Key Words: China’s zero COVID strategy ‘doesn’t make public health sense,’ says Fauci

United States

“If the endgame was to, “Let’s get everybody vaccinated including and particularly the vulnerable,” then you could see how a temporary lockdown like that — but they went into a prolonged lockdown without any seeming purpose or endgame to it, which is – really doesn’t make public health sense.”

— Dr Anthony Fauci

President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser said he is baffled by China’s zero COVID strategy of lockdowns and restrictions that boiled over into widespread protests across the country this weekend.

“Well, their approach has been very, very severe and rather draconian in the kinds of shutdowns without a seeming purpose,” Dr Anthony Fauci, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday.

Protests were seen across several cities, including Beijing, seemingly triggered by a fire that broke out in an apartment building of a city in northwest China where some have been stuck in their houses for four months. Ten people died in the fire, according to media reports.

In a rare outburst, protesters even called for the country’s powerful leader Xi Jinping to step down, as well as an end to the zero COVID strategy that is hampering the economy. It has also led to production issues for major western companies such as iPhone maker Apple AAPL, -1.96%.

Fauci recalled how when New York hospitals were overrun by COVID-19 cases three years ago, the decision was made to introduce restrictions, social distancing and shutdowns to help flatten the curve. But he notes it was a temporary move aimed at getting more people vaccinated and more personal protective equipment to where it was needed.

(The first vaccine wasn’t distributed in the U.S. until Dec. 2020.)

“It seems that in China, it was just a very, very strict extraordinary lockdown where you lock people in the house, but without seemingly any endgame to it,” said Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. He has announced he will step down from government posts next month.

Fauci said one “mistake” the Chinese government has made is to refuse outside vaccines and use their own, which have been “not particularly effective at all” compared with numerous ones, from companies including Pfizer PFE, +0.74% and Moderna MRNA, -0.23%, that are now available.

“But also interestingly, they did not, for reasons that I don’t fully appreciate, protect the elderly by making sure the elderly got vaccinated. So if you look at the prevalence of vaccinations among the elderly, that it was almost counterproductive, the people you really needed to protect were not getting protected,” he said.

Fauci also said that the U.S. needed to be careful heading into the winter with its own COVID-19 infections that are still causing 300 to 400 deaths a day. According to the CDC, the percentage of those at least five years olds with the updated booster dose was 12%.

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