China vs. COVID, Reality vs. Rationalizations, Science vs. Spin
Einar Tangen

Editor's note: Sharing the complete genome sequence, promising the vaccines a global public product, and cooperating with developing countries in vaccine production... Since the outbreak of COVID-19, China has made many firsts in research and development of vaccines. Safe and effective vaccines, as CGTN current affairs commentator, Einar Tangen points out, enable both China and over 120 countries and international organizations to handle the pandemic better. The commentary reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily those of CGTN.

Hi, I'm Einar Tangen. Welcome to Reality Check. The Western traditional and social media narrative is that China was unprepared to begin its co-existence with COVID. These are the same groups, that 40 days ago, were demanding that China immediately reverse its COVID containment strategy, on economic and humanitarian grounds, or face economic and political collapse.

China's government earned stellar marks, in terms of the people's support for its actions. As complied by a slew of independent international surveys, that put confidence in the central government between the high 80s to 95 percent, since 2020. So what is the reality?

"We were the first to promise to make COVID-19 vaccines a global public product, the first to support intellectual property exemptions for vaccine research and development, and the first to cooperate with developing countries in vaccine production. We have supplied more than 2.2 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines to more than 120 countries and international organizations," said Mi Feng, Spokesman for the China's National Health Commission.

In fact, half of the vaccines administered over the last 3 years were from Chinese manufacturers, who were willing to go the extra step, by creating joint ventures to manufacture vaccines in other countries. A stark contrast to most of the developed nation manufacturers who refused to share or reduce prices for their vaccines.

The recent release of 60,000 deaths, fully, or partially, attributable to COVID has stunned the doubters, who were forecasting a million or more deaths.

"A total of 59,938 deaths related to COVID-19 occurred in hospitals nationwide, from Dec. 8, 2022 to Jan. 12, 2023. Of these 5,503 died due to respiratory failure, caused by COVID-19, 54,435 died due to underlying issues complicated by COVID-19. The average age at the time of death was 80.3 years. About 90.1 percent  of those were over 65, 56.5 percent, being for those over 80," said Jiao Yahui, Head of the Bureau of Medical Administration, under the National Health Commission.

So how has China been able to deal with COVID better than developed nations with more resources? Simply through basing its policies on science and pragmatic implementation.

In terms of science, after the first outbreak in 2019, China shared the complete genome sequence of the novel coronavirus on January 11, a little less than a month after it had been identified. It had taken over a year to do it in 2002 during the first SARS outbreak. By October 2022, 46 COVID-19 vaccines were in human trials in China, and over 20 were in overseas clinical trials. These included: three inactivated monovalent vaccines, designed to neutralize Omicron variants, which are currently in testing for sequential immunization in the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and United Arab Emirates; three domestically-developed mRNA-based COVID-19 broad-spectrum vaccines; an oral inhalation vaccine that has already been approved for emergency use as a booster. So far, 13 COVID-19 vaccines have been developed and been given conditional market approval or greenlighted for emergency use in China. Recent agreements have opened the market for a number of outside approaches as well.

In terms of pragmatic implementation, China with 1.4 billion people, has, considering the logistics involved, been extremely effective. In the end, the truth will be reflected in the numbers. When the total excess deaths and disabilities are calculated and compared country by country, 6 months from now, China's handling of COVID can be compared apples to apples with other countries.

So as you read through the latest criticism of China's handling of COVID, you might do well to think about the facts and ignore the spin, especially when it comes to measuring how your government handled COVID.


Script: Einar Tangen

Editors: Duan Jiaxin, Liang Zhiqiang

Producer: Wang Ying

Chief editor: Li Shouen

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