Is there no end to Xi Jinping’s Covid incompetence? It would appear so.
In 2019-20, his Wuhan lab let loose a Covid virus on the world, and everybody paid dearly for the Chinese delay in informing the world about it.
Then it created ineffective vaccines that the world realised were not working to provide immunity to the vaccinated. This was probably why Xi adopted the zero-Covid strategy of locking down any building, area or city that reported even one infection.
And, for a while, we thought China had actually managed to do things fairly efficiently, without acknowledging the reality that supply chains were disrupted, and the pandemic itself took a toll on life and livelihoods everywhere. Whatever went wrong had a China linkage to it after the pandemic hit us in the solar-plexus.
Now, even as the rest of the world has gone back to normal, by giving itself better vaccines and improving health care facilities, the Chinese people, fed up with repeated incarcerations over Covid, revolted, and a scared Xi regime went from zero-covid to zero-spine to zero-strategy on managing the opening up.
As the New York Times reported it, China went from zero-Covid to no-plan in a matter of days.
That’s incompetence with a capital ‘I’, born out of fear of its own citizens’ wrath over previous incompetence in handling Covid. Now, some epidemiologists are saying that 60 per cent of the Chinese may be infected over the next three months.
Since Chinese goods and people movement is key to keeping the global economy up and running right now — whatever happens in the US or China affects everybody — it is a fair bet that infections will surge across the world.
The Indian government has woken up to the challenge and has asked states to start sequencing Covid genomes for estimating their virulence, but it needs to be more proactive again.
Apart from stepping up genome sequencing, it must do the following:
One, increase random testing and sero-surveys to check for possible dips in immunity levels.
Two, reimmunise — possibly with third and fourth booster doses — the vulnerable sections of the population.
Three, work to create new vaccine variants with greater efficiencies against the new Omicron mutants. Since it takes anything from six months to a year to crank up vaccine variants and production, the work must begin now.
The only defence against a hyper-incompetent China is hyper vigilance in India and the rest of the world. There is no vaccine against autocratic Chinese incompetence.
Jagannathan is Editorial Director, Swarajya. He tweets at @TheJaggi.
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