China’s Covid-zero strategy ‘will fuel more harm than good’
By keeping people cut off from the virus, the country may make them more vulnerable once they’re exposed: expert
Michael Mina has long pushed for widespread testing as a way to stop Covid-19 outbreaks in their tracks. But what China is doing, he says, is going too far.
Wedded to a pandemic strategy that still seeks to eliminate every coronavirus case, the world’s most populous country is rolling out a vast network of testing booths in urban areas so millions of people are within a 15-minute walk of getting swabbed at all times. Cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Hangzhou are requiring tests as often as every 48 hours to access public transit, entertainment venues and even workplaces.
While Mina, a former Harvard epidemiologist, was an early proponent of using inexpensive at-home tests to screen populations for initial cases of Covid-19 before they spread, he says China is taking the concept to another level. Entire cities and towns are covered by mass-testing mandates that require laboratory analysis, with results sent to health-tracking apps on a person’s smartphone. ..