The Wall Street Journal‘s Editorial Board understands the great damage that China’s deranged policy of zero covid is inflicting on all of humanity, but especially on the Chinese people. A slice: Large swathes of China have been under some form of lockdown in recent months. That includes Shanghai, a crucial commercial hub, which has yet to emerge from restrictions after a month. The government shows little sign of recalibrating even as other countries abandon lockdowns in favor of learning to live with the virus. This self-inflicted disaster is a growing danger to the global economy. Any supply chain passing through China either has snapped already or is in danger of doing so. Beijing’s zero-Covid mistake is disrupting the supply of a wide range of goods for consumers elsewhere, and is
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Large swathes of China have been under some form of lockdown in recent months. That includes Shanghai, a crucial commercial hub, which has yet to emerge from restrictions after a month. The government shows little sign of recalibrating even as other countries abandon lockdowns in favor of learning to live with the virus.
This self-inflicted disaster is a growing danger to the global economy. Any supply chain passing through China either has snapped already or is in danger of doing so. Beijing’s zero-Covid mistake is disrupting the supply of a wide range of goods for consumers elsewhere, and is prompting more companies to reconsider their China business.
The biggest risk, however, is to China’s own economy—and Beijing increasingly realizes it. The country is all but certain to miss the Party’s 5.5% economic-growth target for the year, and that already was a modest goal compared to years past. Surveys of business confidence and investment are dire and the property market continues to sink.
In 2006, Henderson and his colleagues at the University of Pittsburgh Center for Health Security, where Henderson also maintained an academic appointment, published a landmark paper (embedded below) with the anodyne title, “Disease Mitigation Measures in the Control of Pandemic Influenza,” in the journal Biosecurity and Terrorism: Biodefense Strategy, Practice, and Science.
This paper reviewed what was known about the effectiveness and practical feasibility of a range of actions that might be taken in attempts to lessen the number of cases and deaths resulting from a respiratory virus pandemic. This included a review of proposed biosecurity measures, later utilized for the first time during covid, such as “large scale or home quarantine of people believed to have been exposed, travel restrictions, prohibitions of social gatherings, school closures, maintaining personal distance, and the use of masks”.
Even assuming a case fatality rate (CFR) of 2.5%, roughly equal to the 1918 Spanish flu but far higher than the CFR for covid, Henderson and his colleagues nevertheless concluded that these mitigation measures would do far more harm than good.
They found the most helpful strategy would be isolating symptomatic individuals (but not those who had merely been exposed) at home or in the hospital, a strategy that had long been part of traditional public health. They also cautioned against reliance on computer modeling to predict the effects of novel interventions, warning that, “No model, no matter how accurate its epidemiologic assumptions, can illuminate or predict the secondary and tertiary effects of particular disease mitigation measures.” Furthermore, “If particular measures are applied for many weeks or months, the long-term or cumulative second- and third-order effects could be devastating socially and economically.”
Regarding forced quarantines of large populations, the authors noted, “There are no historical observations or scientific studies that support the confinement by quarantine of groups of possibly infected people,” and they concluded, “The negative consequences of large-scale quarantine are so extreme (forced confinement of sick people with the well; complete restriction of movement of large populations; difficulty in getting critical supplies, medicines, and food to people inside the quarantine zone) that this mitigation measure should be eliminated from serious consideration.”
Likewise, they found, “Travel restrictions, such as closing airports and screening travelers at borders, have historically been ineffective.” They argued that social distancing was also impractical and ineffective.
March 2020: Sweden doesn’t close schools, kids and teachers are fine.
Aug 2020: Trump tweets “OPEN THE SCHOOLS!” so his opponents flight like hell to keep them closed. Many poor countries copy the US.
Result: catastrophic learning losses for over one billion poor kids.