relaxing restrictions makes sense. Heading into China’s four pandemic winter, the death rate was finally very low, relative to other outbreaks such as annual flu death rates. Their remaining concern is Long Covid, however with the death rate finall at acceptable levels, PLUS they were fully aware the people’s level of frustration was very high heading into the fourth winter, they knew it was both reasonable and timely to relax the policies and announce an updated set of 20 policy points on November 1!th.

The Urumqi fire tragedy occcured on November 24th and protests began on on November 26th, a full two weeks after Beijing had already announced the new policy set based on the evolving reality, which was that the past several months of data were surely confirming that latest Covid omicron variants were milder.

One also needs to wonder about vaccine effectiveness of Sinovac, which we do already know, that Sinovac 3 shot is equally effective to any mRNA. Well, Hongkong, which had mixed use of #mRNA/Sinovac had a bad result all the way back in February. Taiwan had a bad result, with 100% mRNA from May/June through October, but Shanghai during July/August/September had a great result, and of course mainland is 100% Sinovac. Frankly, we can only say it would seem that the use of Sinovac was further validated. But we can’t forget that vaccine effectiveness varies and generally declines as new variants evolve, even though that is obviously not what happened in Shanghai. So either the most recent variants have become mild and / or the vaccine is effective against it, some relationship between the two.

So as I have come to frame the situation realistically and accurately. The protests were important and meaningful and they served well as a passionate confirming nudge to the government that indeed, it was time to relax restrictions, and fortunately, the govt’s ongoing assessments were already coming to that same conclusion.

Where are we now. Well, the Guangzhou / Shenzhen area have been chosen as the first cities to have substantially reduced policies; no more city wide mandatory testing while still maintaining local quarantine / lockdowns in higher case/risk areas. Other cities have reduced yet continue with moderate levels of restrictions including our city Shenyang, Shanghai, Beijing and countless others. Of note Guangzhou had been currently experiencing well over 5000 cases per day. So we can suggest that in choosing Guangzhou as the test city, the government is already confidently aware that while there will be many cases, the death rate and related severity will be manageable.

So, in conclusion, we are now in a period marked by the two most important points to remember. The Chinese government has finally judged after a long period of constant assessment lasting longer than many thought it should, along with the rest of the world that the most recent Covid omicron variants are substantially milder with an acceptably low death rate. Well, I told you all along China would move slowly to reach this conclusion and by the way, WE ARE LUCKY this is the case. Because if the recent variants were more severe with higher death rate, you can be certain China would NOT under any circumstances relax the policies. If a more severe variant comes in the future, I firmly believe they will go right back to stricter policies.

I can only conclude by saying, we’ll see what the coming weeks and months bring.

Mario Cavolo: In China for 23 years, Senior Fellow, Center for China & Globalization | Founder, Mr Ma’s China Adventures | CCTV Media host, China Daily writer | Author of 3 books on China | Argument supporting China based on evidently observable references, knowledge & on the ground experiences

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