Variant: The dance with change in 2021
Take Note

Editor's note: The video column does what the name says – take note of ideas that may make people uncomfortable. By taking notes and breaking down various opinions, we try to provide an alternative line of thinking that will hopefully generate deeper discussions. This is the first episode of a three-episode end-of-the-year review series.

"The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance." — Alan W. Watts

When I did the end-of-the-year review in 2020, I said I had faith because we had accomplished more than enough to believe we could handle the upcoming challenges. I still have that faith. But I want to question "how" we are handling them.

Watching the world dealing with COVID-19 in 2021 is like watching somebody solving a Rubik's cube that's fighting back. Every time we think we've got it, something changes. The public is mostly aware of the Delta and Omicron variants. But if you look at the World Health Organization (WHO) website, there are five variants of concern, two variants of interest, seven currently under the monitoring and 13 formerly monitored variants.

And people are still dying. This is the worldwide COVID-19 deaths and the seven-day average since January 2020. I've marked January 1, 2021, on it. So you could see the distribution. By June, global COVID-19 deaths this year had surpassed those of 2020. And the trend hasn't quite exactly waned since.

There are basically two ways to deal with the pandemic: lockdowns and vaccines. We all started somewhere in the extremes. In the beginning, it was total lockdowns or total reliance on vaccines. Then we gradually moved towards some kind of a middle ground.

In China, the strategy becomes imposing timely and targeted lockdowns – often about locking down a street or a residential area – while pushing for nationwide vaccination. The "zero-tolerance approach" is forecasted to be saving China from experiencing at least 630,000 infections a day.

It's different in other places. The impetus in America and many European countries is always to open up, and the vaccine is viewed as the "only" scientific solution. That's why you see some countries, Germany, for example, are contemplating or imposing lockdowns specifically for the unvaccinated. Even though it is shown that the new variant could affect the vaccinated as well as the unvaccinated.

Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called the international response to the pandemic the "revenge of the sovereign state": Everything is about me – my PPEs, my vaccines. You can add "my ways of dealing with the pandemic."

To this day, there's no global consensus on it. As a result, many have dug in on their own protection method and won't see the merit in others.

This has to change. No person or country can live with the endless cycle of surges and lockdowns. Globalization guaranteed cross-border transactions. We are going to have to open up sometime. It requires an international standard of practice that isn't averse to strategically deploying lockdowns and striving for more vaccine equality.

It's been two years now. Time to dance with the change.

Scriptwriter: Huang Jiyuan

Cameraman: Fan Xin

Video editor: Zhou Muyuan

Managing editor: Huang Jiyuan

Senior producer: Bi Jianlu

Supervisor: Mei Yan

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