China’s dramatic change in its COVID policies could have deleterious consequences for the world’s population: We may face the prospect of a new wave of the virus that will have an enormous impact on public health, three years after the start of the pandemic. The Chinese government seems to have “the Midas touch” in reverse when it comes to COVID-19 — everything it touches turns into a disaster.
To this day, China has not revealed the origin of the pandemic, after denying epidemiologists critical information that might have weakened the outbreak in late 2019 and early 2020. China still censors information regarding COVID’s origin in Wuhan and has not acknowledged misinforming the World Health Organization (WHO) about the respiratory transmission of the virus — falsehoods that were spread by the WHO.
The Chinese government does not publish accurate statistics regarding the pandemic, the vaccine it produced, and the effectiveness of other vaccines developed in the West. It absurdly underestimates the number of Chinese people suffering from COVID, as well as those who have died from it. The lack of medical and epidemiological professionalism exercised by the Chinese government is done to protect the rule of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), but it enables the spread of the virus.
China recently reversed its “zero-Covid” policy, and the Chinese people are able to more freely travel about the country at a time when many typically journey home to be with family — the Spring Festival or Lunar New Year, the major holiday on the Chinese calendar. These individuals may spread variants of the virus, old and new, that evolved among people in isolation.
China also reversed its travel ban and is relaxing policies for travel abroad and enticing foreign tourism to China. Tourists coming to China no longer will have to quarantine and receive a negative COVID test before they can move about freely. Thus, whatever variants of the virus are in China certainly will spread to the rest of the world, as they did in 2020.
There is little question the CCP and Chinese President Xi Jinping chose to deceive the world about the origin of the pandemic and its effects in order to preserve their rule over the Chinese people. Their actions resulted in a pandemic that has killed millions worldwide, and destroyed the health and wellbeing of many more people, but so far, they have escaped accountability.
Now, once again, the Chinese government is about to fail the Chinese people and put the global population at risk. The U.S. must take the lead to hinder the spread of the virus. The Biden administration should call upon the CCP to take responsibility to prevent another COVID wave, including by providing accurate information about the origin of the virus and data from current conditions in China. There is little likelihood that the CCP would adhere to any such demand but placing it on notice means other governments could take legal action against Chinese firms and global investments to compensate for the millions killed and injured as a result of the CCP’s negligence.
The Biden administration also should ensure that the WHO works as intended, and not as an unwitting agent of the CCP. The WHO leadership must be employed urgently into the fight to dissipate the next wave, but it must not repeat its mistakes. Travel to and from China should be hindered to prevent the acceleration of the spread. Japan has taken action to require visitors to and from China to take COVID tests — a decision that should be replicated on a global scale. Quarantine protocols also should be reintroduced.
Before China once again becomes a COVID supernova, the world must utilize what it has learned about arresting the spread of the virus. We need leadership from the U.S. to combat the virus, since we cannot rely entirely on the WHO given the CCP’s deceptive nature. What is particularly alarming is that the world does not appear to be worried yet — as if we have learned nothing from three years of a pandemic.
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