The Chinese regime is doubling down in its “zero COVID” strategy. In recent weeks, new covid cases have been detected in several cities. In a world of the more-contagious omicron variant, this is to be expected.
But what has been the Chinese state’s response? It’s more of the same. Lockdowns, travel suspensions, and more. NBC reports:
Tianjin, which detected China’s first community spread of Omicron on Saturday, is rolling out a second round of mass testing on its 14 million residents on Wednesday…The outbreak has already spread to Anyang, a city in Henan province some 300 miles (482 kilometers) away, prompting a full lockdown…Tianjin officials said at a news conference Tuesday that all bus services to Beijing had been suspended…On Wednesday, 425 flights were canceled at Tianjin Binhai International Airport, accounting for 95% of all scheduled flights…Tianjin authorities on Sunday ordered citizens not to leave the city unless absolutely necessary. Those who want to leave must present a negative Covid test taken within 48 hours…
It’s hard to believe that anyone still believes that covid will go away if government authorities just “lock down harder.” But China is hardly the only example of how this delusion can win many adherents among the technocrats and the expert class.
After all, let it not be forgotten that much of the world had adopted a zero covid policy early on, and this absurd policy endured for months. In Europe, of course, millions upon millions of people were virtually locked in their homes for months on end. As Philipp Bagus reported from Spain in spring of 2020, one wasn’t allowed to go outside without facing the wrath of state enforcers.
In America, the “experts” frequently spoke out in favor of zero covid, stating that lockdowns could eradicate the disease and that people would have to stay on lockdown until that time. For example, on April 2 of 2020, Anthony Fauci endorsed this idea, stating that social distancing requirements could not be relaxed until there are “essentially no new cases, no deaths for a period of time.” Hawaii explicitly embraced zero covid, and adopted a policy in 2020 based on the idea that public schools would never reopen until there was no longer any “community spread” and “no new cases” were detected over a period of four weeks.
Needless to say, those were totally unrealistic goals. They reflected only the plans of technocrats who were more concerned with living out their bizarre fetishes for lockdowns and border closures that with gaining a better grasp of the situation or with respecting basic human rights. Even Australia—an island nation that could perhaps plausibly hope to actually close its borders—has given up on the idea.
In other words, the “experts” in America wanted to recreate Chinese despotism in America. They adopted a lockdown policy that had already long been rejected. Lockdowns were already expected to bring long term side effects, such as surges in mental health problems—some of the worst of it among the young—now being reported by hospitals. The WHO even concluded that lockdowns ought to be rejected because “there is no obvious rationale for this measure.”
But perhaps the media and government officials were so successful at sowing panic in the general population in the spring of 2020 that the health technocrats saw their chance to try a new experiment in social engineering that they had previously considered unfeasible.
Fortunately, though, by the middle of 2020, it became clear that lockdowns simply weren’t going to be tolerated by much of the general public. Most state and local governments in the US abandoned zero covid rapidly, although the usual totalitarians in the media bemoaned the end of the policy, insisting that the abandonment of lockdowns would drench the non-lockdown jurisdictions in blood. This was predicted for US states like Georgia, and for countries like Sweden—where lockdowns were quickly jettisoned or not imposed at all.
As time went on, it became obvious that the non-lockdown jurisdictions did not fare significantly worse than the locked down ones. Some areas—Sweden, for instance—fared better. Some of the world’s harshest lockdown regimes—such as those in Peru, Argentina, the UK, and New York—also had some of the worst rates of deaths per million.
For the zero-covid crowd, reality got in the way.
Neo-Zero COVID: The Pivot to Vaccines
The zero covid mentality endures, however. The second wave of the zero covid mentality came with the idea that with universal vaccination, covid would disappear.
And, of course, once vaccines began to appear, it was hailed as a magic bullet that would ensure that the vaccinated would be unable to spread the disease. This ideology was expressed in a rant by Rachel Maddow who back in March 2020 harangued her viewers with the “fact” that “virus stops with every vaccinated person.” She continued: “A vaccinated person gets exposed to the virus, the virus does not infect them, the virus cannot then use that person to go anywhere else.”
This was all a complete fabrication. The vaccine never stopped the spread, and with the advent of the omicron variant, it’s now apparently the case that the vaccine doesn’t even slow the spread. The virus is quickly spreading among vaccinated.
It’s no longer possible to even pretend that vaccination prevents transmission. The only argument left to supporters of the vaccine mandate is that vaccines help against serious disease and death. That’s excellent, but it has nothing to do with public health because it’s clear the unvaccinated aren’t the reason the disease has not been eradicated.
And then there is the fact that vaccination has, in part, likely contributed to new covid mutations. This isn’t new with covid. The idea that treatments can lead to new mutations is not new, of course, and it’s long been known that under a variety of situations, leaky vaccines can produce vaccine resistant mutations.
This is also known to occur in the case of covid. For example, in an article for the Journal of Physical Chemistry (December 2021), the authors note “vaccine-breakthrough or antibody-resistant mutations provide a new mechanism of viral evolution.” And specifically on covid, they write how mutations are often more common in places with higher vaccination rates:
we reveal that the occurrence and frequency of vaccine-resistant mutations correlate strongly with the vaccination rates in Europe and America. We anticipate that as a complementary transmission pathway, vaccine-breakthrough or antibody-resistant mutations, like those in Omicron, will become a dominating mechanism of SARS-CoV-2 evolution when most of the world’s population is either vaccinated or infected.
This can make things even worse when coupled with other covid mitigation measures. As Vivek Ramaswamy and Apoorva Ramaswamy explained in the Wall Street Journal last week it’s simply not realistic to think vaccines can be constantly adjusted to keep up with new variants. And,
Meanwhile, mask mandates and social-distancing measures will have created fertile ground for new variants that evade vaccination even more effectively. Significant antigenic shifts may create new strains that are increasingly difficult to target with vaccines at all. There are no vaccines for many viruses, despite decades of effort to develop them.
That is, vaccination isn’t making covid go away. The politically correct version of the narrative also completely denies that the failure of vaccines to prevent the spread is even a significant factor in the spread of new mutations. The purveyors of the narrative still insist that only the unvaccinated have any responsibility in the continued existence of the disease. Consider, for example, a recent mainstream media report quoting a doctor who dutifully repeated the political orthodoxy that “Without a large percentage of people being vaccinated, the virus has been allowed to mutate.” Specifically, he further claimed that if “roughly 70% of the population” were vaccinated or naturally infected, this would bring the spread of the disease to a halt through “herd immunity.” But—as the doctor now intones in a forlorn voice—that can’t be achieved because there hasn’t been enough vaccination.
But given his criteria, we should expect places with at least 70% vaccination rates to have halted the spread of disease, right? Not surprisingly, this has not happened. In Portugal, for instance, the fully vaccinated rate—is at 90 percent. In Chile, it’s at 87 percent. It’s 75 percent in France. So, surely the spread of covid has been stopped in all these places? The answer is no. New cases are raging in Portugal, Chile, and France, with all these countries hitting new highs in recent days.
Whether we’re talking about vaccine mandates or lockdowns, it’s clear the zero covid strategy has been an abject failure. They’re still trying it in some places like China where government propaganda is largely unquestioned and where people practice unquestioning obedience to the regime at a scale that makes the all-too-complacent West look downright rebellious by comparison.
Don’t expect the “experts” in any country to give up on their slogans any time soon. But it is clear that reality will eventually catch up with them. Whether or not any respect for human rights remains at the end of it all is another matter.
This article was originally featured at the Ludwig von Mises Institute and is republished with permission.