Several of the countries that pursued a “zero-COVID” strategy or otherwise implemented tough lockdown restrictions are now facing their most devastating waves of the pandemic.
In the United States, COVID-19 has been steadily declining in both cases and deaths since January. In countries like China, South Korea and New Zealand, officials who were once praised for a highly effective pandemic response are now facing drastic increases in cases and deaths.
If Zero Covid worked it wouldn’t be needed again. This article is illusory. https://t.co/KuSwcS9daG
— Jay Bhattacharya (@DrJBhattacharya) March 28, 2022
China has taken perhaps the world’s most draconian measures to combat COVID-19, using advanced technology to track every citizen’s every move, locking people in their homes if exposed to the virus and entire cities at the first sign of a small eruption. Figures reported by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), disputed by many experts, paint a picture of a vast country keeping the spread of the virus at impressively limited levels. According to CCP data, the country averaged fewer than 200 cases per day from March 2020 to February 2022.
Now outbreaks are sweeping the country. Almost a third of all cases in the country throughout the pandemic occurred in March. On March 19, CCP authorities reported the country’s first COVID-19 deaths 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 people have been locked down.
Things have gotten so bad that the government, which prides itself on the “zero-COVID” strategy that claims authorities can limit the spread of the virus to zero with appropriate measures, has reportedly mooted the goal of track zero-COVID. The strategy has become untenable as the virus proves that no matter how tight a police state lockdown, spread is inevitable.
In Hong Kong, authorities are preparing to finally start easing some restrictions after the city faced the worst wave of the pandemic in March. From September 2021 to February 8, 2022, Hong Kong reported zero COVID-19 deaths, with the total number of deaths stagnating at 213 since the pandemic began. Now, just two months later, the city’s total death toll stands at 7,825. 97 percent of deaths in the city occurred within two months, two years after the pandemic began and more than a year after vaccines became available. (RELATED: Biden Administration launches COVID.Gov over 2 years into pandemic)
Some experts have said South Korea had the best pandemic response in the world. Through rigorous monitoring and tracing tools, the country has been able to adopt a zero-COVID strategy without resorting to the draconian lockdowns seen in many other places around the world. South Korea’s policies have been highly invasive, requiring infected residents to track their phone and credit card details to trace their movements, and close contacts of those infected being isolated for two weeks, with twice-daily screening by government COVID-19 monitors and individuals who had contracted the virus were taken to state isolation facilities.
All of this appeared to be for nothing in March 2022, with daily cases peaking at more than 621,000. In March alone, the death toll in the country more than doubled.
New Zealand was initially praised by some for its “zero Covid” strategy. But despite ongoing restrictions, mask requirements, lockdowns and vaccination passports, New Zealand currently has the fifth highest Covid case rate in the world. pic.twitter.com/LgULsIRKVz
— James Melville (@JamesMelville) March 28, 2022
New Zealand set a new record high in COVID-19 deaths on Tuesday, and its seven-day average death rate this week surpassed that of the US for the first time during the pandemic.
South Korea and Hong Kong have the most deaths per capita globally in the past seven days.
Lots COVID-19 hawks in the US and Europe praised responses from places like New Zealand and South Korea. Zero COVID Proponents pointed to these countries as poster children for what could be possible if only the government had the will to do the right thing. Now it appears these jurisdictions are simply proving that the virus is inevitable and there is only so much that can be done beyond vaccination to prevent mass spread and significant deaths.