The Chinese population are facing a significant challenge in the form of COVID-19, due to the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) flawed and regressive containment policies as well as their ineffective domestically produced vaccines. Many reports from within China have suggested that even though officials have rushed to claim that the outbreak had peaked last month, hospitals in highly-populated cities, including Shanghai and Beijing, are overflowing with patients.
The CCP without any strategy in place had diluted the zero-covid policy which in its initial phases imposed regressive measures in the first place. China’s global lockdown to the foreign world was led by draconian lockdowns, stringent contact tracing as well as inhumane behaviour by party officials; much of which was imposed upon its own people by the CCP to contain the pandemic from spreading across. Although China’s economy saw a significant downfall, it was all attributed to the restrictions by the CCP that was forced upon. Although these stringent methods may have prevented deaths, yet they also left a huge percentage of its population without natural immunity from the fatal virus. More so, China’s home-grown vaccines were ineffective not only in posing as a deterrent against the virus, but also failed in safeguarding the most vulnerable populations of the Chinese society. As far as its zero-Covid policy is concerned, the draconian containment strategy so far crippled the Chinese population and has caused major discontentment amongst people domestically. The policy requires that the entire city be put under a lockdown if a few cases emerge in the region. This has raised some significant concerns within the World Health Organization, which has gone on to state that such measures do not help reduce the case load and invariably negatively affects the people’s livelihoods.
Over the past two years, China’s political leadership has drawn upon the security apparatuses and groups that were infamous for curbing dissent towards the Party for the purpose of upholding the containment policies. This has thus demonstrated the effects and aftereffects of the zero COVID policy, which has been claimed by many to be a mechanism to maintain surveillance over its own citizens and dissenters, specifically in the Tibetan and Xinjiang regions. The Chinese leadership and its authoritative tendencies have also caused major discontentment amongst global actors as well. Often claimed as the ‘people’s war’, the sinister zero-covid policy has failed on all its objectives and goals. From locking away entire families to officials inadequately performing their duties under the pretext of zero-covid, the dissent among the population has only increased in the recent months.
However, the dilution of the policy is once again going to cause havoc mostly due to the ineffectiveness of Chinese vaccines provided to the population. China’s independently manufactured vaccines have proven ineffective against the fatal outbreak that has gripped the country since the past couple of years. Chinese authorities in the initial phases of the pandemic rejected scientifically developed vaccines from world-class manufacturers such as Moderna and Pfizer. These decisions have now come to haunt not only the political leadership of the country, but it has also proved more deadly to the general public. More so, while global vaccine manufactures were producing vaccines in record numbers, China has since then been running delegitimizing propagandas against the effectiveness of the Western-produced vaccines. Its locally manufactured vaccines such as Sinovac and Sinopharm have proved to be ineffective in both containing the virus as well as safeguarding the population, resulting in frequent outbreaks within the country as well as in nations that procured Chinese vaccines for its populations. Sinovac’s effectiveness was proven to be much lesser against its global competitors when it was revealed that it fared at only 50% protectiveness, as compared to mRNA vaccines manufactured by other countries at 90% efficiency.
Although there is no official public data released by Chinese authorities on the efficiency of their vaccines against other covid variants, studies conducted by prominent research centres have declared that China’s vaccines offer 20% less protection against the Delta variant, which is quite low, if compared to other prominent vaccines. A Lancet study recently concluded that Sinovac produced weaker T-cell responses, which protects people against the severe illness when a variant evolves. The ineffectiveness of the T-cells and its inability to neutralise antibodies was a direct result of the failure of the government in containing outbreaks across the country.
With the opening of restrictions domestically in China, the population lacks the natural immunity, which most of the world has already undergone through on its part. Due to the zero-covid policy, many populations have not been faced with the virus as much as the rest of the world and as the situation stands today, the coming few months are significantly going to be detrimental for its domestic population in terms of infections and even fatalities.
A dual failure in both the vaccine and containment strategy has left much of China’s population at the brink of risk that could have been prevented had the Chinese Communist Party acted in a rational manner instead of indulging in authoritative methods to curb the virus. Much less than curbing the virus, the policies have increased the threat levels and are going to affect the global economy altogether. Spill over of China’s failed strategies is going to have repercussions worldwide, just as the first outbreak brought the world on its knees with the exposure to the COVID-19 virus back in 2020.
China’s failure in providing adequate measures may perhaps cause widespread outrage within its domestic population, but the global community must come together to mitigate against China’s authoritative regime that seems to make a habit of setting the world backwards in terms of its failure of containing and safeguarding its own domestic population. Therefore, an authoritative regime in China is not only detrimental to its domestic population only, it is rather also a menace for the world as well, which on its part seems to be attempting to move ahead from the era of the pandemic.