The US Covid-19 czar claims that Beijing has no clear strategy
The outgoing White House chief medical adviser, Dr. Anthony Fauci, has criticized China for rejecting Western vaccines while continuing to impose lockdowns on its citizens. Beijing argues that its strategy has led to a lower death count.
"Their approach has been very, very severe and rather draconian in the kinds of shutdowns without a seeming purpose," Fauci said on Sunday in an NBC News interview.
The 81-year-old Fauci, who plans to retire by the end of next month, led a disjointed US Covid-19 response marked by his flip-flopping on issues such as the efficacy of masks and herd immunity targets. He criticized China's 'Zero Covid' policies, despite previously praising similar zero-tolerance mitigation approaches in Australia and New Zealand.
Mass anti-lockdown protests rocked several Chinese cities including Shanghai, Wuhan, and Beijing over the weekend, allegedly triggered by a deadly apartment block fire in Urumqi, with protesters blaming Covid restrictions for hampering rescue efforts.
"It seems that in China, it was just a very, very strict, extraordinary lockdown, where you lock people in the house, but without any seemingly endgame to it," Fauci said. "They went into a prolonged lockdown without any seeming purpose or endgame to it, which really doesn't make public health sense."
China's Foreign Ministry stated this summer that the "dynamic zero-Covid policy" is "not aimed at zero infection." Rather, "it aims to control the spread of the virus at the lowest possible cost in the shortest possible time." According to official figures, China has recorded 9.5 million infections and 30,000 fatalities, while the US has counted more than 97 million cases and nearly 1.1 million deaths.
While President Joe Biden declared two months ago that the pandemic is "over," Fauci contradicted this statement, saying on Sunday that the US is still seeing 300-400 deaths from Covid-19 daily and lamenting that less than 15% of Americans have been inoculated with the most up-to-date booster shot.
Fauci said Beijing made a mistake by refusing to bring in "highly effective, 94-95% effective" Western vaccines and relying on domestically developed shots, which he claimed were inferior to the inoculations used elsewhere around the world. Yet despite being fully vaccinated and double-boosted with an American vaccine, Fauci himself caught the virus twice.
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The controversial US health official also accused the Chinese authorities of acting in a "suspicious, non-transparent way" during disease outbreaks, "even when there's nothing to hide." However, Fauci himself previously admitted to lying to the US public in order to "nudge" up vaccination rates.