Indians can travel without curbs, but China’s unsuccessful zero-Covid policy has turned its economy upside down

NEW DELHI: With a successful record-breaking vaccination campaign, India has learned to live with Covid; the restrictions have been lifted and people are once again free to travel anywhere, with or without masks. On the other hand, China has implemented an unsuccessful zero-Covid policy that has turned its economy upside down. The advent of the new Covid phase in China has shown that the country has been unable to tackle the Covid situation, unlike India.

As a result of the widespread social protest, China now expects some ease in the national virus policies in their nation. The policies are again expected to create some disruptions between two groups: people who would welcome the ease of restrictions and people who feel are now more vulnerable to the disease. More than 20 cities have shown strong social unrest for the zero-Covid policy. As per various reports, several cities have now eased the restriction after several days of protest. For instance, Guangzhou in the north of Hong Kong, also known as a manufacturing hub, has lifted restrictions in seven districts within 24 hours. Social media posts show that the residents fought with the people wearing PPE kits.

Vice Premier Sun Chunlan publicly stated that the virus’s capacity to spread infection was diminishing, a message that had been shared by health experts all around the world for more than a year. The Sunday Guardian spoke to Padma Shree awardee and Chairperson Nephron Clinic Prof Dr Sanjeev Bagai to understand what went wrong in China with Covid restrictions, vaccination, and how to overcome the disaster. “The entire Covid policy has been wrong right from inception. The data, facts, figures, and evolution of Covid variant have always been a mystery as far as China data analytics is concerned.”

Speaking about what went wrong in the lockdown implementation, Dr Bagai told this paper, “With respect to the surge of cases in China, the initial lockdown was prolonged and the lockdown in the third phase is nothing but disaster. The lockdown serves three purposes: to get government preparedness, to prepare the medical infrastructure, and sensitise the public. Looking at the present scenario, to lock down the entire country is wrong.”

The Chinese vaccine efficacy is also questionable. Social media cannot hinder the voices of Chinese people and the atrocities the public is facing at the moment. “With the advent of the new Omicron variant that shows the huge vaccine escape and antibody escape mechanism, Covid subvariant of Omicron, such as BA.1, BA.2, CH1, BA2.75, and so on are more prone to vaccine escape. They are 30 to 40 times less vaccine efficacy with a higher risk of reinfection. Like we all know, the entire population of China has been vaccinated with Chinese vaccines and one can now see the results of vaccine efficacy. People may not have expected the surge of Omicron.”

Most of the elderly with comorbidities are afraid to take the vaccines. Commenting on the solution, he suggested, “The vulnerable population of Chinese mainly, elderly, immune-compromised patients must be vaccinated with mRNA or vector-borne vaccine, adenovirus vector vaccines, Covishield, Covaxin. These vaccines have shown successful results in India and the efficacy of these vaccines has protected the people against severe infections.”

He added, “Ultimately, China implemented the policies wrongly. In the third year of the pandemic, no country can entirely bring to bear the complete lockdown strategy upon people. It is irrational and medically unscientific.”