Defiant with its ‘dynamic zero Covid,’ China relishes ‘endless’ U.S. pandemic woes
In its daily briefing, for Oct 11, China’s National Health Commission reported 417 new cases of confirmed infections of novel coronavirus in the 31 provincial-level regions in the Chinese mainland, including 43 imported cases. As of Oct. 12, the Commission said, there have been 254,483 confirmed cases and 5,226 deaths in the Chinese mainland.
Such low case and death numbers have been possible because of China’s so-called “dynamic zero Covid” policy, with daily mass testing and rolling lockdowns, causing widespread discontent and a rare but courageous one-man protest in Beijing yesterday with a banner over an overpass stating, “No to Covid test, yes to food. No to lockdown, yes to freedom,” as CNN reported.
In response to international criticisms of China’s zero-tolerance of Covid, one Chinese official explained how the approach was a “MUST” -- M: Matter of Life and death; U: United against the virus; S: Science-based; T: Targeted.
China’s official media also often posts U.S. Covid statistics in comparison. For instance, on Oct. 12, in its special feature “U.S. ‘lying flat’ with fight against pandemic with endless problems,” Xinhua News quoted from CDC these numbers: 7-day average of 47,112 cases; 7-day average of 3,773 hospital admissions; and 7-day averages of deaths of 344.
Not just statistics, China’s major newspapers or news outlets have been busy collecting and translating pandemic- and healthcare-related stories from the U.S. media, with a dose of schadenfreude, no doubt.
On Aug. 31, NPR ran a story titled “Life expectancy in the U.S. continues to drop, driven by COVID-19,” which indicated that because of the pandemic, America’s life expectancy had fallen from 79 years in 2019 to 76.1 years in 2021. Next day, Xinhua carried that same story, with the same title, “Life expectancy in U.S. continues to drop, driven by COVID-19: NPR.”
On Sept. 2, Forbes magazine ran a story titled “Long Covid Is Keeping Millions Out of Work,” which mentioned a Brookings report of Aug. 24 showing around 16 million working-age Americans had long Covid, with 2 to 4 million of those out of work, and with the annual cost of lost wages between $170 billion and 230 billion. On Sept. 7, China Daily followed with a similar piece, translating part of the Forbes story but with a different title, “Huge economic burden! U.S. study: Millions of Americans out of work due to long Covid,” along with a screenshot of the Forbes webpage.
On Sept. 7, AP had a story on monkeypox titled “Monkeypox cases dropping, but racial disparities growing.” It pointed out that with cases in white men dropping, Black people were making up a growing percentage of infections, so were Latinos, as vaccines were not effectively reaching those communities. On the same day, China’s Central TV News carried a translation of most of the AP story with a somewhat different title, emphasizing race, “Monkeypox pandemic in U.S. reveals once again racial disparities.”
On Sept. 19, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health announced on its website the publication of a joint report with City University of New York: Trends in U.S. Depression Prevalence From 2015 to 2020: The Widening Treatment Gap. The announcement piece went on to say that in 2020, 9% of Americans aged 12 or older experienced major depressive episode in the past year. On exactly the same day, Sept. 19, China Daily ran a piece titled “US study: Depression 'escalating public health crisis.'” It basically carried the whole Columbia University announcement post, plus a couple of points in the report, such as a shortage of psychiatrists in many U.S. states, child and adolescent psychiatrists in particular.
On Oct. 6, the 2022 West Health-Gallup Healthcare in America Report came out. The press release included the result of a poll conducted among 5,500 Americans, with 44% or about 114 million Americans giving poor or failing grades to the U.S. healthcare system, with more negative responses on the affordability and health equity. A few days later, on Oct. 10, China Daily posted a piece titled “Nearly half of Americans disappointed with US healthcare system: poll.” It followed a story in Market Watch on Oct. 8 titled “Americans give U.S. healthcare system a dismal score. Here are their biggest concerns.”