Several of the countries that followed a “zero-COVID” strategy or otherwise implemented harsh lockdown restrictions are now facing their most devastating waves of the pandemic.
In the United States, COVID-19 has been on a steady decline since January in terms of both cases and deaths. In places like China, South Korea and New Zealand, officials who were once hailed for a highly effective pandemic response are now facing drastic increases in cases and deaths.
If zero covid worked, it would not be necessary again. This article is a delusion. https://t.co/KuSwcS9daG
– Jay Bhattacharya (@DrJBhattacharya) March 28, 2022
China implemented perhaps the most draconian measures in the world to combat COVID-19, implemented advanced technology to track the movements of every single citizen, lock people inside their homes if they were exposed to the virus, and closed entire cities at the first sign of a small eruption. Figures reported by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which is disputed by many experts, painted a picture of a massive country that keeps the spread of the virus at an impressively limited level. According to CCP data, the country had on average less than 200 cases a day from March 2020 until February 2022.
Now the country is overwhelmed by eruptions. Nearly a third of the total cases in the country for the entire pandemic took place in March. On March 19, CCP authorities reported the country’s first COVID-19 death since January 2021. Military reserves have been activated to prevent people from leaving cities or even buildings where outbreaks have been detected. Parts of Shanghai, China’s financial center, and its 26 million inhabitants have been cordoned off.
Things have gotten so bad that the government, which has been proud of the “zero-COVID” strategy, which maintains that authorities can limit the virus to zero spread at all with appropriate measures, has reportedly reconsidered pursuing the zero-COVID goal. The strategy has become untenable as the virus proves that spread is inevitable, no matter how hard a police state may lock down.
In Hong Kong, authorities are preparing to finally start easing some restrictions after the city faced its worst wave of the pandemic in all of March. From September 2021 to February 8, 2022, Hong Kong reported zero COVID-19 deaths, and their total death toll has remained stagnant at 213 since the pandemic began. Now, just two months later, the total death toll in the city stands at 7,825. 97 percent of the city’s deaths occurred within two months, two years after the pandemic and more than a year after vaccines became available. (RELATED: Biden Administration launches COVID.Gov over 2 years into the pandemic)
Some experts have said that South Korea had the best pandemic response in the world. Through rigorous monitoring and tracking tools, the country was able to pursue a zero-COVID strategy without resorting to the draconian shutdowns seen in many other places around the world. South Korea’s policies were very invasive, with infected residents having their phone and credit card data tracked to track their movements, close contacts with the infected were required to isolate for two weeks with check-in twice a day from government COVID-19 monitors , and people who got the virus were sent to government isolation facilities.
It all seemed to be for nothing in March 2022, when daily cases peaked at more than 621,000. The country’s death toll more than doubled in March alone.
New Zealand was initially praised by some for their “Zero Covid” strategy. But despite continued restrictions, mask mandates, lockdowns and vaccine passes, New Zealand currently has the 5th highest Covid case rate in the world. pic.twitter.com/LgULsIRKVz
– James Melville (@JamesMelville) March 28, 2022
New Zealand set a new record for COVID-19 deaths on Tuesday, and its seven-day average death rate surpassed that of the United States this week for the first time during the pandemic.
South Korea and Hong Kong have the most deaths per capita. per capita in the world over the past seven days.
Many COVID-19 hawks in the US and Europe praised the reactions from places like New Zealand and South Korea. Zero-COVID Proponents pointed to these countries as poster children for what would be possible if only the government had the will to do the right thing. Now it seems that these jurisdictions are simply proving that the virus is inevitable, and beyond vaccination, there is only so much that can be done to prevent mass spread and significant death.