Colorado vs. China: Who handled COVID-19 better? | Vince Bzdek | Opinion


As the Olympics open in China without fans and with draconian COVID-19 restrictions — and, at the same time, Colorado rolls back the last of its mandatory COVID limits — I thought it might be interesting to compare and contrast China and Colorado, and how they have handled COVID-19 over the past two years.

Absurd, you say. One is an authoritarian country of 1.4 billion people and the other is a free American state of only 5.8 million souls.

But this is exactly where it gets interesting.

Although China is 241 times larger than Colorado, Colorado has had twice as many COVID-19 deaths as China: 11,718 compared to 4,636.

Apples to apples, China has had three deaths per million people, while Colorado has had 1,928 deaths per 1 million people, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, about 642 times more deaths than China per million. of inhabitants.

In terms of COVID-19 cases, Colorado has recorded 1,266,443 cases compared to 106,000 cases in China, according to the World Health Organization. In other words, we have had 12 times more COVID-19 cases than the whole of China.

China distributed 3,009,901,519 vaccines; Colorado distributed 10,103,000.

That gives China an 84% vaccination rate, while Colorado’s rate is 72.12%.

Just for good measure, I also wondered how the Chinese economy was doing during its “Zero-COVID” policy.

In 2020, China’s growth rate dropped to 2.2% per year, but after a year of much stricter measures than Colorado, much of China normalized again in 2021 and the product gross domestic (GDP) rose 8.1%, beating most expectations.

Colorado’s GDP rose 5.5% year over year in the third quarter.

I’ll note that China’s fourth quarter GDP growth slowed to 4% year-over-year as many restrictions were resurrected when omicron hit, while Colorado’s continued to gain momentum. magnitude in the fourth quarter.

And certainly, any data coming out of China should be considered suspect after local authorities underestimated COVID cases early in the pandemic to hide the scale of the outbreak.

But it still makes for an interesting case study at a time when the Coloradans were deeply at odds over all the much milder COVID precautions we took to get to where we are now.

So how has China limited COVID-19 to fewer cases and deaths than Colorado, while doing a better job of reviving the economy?

It’s also a pretty relevant question in a kind of democracy versus autocracy. President Xi Jinping is using his handling of the virus to argue that Chinese autocracy works better than Western democracies.

So is this the case?

First, China’s “Zero-COVID” approach would have been impossible here, for very good reasons.

We are not an authoritarian state or country that can suspend all individual rights for a state purpose. Many of these rights are built into our laws and cannot be set aside just to have more leverage to fight a pandemic.

At the heart of our state and our country is the belief that the individual is the touchstone of worth, that government and all that it does exists for the benefit of the individual. Our main goal has always been the expansion of freedom for human beings.

On the other hand, China exalts the rights of the state over the individual and the family.

Yes, that means the state can shut down entire cities to stop COVID-19 and track the health of its citizens through apps that tell them where they can and can’t go.

But it also means that in the northwestern city of Xi’an, according to the New York Times, hospital workers refused to admit a man with chest pain because he lived in a medium-risk neighborhood. He died of a heart attack.

This means that Chinese authorities informed an eight-month-pregnant and bleeding woman that her COVID test was invalid and therefore she could not receive treatment, the Times also reported. She lost her baby.

This means that in the northwest city of Lanzhou last year, authorities forced around 4 million people to stay at home in response to fewer than 50 known cases of COVID.

It also means the government can suspend freedom of speech, protest, religion and the press to better address a health risk. Colorado can’t do that.

But there is another interesting question developing now. Will China’s approach really succeed in the long run? Is it sustainable?

In Colorado, we are entering a new era where we are learning to live with the virus rather than minimizing the number of cases.

After a wild spike in infections over the past month, modeling by a team of researchers indicates that up to 80% of Coloradans will be immune to omicron – which currently accounts for nearly all COVID-19 cases in the world. ‘State – by mid-February,’ journalist Seth Klamann tells me. That means overall cases should drop dramatically, deaths should start to drop, and we’re not as likely to get as sick when we catch COVID as before.

We are at a real turning point. Mask mandates ended in Denver, Adams County, Arapahoe and Jefferson County last week.

With all its successes, China is not at such a point.

Its Zero-COVID policy means it has little natural immunity, especially against variants, unlike countries where the virus has spread widely.

“The highly transmissible variants challenge China’s draconian response to the pandemic and cast doubt on its effectiveness,” Yanzhong Huang, global health researcher at the Council on Foreign Relations, told the South China Morning Post. “Because most of the population is vulnerable to the omicron variant, even a small opening could trigger a large breakout that will eventually engulf the entire country.”

Additionally, there is growing resistance to massive lockdowns in China, growing budget worries among economists, and falling consumption and domestic spending because so many citizens are simply unhappy.

Eurasia Group, a US-based consultant, has placed China’s Zero-COVID policy at the top of its list of political risks for 2022, according to The Times. The group believes the policy will eventually backfire and weigh on the global economy.

Meanwhile, in Colorado, our governor has declared, quite convincingly, that “the emergency is over.”

The coronavirus is now something “we live with,” Polis said in a recent interview. In a few weeks, our health officials believe the pandemic will transition to an “endemic” phase, where it will look more like seasonal flu.

“We’re going to live with it in three years,” Polis said. “We’ll live with it in five years.” Now, he added, “we have to learn how to empower people to protect themselves.”

So yes, China’s approach looks pretty good in the short term. In the long run, however, my bet is on democracies, America, and the Rocky Mountain Way.

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