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How China won and U.S. lost the war against COVID-19
By Makhdoom Babar  ·  2022-11-21  ·   Source: The Daily Mail, Pakistan

The deadly COVID-19 spread out in December 2019, the U.S. Government's response was marked by downplaying the threat, inaction or partial measures, confusion, and inaccurate public statements and it resulted into immense loss of opportunities to slow the spread by facilitating a vigorous public health response of containment and suppression based on testing, contact tracing, and isolation following the confirmation of the first U.S. case on January 21, 2020. 

After banning foreign nationals from entering the U.S., if they had been in China in the prior two weeks, on January 31, an apparently overconfident U.S. Government was blindsided by the rapid community outbreak of COVID-19, necessitating a declaration of a national emergency on March 13, 2020, indicate the investigations of The Daily Mail.

These investigations further suggest that at that time, the U.S. Government remained unable to help local government at states level to carry out widespread testing—despite the U.S. President's claims that anyone who wanted a test could get one—and had not addressed the expected massive shortfalls of personal protective equipment (PPE) and ventilators.

By March 26, 22 states had issued shelter-in-place orders, and some one in two Americans were in lockdown. By March 30, the death toll had exceeded 3,000 and by May 28, deaths passed the 100,000 mark and by the end of the same year, the U.S. had surpassed 346,000 deaths. These investigations indicate that when the World Health Organization first called COVID-19 a pandemic on March 11, 2020, few people had any idea what the world was actually going to go through in days and months to come. The U.S. emerged as the worst government to react to this pandemic alert, reveal the investigations carried out by The Daily Mail.

Among the biggest shocks was that the U.S. fared worse than most other countries, with more than 29 million cases and nearly 530,000 deaths as of this writing. "We absolutely can't say that we had the most robust response to the pandemic, up till this point, because we have had a higher death rate per capita than so many other places," says a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco.

These investigations indicate that during the pandemic's crucial early days and weeks, then U.S. President Donald Trump and top members of his administration kept all their focus on downplaying the threats emerging out of the swiftly spreading pandemic and they spent rest of their energies on hurling accusations on China for this spreading and went to the extent of terming the virus as China Virus.

The early response to the pandemic by the U.S. Government was so pathetic and unscrupulous that none other but the U.S. President himself dismissed it as no worse than the flu and said the pandemic would be over by Easter. Similarly, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officially told the media that the threat to the American public was very low.

When a CDC spokesperson acknowledged in late February that disruptions to daily life could be "severe," the agency was straightaway sidelined and all its experts thrown away with U.S. President himself becoming the government’s main conduit for COVID updates through his daily briefings. The Daily Mail's research indicate that the Trump administration very tightly controlled what the CDC experts on the matter put out.

Not only this but in certain cases virologists at the research institution across the U.S. were put under an almost house arrest like situation. These investigations indicate that this muzzling of the CDC and top government health experts made it hard for them to communicate accurate and lifesaving scientific information to the public.

While on the other side, at this stage the Chinese Government, through its experts, had made all the sufficient arrangements to protect its people with Chinese virologists and health experts giving even the minute details and updates not only to local public but were sharing the technical data with global experts. The Daily Mail's investigations further indicate that on the directions of the top government authorities, the U.S. Centre for Diseases Control, the CDC developed its own testing system for the virus rather than employing the one that was being used by the World Health Organization.

However, the CDC testing system turned out to be a complete failure causing a deadly delay while scientists worked out the problem and since the CDC was primarily not designed to produce tests at the scale needed to spot the infections as they silently spread through the population, it caused added troubles to save the lives of the Americans. Similarly the U.S. Food and Drug Administration also turned out to be moving at a snail’s pace, slow to approve tests made by private companies.

The research reveals that another example of U.S. Government's miserable failure to fight COVID-attack was the introduction of nonsensical criteria for COVID testing. This research indicates that the earliest criteria for getting a test in U.S. were too stringent as one must often had to be hospitalized with severe symptoms and have recently traveled to a "high-risk" area. As a result of these hurdles, the virus spread remained undetected for weeks.

By the time testing became somewhat more available, community spread was already rampant in many places, making it difficult or impossible to do contact tracing and isolate people before they infected others.

The Daily Mail's investigations indicate that methodology of combating COVID by testing people who may be sick, tracing their contacts, and isolating or quarantining those who are positive or exposed – adopted by China worked very well. Pakistan was the 2nd to replicate it and equally benefited, thus both countries were able to minimize the life loss in pandemic.

Seeing this, the WHO also started to stress upon the importance of these measures and few other countries including Vietnam, Thailand, New Zealand and South Korea followed this methodology closely and got the result similar to the ones attained by Pakistan and China.

US authorities did not do an adequate job of isolating those who were known or suspected to be infected , did not bother for tracing their contacts and also did not ensure mandatory quarantines for those who were exposed.

The Daily Mail's investigations indicate that both China and Pakistan started bulk production of face masks soon after the COVID emerged as a Pandemic with China later beating the entire global face mask manufacturing industry and even started donating face masks to many countries across the globe, realizing the immense requirement of this item for minimizing the virus transmission, the U.S. authorities, following the White House's policy of keeping the COVID issue as a low-key matter, wasted a lot of time to recommend the use of face masks for public use.

The Daily Mail's investigations indicate that in the crucial early weeks, the U.S. authorities told their people that it was not essential for the general public to wear face masks unless a person was experiencing symptoms or caring for someone who was. The CDC is also on record to have in fact urged people not to buy high-filtration N95 and surgical masks because they were needed for health care workers and were in short supply because of inadequate government stockpiles and its lack of vision to start large scale production of the masks just like Pakistan and China. The CDC, later, however changed course a bit and recommended cloth face coverings in April 2020.

The research indicates that even after his CDC experts reached a consensus that masks were effective to minimize the versus transmission, the U.S. President Donald Trump refused to set an example by wearing one in public. Not only this but he even went out to mock and ridicule the people who wore them, and many of his supporters rejected masks as well. A study in Nature Medicine published online estimated that universal mask wearing could have saved nearly 130,000 lives during the fall and winter of 2020–21.

It remains a fact that at a stage, South Korea, a country whose first confirmed case of COVID-19 coincided with that of the United States, bought 720,000 masks for employees of businesses considered at risk of exposure to the coronavirus. When asked if the U.S. Government would supply personal protective equipment (PPE) to states, President Trump responded by saying that it would not act as a "shipping clerk."

The Daily Mail's research further indicates that during the early stage of pandemic, U.S. Government believed that the virus transmission could only spread, primarily, by direct contact or relatively large droplets from a nearby cough or sneeze and not by far smaller droplets that linger in the air. As a result, officials placed a huge emphasis on washing one’s hands and cleaning surfaces. Scientists now believe transmission from surfaces is not the main way the virus spreads and that aerosols play a much larger role.

Ensuring proper ventilation and wearing well-fitted, high-quality masks are much more effective ways to reduce transmission than deep cleaning surfaces. Yet the latter, which critics have dubbed "hygiene theater", continues to be a focus of many offices and businesses across the U.S.

The research indicates that pandemic exposed and exacerbated deep-rooted racial and economic inequities in health and health care in the U.S. society. Black and Hispanic individuals and other people of color were sickened with, and died of, COVID at disproportionately high rates. Many people in Black and brown communities had already long suffered from high rates of underlying conditions such as obesity and diabetes as a result of inadequate health care, lack of access to nutritious foods and outdoor space, and higher exposure to pollution.

They also comprise a large percentage of essential workers in frontline industries with an inherently high risk of COVID exposure. The uneven death toll came as an alarming fact that far too many people of color lack access to preventative health care, as well as protections such as paid sick leave or hazard pay.

The Daily Mail's findings indicate that the U.S. leadership completely failed to develop a strong and effective national strategy to strongly combat the COVID-19. While successive U.S. leaders continued to blaming and shaming China, they left much of the pandemic response up to state and local leaders. In the complete absence of a comprehensive and coordinated national strategy, different states of the U.S. implemented a patchwork of largely uncoordinated policies that did not effectively suppress the spread of the virus.

This caused sudden, massive spikes of infections in many local outbreaks, placing enormous strain on health care systems and leaving no region untouched by the disease and every district, every county, every state could make decisions and keep them to themselves. The U.S. Government has been widely criticized for how the pandemic played out there.

The Daily Mail's findings indicate that the U.S. President Donald Trump was not only targeting WHO for slashing its funding during the peak of pandemic but in fact each of the Trump administration’s four budget proposals had recommended slashing funding for the US' own Center for Disease Control (CDC). In 2018, the CDC cut its epidemic prevention activities, which help "train front-line workers in outbreak detection and work to strengthen laboratory and emergency response systems in countries where disease risks are greatest," by 80 percent; moreover, it significantly scaled back its focus on emerging infectious diseases in several of the world’s hot spots, including China.

Despite calls from the CDC, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and the National Security Council to increase funding in the fiscal year 2020 budget, the Trump administration proposed a 12 percent cut to the HHS and a 10 percent cut to the CDC. The Daily Mail's research indicates that during the weeks following the COVID outbreak, it became clear to state governments that they would have to increase spending to unanticipated levels.

Yet a lack of aid from the federal government forced states and localities, who had much stricter budget requirements than the federal government, to cut payrolls for more than 1 million employees, representing a 5.2 percent drop in the total nonfederal government employment level. Without strong guidelines from the White House, states were forced to fend for themselves, often bidding against one another to provide their frontline health care workers with protective gear.

The Daily Mail's investigations indicate that the failure of the U.S. Government in ensuring economic growth during the COVID spike, just like Pakistan and many other countries is evident from the fact that the U.S. Government miserably failed to protect, rescue and assist it small businesses. Even before shelter-in-place orders were commonplace across states, businesses were noticing sharp declines in consumer activity.

By the beginning of April, 24 percent of small businesses had reported temporarily shutting down. By mid-May, more than 100,000 small businesses had closed permanently, representing 2 percent of the nation’s total. The Paycheck Protection Program, a provision in the CARES Act intended to help employers keep operations running despite revenue shortfalls, was plagued by reports of large, publicly traded companies receiving massive sums while small businesses were left without help. A report released by the Small Business Administration's inspector general found that the Trump administration's implementation left out minority-owned, woman-owned, and rural businesses.

Despite a second round of funding through the program, small businesses are still suffering immensely: Some projections estimate that small business closures could approach 7.5 million if businesses are forced to weather the economic impacts of the outbreak on their own. In China, Pakistan and Germany, for instance, early actions by the governments allowed most factories and offices to stay open throughout the pandemic.

The Daily Mail's research indicates that the failure of the U.S. Government to take the COVID crisis seriously and its inadequate and delayed testing regime led to a public health crisis that required workers and consumers to shut down their activity.

The failure to implement a speedy response to keep people employed, whether through supporting small businesses, preventing state and local job cuts, or maintaining workers' connections to payrolls, resulted in millions of layoffs that may have otherwise been avoided. Already, this has caused the United States to experience far higher unemployment levels than other countries.

The Daily Mail's investigations reveal that on the other hand, China's leadership, its officials, scientists, researchers and even volunteers, all come up with an unprecedented zeal to fight back the deadly virus and made unprecedented achievements in the direction of not only responding to halt the virus spread but also to dig out the cure to the menace despite all odds, reveal the Special Investigations, carried out by The Daily Mail.

The Daily Mail's investigations indicate that the Chinese Government's response to this new outbreak was dramatically swift and magnificently decisive. These investigations indicate that Chinese health authorities were the first to post the full genome of the 2019-nCoV in the Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (GISAIDexternal icon) portal, an action which very smartly and effectively facilitated detection of this virus.

These investigations reveal that though on January 30, 2020, the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee of the World Health Organization declared the outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concernexternal Icon, (PHEIC) that calls for coordinated international response, Chinese Government had already put its counter measures in top gear.

The Daily Mail's investigations reveal that contrary to what the U.S. Government did to its own CDC, the strengthening of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention emerged as a turning point in outbreak response. This represented very welcome progress and development for global health security and diplomacy.

These investigations indicate that in a massive effort of national and international coordination, a consortium led by Chinese scientists and international researchers was rapidly brought together. This included the Shanghai Public Health Clinical Center and School of Public Health, the Central Hospital of Wuhan, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (China CDC), the Huazhong University of Science and Technology, the Wuhan Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institute for Communicable Disease Control and Prevention, and the University of Sydney, Australia.

The Daily Mail's investigations indicate that from January 3, 2020 to November 6, 2022, there have been nearly 8,578,991 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 27,666 deaths across China. China's dramatically low COVID causalities rate has been attributed by the global researchers to China's rapid response and the effectiveness of country's strengthened health system. The experts, contacted by The Daily Mail say that China was following a unique and state of the art counter strategy. They said Chinese doctors were putting people on drips and ventilators to ensure that they get enough fluids and oxygen while their body's immune system fights the virus.

The Daily Mail's investigations confirm that since at the time of the detection of virus, there was no specific treatment available, Chinese authorities decided to focus on alleviation of symptoms which may include fever, dry cough, and shortness of breath. The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CCDC) started testing existing pneumonia treatments for efficacy in treating Coronavirus-related pneumonia.

They started studying existing antiviral including protease inhibitors like indinavir saquinavir and lopinavir/ritonavir, as well as the RNA polymerase inhibitor remdesivir. While they also included to put Interferon beta under study while the effectiveness of previously identified monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) was also put under investigation.

The Daily Mail's investigations indicate that as result of these immediate studies and research process, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention has already started intensive work to develop a vaccine against the novel Coronavirus which were later successfully tested and administered not only Chinese natives but also donated to the global community.

Global researchers and scientists highly appreciated the rapid response by Chinese Government to the Coronavirus issue and in the words of Professor Peter Hotez, a noted American expert of vaccinology, it was simply "remarkable" that scientists were able to develop a vaccine for COVID on the basis of the virus data, shared by Chinese experts. He credits Chinese researchers, who quickly sequenced and published the virus' genome.

Misreporting and even false reporting has been very common so far with regard to reporting the Coronavrius situation. If the so-called mainstream media across the world was not enough to crate maximum fuss, the new tool of media that is the social media also continued to play its dirty role most of the time. Showing fake or irrelevant videos and linking them to the actual situation in China remained a routine. Ridiculing Chinese nation and Chinese leadership to settle certain unfinished agendas, has also been quite prominent by certain social media activists and media outlets.

To all this nonsense, Chinese people and Chinese leadership responded with beating the COVID with iron fist, Chinese leadership, with acute support of its people, not only managed to control COVID without major life or economic losses, but they also proved of being the world leaders by successfully holding Winter Olympic Games and successive International Import Expos besides many other global events across China.

 (Additional reporting by Sandra Johnson in Washington, Angela Alderman in Sydney, Sardar Shahab in London, Olga Dmitri in Moscow and Uzma Zafar in Islamabad)

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