Why ‘learn to live’ with COVID deaths?

If you write for the New York Times, expect to be assigned articles condemning China for causing its people enormous inconvenience and discomfort to avoid massive deaths from the coronavirus. The Times clearly shares the capitalist-class viewpoint that the world’s priority should be to get back to business as usual, to keep making profits regardless of the virus’s toll on the global working class. Their message: Live with the virus, ignore its presence and don’t bother us gathering statistics on COVID-19 infection rates and deaths.

Pity the poor Times commentators assigned to write these successive articles attacking China for COVID-19 policies that avoided the mass deaths experienced in the U.S. and much of the West. Month after month, they churn out diatribes that apparently are not fact-checked by their editors. Screenshot from 2022-09-15 20-15-07Most of their statistics are easily disputed by the Times’ own website, “Tracking Coronavirus Vaccinations Around the World.”

Writing for the Times on Sept. 7, Vivian Wang states that China’s “zero-COVID” policy “goes too far.” Wang suggests that China join the rest of the world and learn to live with the coronavirus. But just what would that look like for China?

Facts don’t lie

As Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) has repeatedly noted in response to the Times articles, had China taken the same approach to the pandemic as the U.S. did, 4.5 million more Chinese people would be dead.

In the U.S., population 331.45 million, over 1 million people have died since the initial outbreak in early 2020. The country continues to see spikes in COVID-19 deaths in 2022 from omicron variants. Currently there are 450 COVID-19 deaths per day in the U.S., roughly 160,000 deaths per year if the trend continues — a fact not mentioned by Wang or Times columnist Austin Ramzy writing from Hong Kong.

To date, China, population 1.4 billion, has had just 5,226 COVID-19 deaths until this spring, when an outbreak in Hong Kong raised the number to 15,000. Ramzy wrote the latest Times attack on China Sept. 8. China’s “zero-COVID” policy, he states, “has been a drag on China’s economy, travel and everyday life,” as lockdowns led to “shortages of food and other daily necessities in some cases.”

Perhaps since he’s writing from Hong Kong, Mr. Ramzy was unaware of the drag COVID-19 had on most Western economies including the U.S., where shortages of food and basic necessities like toilet paper were indeed a daily crisis. At least in China, most people survived the inconveniences — unlike millions in Europe and the U.S. who died.

Ramzy also apparently didn’t bother to research China’s GDP, which grew 2.2% in 2020 and 8.1% in 2021. According to FAIR, Goldman Sachs projects that China’s GDP growth for 2022 will be 3.0%, compared to the U.S. at 1.3%.

Vaccine controversy

Ramzy blamed China for “failing to vaccinate older people,” citing thousands of deaths this year in Hong Kong from the omicron surge. He fails to mention that Hong Kong’s health care system is modeled on the Western approach and totally separate from China’s vaccination policies.

He, and other Times writers busy attacking China for refusing to approve Western mRNA vaccines, neglect to acknowledge that the vaccine programs developed by major U.S. pharmaceutical companies are proving to be far from adequate in stopping the resurgence of new variants. What started out as “breakthrough” cases among vaccinated individuals in the U.S., who contracted COVID-19 in the summer of 2021, is becoming the norm. Not so with China’s vaccines.

Times articles attacking China started early in the pandemic. Some of the first suggesting that Chinese labs may have been responsible for manufacturing the virus were later proven false by the World Health Organization and other international scientists.

A major difference between socialist China and capitalist U.S. was laid bare by the failure of the U.S. profit-driven health care system to meet the demands of the COVID-19 crisis. This is still being experienced in 2022, as thousands of health care workers take to the picket lines in massive strikes across the country.

There is no denying that China, as a workers’ state, has policies designed to benefit and protect the working class. And China has provided vaccine assistance to other workers around the globe. Times writers frequently attack China’s COVID-19 policy for being “political” yet ignore the agenda of the Times as a major political voice for the U.S. and global capitalist ruling class.

Just how many lives will be lost from these “business as usual” policies?

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