7月18日，美国《每月评论》发表美籍记者和编辑黛博拉·韦内齐亚尔的文章《美国为何抗疫失败：无能、阶级暴力、欺骗和谎言》（Why the U.S. failed to control COVID-19: incompetence, class violence, deception, and lies），作者指出，新冠对美国社会的实际损害被大大低估了，资本找到了卑鄙但合法的方式来“抛弃”这些剩余人口，疾病大流行是其中的方式之一。而中国的社会主义仁政、科学管理和从这次流行病中学习的能力、以及中国人民的纪律和牺牲精神，在保护人民的生命和为未来做准备方面显示了令人难以置信的结果。
《每日评论（Monthly Review）》 截图
The United States (together with its Western allies) always tries to tell China what to do in managing COVID-19 outbreaks, and since the whole city of Shanghai was under lockdown, the U.S. media seems to have even more reasons to criticize China’s anti-virus policy. But here’s the irony: If China had done as “well” as the United States, 380 million Chinese would have been infected and 4.46 million would have died.1 In fact, only 5,226 people died from COVID on the Chinese mainland.2 This is an amazing achievement given that China is a developing country with far fewer medical resources per capita than the United States.3
If China followed the current advice of the Financial Times and the West, and abandoned the dynamic zero-COVID policy, millions of Chinese would die. To be sure, estimates of the likely number of deaths can vary by as much as 70% between models,4 because the models on which these estimates are based make many assumptions. Even the lowest published projected number of deaths (which includes many unconfirmed assumptions in the model) is over 1.6 million 5 and the model does not account for deaths from new COVID variants.
China takes human life seriously. Despite having a per capita income of only 17.3% of that of the United States,6 the average Chinese life expectancy is 77.9 years.7 Preliminary studies find that life expectancy in the United States is 76.6 years.8 American life expectancy declined by 2.26 years between 2020 and 2021. The U.S. media is advocating for China to abandon its dynamic zero-COVID strategy, which is basically advocating mass racist killings. Perhaps it is not surprising that the most violent state on earth is making such noises.
Let’s be objective: the United States is one of the worst countries in the world at controlling COVID-19, which has not only claimed more than one million American lives but has also caused and continues to cause enormous social and economic devastation in the country. This article examines the impact of U.S. anti-COVID policy and what the Western media has to say about it. Three main conclusions can be drawn.
First, the actual damage of COVID-19 to U.S. society has been greatly underestimated. Historically, pandemics have allowed pre-existing structural fractures in capitalist society to be exposed and magnified. The coronavirus has killed over a million people and infection rates remain high; the long-term post-COVID symptoms continue to damage people’s health, with minorities and the poor suffering disproportionately. The functioning of U.S. society has been severely disrupted, with working-class families bearing the heaviest costs. An already decaying healthcare system has been hit hard, with overextended facilities incapable of housing the large number of patients or treating them due to the lack of proper medical and personal protective equipment. Sixty-five percent of nurses across the United States have been verbally or physically assaulted in the past year, and one in three has claimed that they will resign by the end of the year.9
Meanwhile, billionaires and large corporations are reaping huge financial benefits during the pandemic. Selfishness, individualism, and racial hatred is spread throughout American society. In short, the callosity of the U.S. elite class reveals the pathological class violence against the working class in the United States. Marx scientifically points out that the process of capitalist accumulation itself constantly creates a disposable “surplus” population. In the United States, capital has found despicable yet legal ways to “dispose” of this surplus population, and pandemics are one of these ways.
Second, China’s socialist benevolent policy, scientific management, and ability to learn from this pandemic, as well as the discipline and sacrifice of its people, have shown incredible results in protecting people’s lives and preparing for the future. China, as a middle-income country, has the resources to take complex steps to protect the lives of its people. But to the embarrassment of the G7 developed countries, when China developed vaccines, it immediately made most of its production available to the world’s poorest people. This is internationalism. In sharp contrast, the United States, and its private pharmaceutical manufacturers, under its protection, refused to make the therapeutic drug Paxlovid and the vaccines available quickly and cheaply to other countries.
Third, the pandemic has forced the U.S. elite to wage their ideological war in an increasingly intense and virulent manner. They have used their hegemony in the media and other ideological spheres to hide the reality of their own failure to fight COVID, and to exaggerate the distortions and lies about China’s policy and effectiveness in fighting the virus.
The incompetence of the U.S. government has led to millions of deaths
When COVID-19 had not yet spread to the United States, its media and politicians called it a “plague”. Two years later, when COVID had infected more than 84 million people and killed more than 1 million in the United States, they changed their story and said that COVID-19 was–at least after several mutations–equivalent to seasonal influenza, and therefore promoted the policy of “coexistence with COVID-19”. Globally, COVID-19 has a case reported mortality rate of about 1.61%, 1.2% in the United States.10 In the U.S. there were an estimated 460,00 deaths from COVID in 2021 versus 20,342 11 deaths attributed to flu in 2019 (even less in 2021).
Based on global data, Case Fatality Rates (CFR) averaged one percent for Lassa hemorrhagic fever, mumps encephalitis, all less than Covid.12 “Coexistence with mumps” or “coexistence with smallpox” is unimaginable in developed industrial countries, where children with mumps-induced encephalitis are quarantined and smallpox has been eradicated since 1977. Yet the U.S. media and politicians are urging people to coexist with the coronavirus, which has a much higher death rate.
There is a conscious or unconscious belief that infectious diseases will become progressively less lethal as they mutate, eventually becoming a mild and common disease. Although infectious diseases usually evolve in a mild direction in the long term, it may not necessarily be the case in the short term.13 Immunologists tell us that the evolutionary trajectory of the virus depends on the complex interplay of several factors that shape the response of our immune system to the evolution of the virus. In a scenario where the virus has multiple hosts, such predictions become even more difficult.14
The Alpha variant is 40% more lethal than the original virus. Delta is twice as likely to cause severe cases than the Alpha variant, and the statistically relatively low mortality rate is likely the effect of widespread vaccination rather than a reduction in viral lethality. The Omicron variant is slightly less lethal (0.9%) but more infectious and has caused more deaths than the Delta variant in the United States.15 There is no guarantee that the next COVID variant will be less lethal, and it could still kill tens or hundreds of thousands of people. Leading German virologist Christian Drosten recently admitted his own optimistic estimates in the first year of the pandemic were wrong. He also distanced himself from a government committee convened to battle the disease.16 Betting that the virulence of the SARS-Cov-2 virus will reduce with time, cannot be a responsible public health measure.
The Financial Times has reluctantly acknowledged 17 that Europe is now facing a surge in new hospital admissions from the Omicron BA.5 variant. They have further acknowledged that lack of testing, abandonment of outbreak control, and high rates of reinfection in people who have already been vaccinated three times may lead to higher mortality rates in the future.
The effectiveness of herd immunization remains to be seen. When Trump was the U.S. President, he supported White House senior medical advisor Scott Atlas who said that if enough people were vaccinated (or infected with COVID), the virus would have nowhere to spread and die out naturally.18 For the same reason, Biden also focuses on vaccination, arguing that if vaccination rates reach 70% or more, masks can be fully abandoned and social activities resumed.19 But historically, effective herd immunization (e.g., measles) has three necessary conditions: a stable, non-mutating virus, a very effective vaccine, and high vaccination rates. And none of these three conditions existed at the beginning of the COVID pandemic.
In more than two years, COVID-19 has mutated into at least six major variants; vaccines effective against the Delta variant have become limited against Omicron;20 and vaccine efficacy decreases by 20 to 30 percentage points after about six months.21 There is also no evidence that patients infected with COVID-19 are automatically immune (like smallpox or mumps), and the number of reinfections with coronavirus has been rising sharply since the Omicron variant was discovered.22 From the beginning, Chinese central health officials have maintained the right scientific attitude and insisted that no compromise be made until there is sufficient evidence.
Although the cause remains unclear, substantial evidence shows that even after cure, COVID-19 can cause a variety of long-term symptoms, including extreme fatigue, shortness of breath, chest pain or tightness, reduced memory and attention, and joint pain.23 Thirty percent of patients who had been hospitalized for COVID-19 still suffer from long-term symptoms after six months,24 and some patients have had symptoms for more than two years. About one in five patients infected with COVID have developed long-term symptoms, nearly 17 million people across the United States.
British scholar Ravi Veriah Jacques, who recovered from COVID 14 months ago, still has to be bedridden for 13-16 hours a day due to chronic symptoms.25 Catie Barber, a registered dietitian and a 29-year-old long-distance runner in the United States, is still unable to walk and is confined to a wheelchair due to chronic symptoms five months after recovering, and she nearly lost her life to COVID-induced heart disease.26 Vaccination prior to infection provides only partial protection during the acute phase of the disease and has limited impact on long-term symptoms.27 For working class people who have to live on wages, these long-term symptoms can further impair their ability to work and their income levels.
All these facts raise the question of why the world’s most powerful and resource-rich country responded to the catastrophic outbreak of an infectious disease in such a way that its people have suffered so deeply? Around New Year’s Day 2020, officials from the Chinese Center for Disease Control called Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to warn him of the dangers of the COVID virus 28– a new virus that Chinese doctors had just identified a few days earlier. Incredibly, U.S. media claimed that China was withholding information. It was U.S. officials who withheld information from other agencies within the U.S. government, and from the American people. Their incompetence and withholding of information allowed the United States to waste valuable time in developing a response plan.