For over a month now, since April 5, 2022, Shanghai—a city of 26 million people best known as a financial and trade hub of East Asia for more than a century—has been in total lockdown.
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has told its citizens that the mass COVID testing and lockdown are necessary to control COVID cases.
But this “zero-COVID” policy in a city that’s a center of finance, trade, manufacturing, and global transportation is having devastating consequences.
While the CCP engages in active censorship of the misery that Shanghai’s residents are currently experiencing, there are both immediate and long-term economic, psychological, and health consequences from this zero-COVID policy that may reverberate around the world.
Desperation in Shanghai
Residents have been confined to their homes, unable even to buy food or medication.
One Shanghai mom living with her children and elderly parents told reporters for ABC News that she’s skipping meals so her family can eat, because the government isn’t providing them with enough food. ⁽¹⁾
“I can’t cook, because we have nothing to cook,” the mom said.
As people take to their balconies to chant that they’re hungry, to sing in solidarity with each other, or simply to talk to their fellow residents, government drones warn them via pre-recorded messages to stay inside.
“Control your soul’s desire for freedom,” a drone boomed. “Do not open the window or sing.” ⁽²⁾
As an April 26 CNN video that has been censored in China reveals, the city is in chaos, struggling to cope with both a surge in cases of the virus and the extreme government mismanagement. ⁽³⁾
Feeling trapped and desperate, people are venting their frustration by shouting, howling, and even sobbing from their balconies. They’re sharing their despair on WeChat and other Chinese social media sites, even as the government swiftly censors them.
One video, which shows government employees in hazmat suits erecting fences to keep people caged in their residences, has been shared so extensively in Chinese cyberspace that the censors have not been able to erase it fast enough.
People are dying because of the lockdown itself. For example, as Radio France Internationale reported, one 44-year-old Korean man living in Shanghai was found dead in his apartment. He had a heart condition and no access to his medication. ⁽⁴⁾
There have also been reports of people hurling themselves to their deaths, choosing to die by suicide rather than remain in such extreme isolation.
At least 152 people have already died because of the lockdowns, not COVID-19, according to a Radio Free Asia report. While it’s very difficult, if not impossible, to get accurate statistics from China on how many people have died as a result of the lockdown, one can simply imagine what would happen to patients who need dialysis, for example, and are denied access to the hospital. According to a CCTV report, there are about 20,000 such patients in Shanghai. Then what about patients with other life-threatening conditions, such as cancer or heart disease? ⁽⁵⁾
The medical system has become so overwhelmed in Shanghai, according to another report, that an elderly man was mistakenly thought to be dead and taken alive to the morgue. If these stories weren’t verifiable, I would think they were taken directly from a horror movie. ⁽⁶⁾
‘Zero-COVID’ Is Impossible
The SARS-CoV-2 virus was deadly to many at first. But the new Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 appears to be much less deadly. At the same time, COVID tracking data has shown that Omicron is unstoppable.
According to a peer-reviewed study published in March of 2022 in the Journal of Internal Medicine, the molecular profile of the Omicron variants, which have more than 50 mutations, manifests as a much milder disease. As the team of Italian scientists writes, “The disease [caused by Omicron] so far has been mild compared to the Delta.” ⁽⁷⁾
The reason for Omicron’s ability to spread so fast is still a topic of scientific debate, but what is clear is that Omicron is fast spreading, overtaking all the other variants very quickly. Once it spreads in any given community, it won’t leave until almost everyone has been infected.
We know now that 99 percent of adults in the United Kingdom have COVID antibodies and that 94.7 percent of all current infections in the UK are caused by Omicron.⁽⁸⁾⁽⁹⁾
When China hosted the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics in February, I feared that since Omicron was everywhere outside of China, it would be inevitable that some of the thousands of visitors would bring this strain into China. Once it’s in China and it starts to spread, it isn’t stoppable.
And yet, Chinese leader Xi Jinping thought he could use his mighty state power to eliminate the virus. His zero-COVID policy is nonscientific and also against common sense.
Consequences of Draconian Lockdowns
Yet, despite the fact that this is likely a much milder form of the disease and that there are dire negative health consequences caused by terrorizing people, forcing them to self-isolate, and withholding medical care and medications from them (to say nothing of starving them), the CCP continues to forcefully carry out its zero-COVID policy, directed by Xi.
No scientific debate is allowed. In fact, scientists in Shanghai, including Dr. Wenhong Zhang, M.D./Ph.D., head of the center of infectious diseases at the Huashan Hospital of Fudan University in China, who had advocated for living with COVID, now has to toe the party line.
The U.S. has had its share of lockdowns.
While this remains controversial, we know now that lockdown policies did more harm than good, both in the United States and around the world. Children have suffered serious developmental delays, according to research done by Brown University researchers, especially those from socially disadvantaged families. ⁽¹⁰⁾
States where lockdowns were most stringent, including California, Illinois, New Jersey, and New York, had extremely high numbers of deaths from COVID, huge numbers of jobs lost, and high unemployment rates and other economic declines, according to April 2022 research conducted by the National Bureau of Economic Research. ⁽¹¹⁾
By contrast, states where businesses and schools reopened more quickly, including Florida, Montana, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Utah, had lower death rates, fewer economic hardships, and fewer declines among children, according to the same report.
This report dovetails with earlier work done by the Johns Hopkins Institute for Applied Economics, Global Health, and the Study of Business Enterprise from January 2022, “A Literature Review and Meta-Analysis of the Effects of Lockdowns on COVID-19 Mortality.” ⁽¹²⁾
According to this team of economists: “While this meta-analysis concludes that lockdowns have had little to no public health effects, they have imposed enormous economic and social costs where they have been adopted. In consequence, lockdown policies are ill-founded and should be rejected as a pandemic policy institute.”
It’s now been more than two years since alarms were first sounded around the world about a novel virus. Even Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who has virtually been the American face of COVID policy, has recently admitted that we can’t destroy the virus.
“It’s not going to be eradicated and it’s not going to be eliminated,” Fauci told ABC’s “This Week.” “Each individual is going to have to make their calculation of the amount of risk that they want to take.”
Dictatorship leads to stupid decisions such as the current misguided, anti-science, inhumane lockdown in China. Humans must be allowed to have free will and decide for themselves.
The West must not—ever—go back to lockdown policies.
It’s time for governments around the world to start paying attention to the data and allowing people to live their lives again. For the sake of the lives of the Chinese people, I, a former resident of the great city of Shanghai, call on the CCP and Xi to stop the draconian lockdowns in Shanghai and elsewhere in China.
Jennifer Margulis contributed to this report.
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