The strict policies saved lives, but cannot be sustained, said Ali Mokdad, a professor of health metrics sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle.
“They do not have a plan B,” said Mokdad, adding that China’s approach ultimately will lead to surges in deaths and strain on hospitals. “They cannot lock the country forever.”
While China’s tough rules helped to avoid the thousands of infections, hospitalizations and deaths seen in the West during the first year of the pandemic, that disappeared with the emergence of the super-infectious omicron variant, Tang said.
“The only thing to do is to accept that there is going to be a certain level of disease,” Tang said.
Pandemics of highly contagious diseases end via natural immunity, vaccinations, or both, and/or the virus mutates to a less virulent form. All of those have occurred now; a recent paper estimated that 77% of the U.S. has now had Covid, and 94% have antibodies from vaccine or having had Covid.
Strict NPIs, per WHO’s 2019 paper, only work for a limited period (they are not sustainable), do not work well, or do not work at all. It is impossible to achieve Zero Covid when the virus also exists in animals.