“People First,” not "Epidemic Control First”
Thank you for the wonderful post. I was particularly intrigued by “People First,” not "Epidemic Control First”. Overall, it was both frustrating and refreshing to hear the argument that China can't immediately "liberalize" because "the booster vaccination rate for people over 80 years of age is only 40%". It is important to identify this as an exit condition so that there are clear goals.
However, it also makes me wonder why, after nearly 2 years of vaccine availability, more has not been done. If the leadership has been unable to achieve high vaccination rates after 2 years, why should anyone believe they can do it effectively now?
The second frustrating point were the comments about not being able to exit zero-covid because the vaccination rate in children was low. There is ample evidence (as pointed out in the challenge to the piece) that COVID mortality for children is very small indeed. The fact that this part was included in the original post makes me question the organizational structure and planning of the zero-covid pivot. Is vaccinating children really a necessary condition? If it is, then whoever is making decisions does not seem to be taking into account science.
If it is not, why write it? The obvious explanation is that the conditions to "liberalize" in the article are the opinions of a small group of individuals in Zhejiang who are not particularly scientifically informed. This in turn suggests that they themselves have not been informed, by central leadership, of the conditions that would need to be fulfilled in order to "liberalize". This would essentially mean that local governments are and have been flying in the dark all this time. Sometimes, we try to figure out what the plan is, and in doing so, assume that one exists. I suspect the authors of the piece are in the exact same position as us, only they are the ones tasked with carrying out the "non-plan" - and that is worrying.