Outgoing White House chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci criticized China for rejecting Western vaccines while continuing to impose lockdowns on its citizens. Beijing argues that its strategy has led to a drop in the death toll.
“Their approach has been very, very stern and quite drastic in the types of stoppages with no apparent purpose,” Fauci said Sunday in an interview with NBC News.
Fauci, 81, who plans to retire by the end of next month, has led a disjointed response in the United States against Covid-19, marked by his about-face on issues such as the effectiveness of masks and herd immunity goals. He criticized China’s “Zero Covid” policies, although he had previously praised similar zero-tolerance mitigation approaches in Australia and New Zealand.
Mass anti-lockdown protests rocked several Chinese cities, including Shanghai, Wuhan and Beijing, over the weekend, reportedly sparked by a deadly fire at a building in Urumqi, with protesters blaming Covid restrictions for hampering rescue efforts.
“It seems like in China it was just a very, very strict and extraordinary lockdown, where you lock people in the house, but without any seemingly endgame,” Fauci said. “They went into an extended lockdown with no apparent goal or endgame, which really doesn’t make sense for public health.”
The Chinese Foreign Ministry said this summer that the “dynamic zero-Covid policy” is “does not aim for zero infection.” Instead, “it aims to control the spread of the virus at the lowest possible cost in the shortest possible time.” According to official figures, China has recorded 9.5 million infections and 30,000 deaths, while the United States has had more than 97 million cases and nearly 1.1 million deaths.
While President Joe Biden declared two months ago that the pandemic is “more,” Fauci contradicted that statement, saying on Sunday that the United States was still seeing 300 to 400 deaths from Covid-19 a day and lamenting that less than 15% of Americans had been inoculated with the most recent booster dose.
Fauci said Beijing made a mistake in refusing to bring in “very effective, 94-95% effective” Western and injection-based vaccines developed in the country, which he said were inferior to inoculations used elsewhere in the world. Yet despite being fully vaccinated and doubly boosted with an American vaccine, Fauci himself caught the virus twice.
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The controversial US health official also accused Chinese authorities of acting in a “suspicious and non-transparent manner” during epidemics, “even when there is nothing to hide.” However, Fauci himself has previously admitted to lying to the American public in order to “nudge” increase vaccination rates.