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Another deadly anti-vaxx campaign

( Pequim – China, 24/05/2019) Vice-Presidente da República, Hamilton Mourão, durante Audiência com o Presidente da República popular da China, Senhor Xi Jinping. Foto: Adnilton Farias/VPR

The decision of the Chinese government to reject mRNA vaccines is going to get a huge number of people killed, in spite of extremely draconian lockdowns:

Then three things went very, very wrong.

First, as much of the world was turning to mRNA vaccines — a new approach adapted to Covid with miraculous speed — China insisted on using its own vaccines, which rely on older technology and have proved far less effective, especially against the Omicron variant of the coronavirus. Not only did China insist on using inferior but home-developed vaccines, it tried to discourage adoption of Western vaccines by spreading disinformation and conspiracy theories.

Second, vaccination rates among China’s elderly — the most vulnerable group — have lagged. This may in part be because disinformation about mRNA technology has not only discouraged people from taking the most effective vaccines, but it has bled into distrust of vaccines in general. It may also reflect broader distrust of the government; China’s leaders lie to their people all the time, so why believe them when they say you should take your shots?

Finally, the zero-Covid strategy is extremely disruptive in the face of highly contagious variants like Omicron, especially given the weak protection provided by Chinese vaccines.

The thing is, all of these failures, like Putin’s failures in Ukraine, ultimately stem from the inherent weakness of autocratic government.

As we enter year 3, the deaths are particularly tragic, since a massive percentage will have been entirely avoidable.

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