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China can avert viral destruction in three ways
By Jennifer Dunphy  |  Jan 27, 2023
China can avert viral destruction in three ways
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China recently ended its zero-COVID policy. Unfortunately, the ensuing wave of COVID-19 cases was worsened by the greater contagiousness of the latest strain and is overwhelming the country’s healthcare system—especially in rural areas ill-equipped for the outbreak. The situation is dire, but China can still avert damage and prepare for future viral surges.

CALIFORNIA - In hospitals throughout China, patient beds line the halls of hospital wards. Supplies of oxygen to patients struggling to breathe are unable to keep up with demand. There are not enough intensive care unit (ICU) beds or nurses and doctors to help care for the critically ill, and a massive number of COVID-19 victims are estimated to be dying daily.

China officially reported 59,938 fatalities on January 15, but sources such as Bloomberg have estimated the number to be as high as 9,000 deaths per day, a number which could continue to rise given the huge number of people who traveled back to their hometowns to celebrate the Chinese New Year this past week. This is a full-blown crisis.

China’s COVID-19 zero tolerance policy was a reasonable decision at first. Protect the people until more is known about what this virus is capable of, postpone waves of infection until there is evidenced-based treatment and effective preventive vaccines, or - in an ideal world - until the virus mutates into something less virulent or fades out altogether. In sum, China wanted to avoid the worst of the virus, and understandably so. The Chinese government calculated that the short-term sacrifice demanded by COVID-related restrictions would outweigh the long-term detriments to the population from infection.

This made some sense considering that the World Bank reports that around 13 percent of the Chinese population - or 176 million people - are vulnerable to severe coronavirus infection. With a weak healthcare system easily overwhelmed by volume, avoiding infection at all costs seemed a reasonable option. However, several things went wrong along the way - including under-vaccination of the most vulnerable and simply the fact that the newer variants of the virus were far too contagious to contain - resulting in the current wave of mass infection, illness, and death. China is now facing the same assault that the rest of the world did in

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