World stands to reap gains from China’s virus strategy

A medical worker takes a swab sample from a citizen at a makeshift nucleic acid testing site during a mass testing for COVID-19 in Haidian district, Beijing, capital of China, April 26, 2022. (PHOTO / XINHUA)

Shanghai’s response to the city’s surge in COVID-19 infections has been a continuation of China’s strong yet dynamic response since the onset of the pandemic.

Anti-COVID measures in Shanghai have received much attention and drawn many comments in China and around the world. However, critics who paint the response to COVID as unresponsive to the needs and rights of citizens ignore some key facts.

First, China has been very consistent in its approach to managing the impacts of the global health crisis. As a result, the country has registered the least number of infections and deaths from the disease per capita. Had China exposed itself to the kind of lapses witnessed in much of Europe and the Americas, it would have caused a monumental toll on China and the rest of the world.

Second, China is not just sealing off cities or areas that have seen spikes in COVID-19 infections. The comprehensive strategy marked by rapid mass testing, vaccinations and government support in terms of care for the afflicted stands in stark contrast to what has happened in other countries around the world.

In Shanghai, for example, tens of thousands of medical personnel drawn from other areas of China have teamed up to ensure the city gets back to normalcy.

Thanks to its dynamic zero-COVID strategy, China has registered stronger economic growth compared with other big economies around the world. China’s strong economic showing has been a boon for global economic stability. This has been particularly important for developing countries whose economies have been devastated by the pandemic, a situation that has since been exacerbated by the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

China’s ability to douse clusters of COVID-19 infections enabled Beijing to effectively contribute to the global response, providing developing countries with materials, medicines and vaccines to confront the pandemic.

Many countries and territories that have relaxed their containment measures have experienced spikes in infections and hospitalizations. US President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, Anthony Fauci, is predicting a surge in COVID-19 infections in the United States in the coming weeks due to weakening immunity and relaxation of restrictions.

While mass vaccinations have led to fewer deaths globally compared with the initial stages of the pandemic, studies have pointed to debilitating effects in COVID-19 survivors. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, some of the post-COVID-19 conditions include difficulty in thinking or concentrating, fatigue, shortness of breath, cough and persistent headache. Certain post-COVID-19 conditions can now be considered a disability under US law.

Every country has unique domestic conditions, and such disparities require customized and responsive strategies that promise the best outcomes. China has adopted the dynamic zero-COVID strategy, which has so far delivered much value to the Chinese people and the rest of the world.

For people outside China, support for a COVID-free world is an ideal that we should all aspire to, as no one is safe until everyone is safe. This vision cannot be achieved if the virus continues to roam freely, mutating into more transmissible and deadly variants.

The author is a scholar of international relations with a focus on China-Africa cooperation. 

The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.