Shanghai Lockdown: Doubling Down On Faucist Mistakes
Zero COVID Still Has Zero Success
Lockdowns do not contain infectious respiratory disease.
The latest proof of this comes from China’s largest city, Shanghai, which has gone from no lockdown to targeted lockdowns to partial lockdowns to full citywide lockdown in a matter of weeks. This despise cities such as Shenzhen, Tianjin and Jilin having a similar lack of success.
While other locations, such as Shenzhen, Tianjin and Jilin, have been hit with tight curbs in recent months, the battle against the virus in Shanghai marks China's biggest containment effort since it shuttered Wuhan at the start of the pandemic two years ago. Hopes that life in the commercial hub would quickly return to normal dimmed when the authorities extended restrictions on the eastern side that had been due to end last Friday morning.
Not only is the lockdown failing to corral the disease, China’s official public health data shows Shanghai has become that country's primary viral nexus, and currently accounts for a majority of cases in China.
For a lockdown to have succeeded, infections should have tapered off. In Shanghai, this did not happen.
Lockdowns do not work.
Lockdowns Have Never Worked
China’s stubborn persistence in the lockdown “Zero COVID” approach is nothing short of bizarre, given that even the original lockdowns in 2020 were immediate and demonstrable failures.
Shanghai 2022 is following the same path as Wuhan 2020, with community spread continuing even after the lockdown is initiated. The data makes this plain, yet both China's national and Shanghai's local leadership show little interest in moderating their approach.
Why the resistance? Largely, it comes from the refusal to admit a mistake and acknowledge a policy failure.
“If we stop all containment measures now, it means all the previous efforts are for nothing," Liang Wannian, a top official at the National Health Commission, said in late March in response to a reporter's query on why China is not shifting toward treating COVID as endemic, like influenza.
Given that the reluctance to change policy starts with Xi Jinping himself, the Shanghai lockdown was perhaps inevitable.
But Xi demanded on TV in mid-March that officials "swiftly control local clustered outbreaks." A lockdown in Shenzhen, meanwhile, appeared to successfully halt COVID's surge in the city of 17 million. As Shanghai overtook the northeastern cities of Jilin and Changchun as China's virus hot spot, showing that a targeted approach was not enough to stop the omicron variant, officials reverted to more drastic measures.
Repeating The Testing Mistake As Well
Nor is the lockdown the only Zero COVID policy failure.
Concurrent with the lockdown strategy is mass diagnostic testing, intended to identify every last positive case so he or she can be quarantined. To that end, Beijing dispatched some 2,000 military medical personnel to Shanghai in order to test virtually the entire city.
However, mass testing, while celebrated by the corporate media, was also an immediate and demonstrable failure even in the early days of the pandemic.
In sum, nothing about the Zero COVID policy is ultimately useful and effective at mitigating a COVID-19 outbreak—and Shanghai residents are beginning to realize this.
The strategy has shown signs of strain, with residents complaining of crowded and unsanitary central quarantine centers, as well as difficulties in securing food supplies and essential medical help.
Indeed, many Shanghai residents are openly protesting the lockdown, accusing the CCP of breaking the social compact with the Chinese people.
Following an unceasing torrent of scandals, including separating COVID positive children from their parents, covering up nursing home deaths and failing to address shortages of food and medicine, the population of Shanghai has reached its breaking point.
Many have accused the CCP of violating its contract with the people. And in one particularly memorable scene, thousands of Shanghaiers took to their balconies to chant in protest, in defiance of the CCP's lockdown strictures.
Widely circulating stories among Shanghai's residents of the city's completely inadequate Zero COVID infrastructure illustrate the rising frustrations on all sides. Whether one looks at PCR testing, quarantine facilities, nursing staff, the stories are all the same: the healthcare systems are simply overwhelmed, as illustrated by the leaked audio recording of a phone conversation with one public health worker.
The expert explained that she had complained to her leader that CDC staff should not be contacting people about their testing positive while people have received a negative test message on the app. It has only exhausted the staff at the CDC and confused the public.
She said, “We, as the professionals, are pushed to the brink of collapse by the situation. This pandemic has become a political issue that’s consuming so much manpower, resources, and money, just to solve this flu-like disease. What other country do you think is doing this kind of epidemic prevention now?”
The expert also suggested to the caller, “The quarantine site is not up to standard, and there’s no medical service at the site. If you are forced to go to the isolation ward, ask them for proof of a positive test result before they can enforce it. Let me tell you, they won’t have it.”
The “expert” referenced here has been identified as Zhu Weiping, of the Shanghai CDC. While the audio recording has been deleted, many Shanghai residents are publicly supporting her.
However, this recording also caused many netizens to recognize "the courage to speak the truth", thinking that they have spoken the voice of Shanghai people, and they have forwarded the text version of the recording, and they are also worried about whether Zhu Weiping will become the next Li Wenliang? Emphasize to protect her by revealing her name.
Pandemic Panic Has Become Pandemic Politics
The ultimate reasons for China’s dogged insistence on the Zero COVID policy, despite its proven inefficacy, likely stem also from the desire to avoid the reality of how thin and brittle the Chinese healthcare system actually is.
Despite having the world's second largest economy, China spends a fraction of what the US does on healthcare, and has only a fraction of the medical personnel of the US.
Chinese health officials, like those elsewhere, have noted that even if omicron is less deadly than the previous delta strain, it spreads much faster. This raises the risk that the health system could be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of cases.
China has sought to reform and build up its health care infrastructure in the past 10 years, but it still faces capacity limitations. The latest available data shows the country had 3.34 registered nurses per 1,000 people, compared to 11.8 in the U.S. China's health spending per capita was $459 in 2018, while U.S. spending came to $9,054 in 2019.
Allowing the disease to simply run its course carries the potential risk, at least in the eyes of government officials, of overwhelming the healthcare infrastructure, producing a bigger political crisis than the ineffective Zero COVID policy.
Retreat from Zero COVID also would compel Beijing to make the uncomfortable admissions that not only are China's home grown vaccines (which, perversely enough, use the whole SARS-CoV-2 virus and so conceptually fall within the traditional understanding of vaccines) not all that effective, but efforts to replicate the mRNA inoculations favored in the west have also come up short.
Thus, despite China having a high vaccination rate, the protection being delivered is minimal.
Faucism With Chinese Characteristics Is Still Faucism
Whether because of the inflexibility of ideology or the Machiavellian machinations of China’s Byzantine political system, the political perversions of science and medicine on display in the Shanghai lockdown are the epitome of the scientific bastardy of Faucism. Instead of using the evidences of the prior lockdowns to develop better public health responses to the virus, CCP officials are committed to repeating the previous mistakes, consequences be damned.
Yet the consequences will come regardless of politics or ideology. Already, the economic pain is being felt, with both the manufacturing and service sectors of the world's second largest economy entering contraction territory, and even the Chinese media cannot conceal this reality.
Of greater concern for the global economy are the disruptions to shipping logistics brought on by the lockdowns in Shanghai and elsewhere.
Container transportation service providers in the Yangtze River Delta, one of the world's busiest manufacturing regions that covers Shanghai, are facing disruptions caused by the COVID-19 outbreaks in the region, though official measures are underway to ensure stable supply chains.
Still, despite the rapidly accumulating evidence of economic damage caused by the lockdowns, on top of the enormous human costs they bring, China’s public health officials are extending the Shanghai lockdown indefinitely. Nothing, it seems, can alter their ideologically-driven decisions. Faucism reigns supreme, even in Beijing.
And Still The Virus Spreads
As science journalist Alex Berenson is fond of saying, “virus gonna virus”. Whatever bright ideas the bureaucrats dream up, infectious respiratory pathogens are going to spread. Viruses are truly apolitical, caring not at all about either politics or ideology.
Certainly that has been true for the SARS-CoV-2 virus. In China, as in Europe as well as the United States, the virus has spread despite the massive efforts made to dispense vaccines and mRNA inoculations, as well as to disrupt human-to-human transmission via lockdowns. The economic pain, the societal strains, the human suffering…none of that has stopped or even slowed down the spread of the disease.
Yet the ”experts” in Beijing, like the “experts” remain studiously oblivious to the damage their policies have inflicted.
Virus gonna virus, but Faucists gonna Fauci, facts and evidence be damned.