by Freddie Sayers
Monday, 14
November 2022
Video
07:30

China abandons ‘one size fits all’ Covid policy

There are echoes of the Great Barrington Declaration in Beijing's latest plans
by Freddie Sayers

At the end of last week the Standing Committee of the Politburo of the Chinese Communist Party affirmed 20 amendments to the “Zero Covid” policy that has dominated life in the country for over two years. Although the headline statements preserve the rhetoric of Zero Covid (and Bill Hayton is right to be sceptical in his UnHerd piece that they will drop it completely) the announcement added up to a fundamental change in approach.

Amendment 2, for example — no longer tracking close contacts of close contacts of an infected person — may not sound like a big step, but it will greatly reduce the number of people being isolated and removed to quarantine facilities who aren’t even infected. Another amendment allowing home quarantine even in high-risk areas will further reduce the numbers in those facilities, which have been one of the more visibly extreme features of the Chinese response. (See our interview with an intern at a Beijing Covid camp from April.)

Even more significant is the apparent U-turn against a “one size fits all” approach — arguably the defining characteristic of a Zero Covid strategy which attempts to keep out the virus in all populations. In the new language you can almost hear echoes of the famous “Great Barrington Declaration” of October 2020, in which a group of medics proposed a shift in policy towards “focused protection” of more vulnerable groups instead.

The new statement commits the Chinese government to researching and identifying “the population of elderly, patients with underlying diseases, pregnant women, and other vulnerable groups, and formulating health and safety protection plans for them” as well as “optimizing the management of places where vulnerable groups are concentrated, such as nursing homes”. The Great Barrington Declaration mentioned careful management of nursing homes as a particular example of “focused protection”.

Amendment 16 specifically censures local government agencies for being heavy-handed in implementing “one size fits all” policies:

[We shall] increase efforts to correct “one size fits all” approaches: local party committees and governments must strictly implement the national unified prevention and control policy. It is strictly forbidden to close schools and classes, stop work and production, restrict traffic without approval, introduce unapproved lockdowns or remain in lockdowns for overly long periods. Other kinds of exaggerated behaviours such as random suspension of diagnosis and medical treatments will result in increased notification and public exposure, leading to severe punishment for those local authorities that cause serious consequences.
- National Health Commission of the People's Republic of China

This is the central Chinese government promising to take action on local government agencies for being too draconian in their Covid policy. It is quite a shift, and confirms how unpopular the Zero Covid society has become after more than two years.

In effect, the dialling down of restrictions and embracing of a more targeted approach are a concession, two years too late, that a virus such as Covid cannot be kept at zero, no matter how totalitarian the state and how coercive the policies. Of course, all this comes too late for the hundreds of millions of Chinese citizens who have had to live with the consequences of such a misguided ambition.

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Bruce Edgar
Bruce Edgar
22 days ago

The Great Barrington Declaration emphasized focused relief–the only approach that would have made sense for the world the past several years. Schools remain open. Masks become optional. Employment continues in all industries.
Multiple vaccinations and boosters do not prevent the carrier from spreading the disease–or for catching it again and again despite the “protections.” For a majority running somewhere into 90%, Covido was an experience like the flu. Minor to unpleasant–not deadly or requiring ventilators.
Fauci took deliberate, well published steps to squash GB. The emphasis was to be on vaccine alone–high profits of Big Pharma. The vaccine was OK’d for emergency use, but has yet to undergo full risk evaluation–even Fauci has said that such a process could take up to a decade. Many more stories are emerging regarding post vaccine afflictions.
We also know that the disease kills or seriously harms a select few–especially the obese, elderly and compromised. These should have been encouraged to abide by as many restrictions as they wished.
The govt handling of Covid was not a health trial with real science behind it. Real scientists who questioned the policies and analysis of lethality have been censured, in many cases fired for daring to question. In “real” science, debates go on about data and initial conclusions. This was not allowed.
Covid was not about science. It was a dress rehearsal for the real fascism, coming the virtuous one’s on the left, principally. A fascism that turned the media into shrill vaccine cheerleaders; a fascism that did nothing to diminish the absolute terror caused by endless warnings; and a fascism that entitled officials, fed on fake science, to issued personal commands for citizens which the propagandized majority–the “save Granma” group, who trumpeted their “caring” and their love of their fellow–and damned those who were not complying for very sound reasons such as I have listed; it was a fascism that created new hatreds, encouraged shaming, that nearly tore us apart.
It was all about Controlling entire national populations. Amazing indeed. They got away with it. And they learned a lot.

Jeff Watkins
Jeff Watkins
22 days ago
Reply to  Bruce Edgar

Sums it up perfectly

Arkadian X
Arkadian X
22 days ago

I wonder what the lovely Devi will have to say about that.

laurence scaduto
laurence scaduto
22 days ago

As an aside:
The quote from the Chinese Government report points up an interesting phenomenon. The total top-down authority structure encourages the local governments to curry favor with the top at all costs; either by over compensating or lying thru their teeth or both.
Compare to the American system (or lack of one!) in which the local leaders would have a few choice, un-printable words to say and then get on with doing what they think is best for their voters. If the suits in Washington want to force the issue they’re going to need a whole plane full of lawyers and some friendly judges; and weeks to argue about it.
Sometimes inefficiency is very effective.

Last edited 22 days ago by laurence scaduto
Fran Martinez
Fran Martinez
22 days ago

I also reached this conclusion independently. As a Venezuelan I have seen leaders with the worst intentions, however incompetence and inefficiency always left wiggle room for freedom and private life. Yet now that I live in Europe and experienced lockdowns here I can see that an ill-intentioned efficient state is a very dangerous thing indeed. It definitely has changed my perspective of what kind of place I want to be at the moment techno-fascism comes.

Positive Trends
Positive Trends
21 days ago

we see this same “efficacy of inefficiency” in the US system of government: bi-cameral legislatures, checks and balances in three uniquely powerful branches, federalism vs. state (local) authority. the whole intention of the system is to slow down the extremes. to pass only what makes sense to the point that everyone wins (and everyone loses) and that each silo of power seeks to neutralize(minimize even) the power of the other. every time i hear the whining and complaining about “nothing getting done in washington”, i think to myself: “thank God for that”

Last edited 21 days ago by Positive Trends
Max Price
Max Price
22 days ago

It will be interesting to see how this new approach holds up if China’s infections and deaths spike.

Arkadian X
Arkadian X
22 days ago
Reply to  Max Price

I doubt we will be told. Before the real madness began they claimed the death toll was neat zero.

laurence scaduto
laurence scaduto
22 days ago
Reply to  Max Price

Hey?! Why all the “thumbs down”? Max Price has hit the nail on the head; how does the Emperor walk back his mistake when he finally realizes that his new clothes aren’t covering anything?

Arkadian X
Arkadian X
22 days ago

The downvotes are a total mystery to me.

J Bryant
J Bryant
22 days ago
Reply to  Arkadian X

Me too. Stranger still, when I tried to upvote him the system didn’t accept my upvote even though I can upvote other people in the thread.

Doug Pingel
Doug Pingel
22 days ago

“It” does that from time to time. I’ve just hit an up tick with someone else so it looks a bit better. I don’t know whether there is a gremlin prowling the matrix or TPTB does it to annoy us/keep us on our toes.