Here’s a very important article from Science. On February 28th, a WHO-organized mission to China published a detailed report about the situation in China. It was led by a Canadian WHO epidemiologist named Bruce Aylward. The actual report is here. The article I’m recommending is an article summarizing the key findings of the report by two highly respected health policy and infectious disease journalists.
The report has taken some criticism for its tone toward the Chinese government. Some have called it obsequious or fawning because China is one of the WHO’s top funders. Regardless, experts seem to buy the core findings.
The gist is that China’s draconian and really unprecedented clampdown largely worked and worked beyond the expectations of most members of the mission. New infections have been going down in China for some time and they remain overwhelmingly in Wuhan where the outbreak started. Of 80,026 infections in mainland China, 67,103 are in Hubei province, where the outbreak began. The problem is that they did so at the cost of bringing large sections of the national economy almost to a standstill. They can’t do that indefinitely. They’ve started to ease up now. So it’s a very live question whether the spread will just come roaring back.
Equally important, just what China did and how it did it would be unacceptable and unsustainable in most of the rest of the world. Certainly it would be in the United States. And it probably wouldn’t be possible in any case. China brought the full force of its state power and surveillance capacity to bear, which is vast.
So the operative questions are what can the rest of the world learn from what they did? Are there lessons we can learn that are adaptable to US law and civil liberties? And can the Chinese reopen their economy without the virus roaring back. Again, critical questions. Must read article.