THE BBC has been spreading Covid misinformation on its website again.
Under the heading Covid in China: Million in lockdown in Wuhan after four cases, Yaroslav Lukov writes: ‘China follows a “zero Covid” strategy, including mass testing, strict isolation rules and local lockdowns. This has resulted in far fewer deaths than in many other countries.’
Firstly, it is gullible to believe official figures from an ultra-authoritarian, communist one-party state such as China. It’s like taking official figures from Russia, Belarus, Syria or North Korea at face value.
Secondly, the claim that the use of a zero Covid strategy results in far fewer deaths is demonstrably false. There is no correlation between the stringency of Covid restrictions and fewer deaths, let alone causation.
China’s neighbour Japan (a free, democratic and law-governed country, unlike China) did not go for a zero Covid strategy. They had and have restrictions and took some voluntary measures, but these were nothing like the zero Covid regimes imposed in China, Vietnam, Australia and New Zealand.
For example, Japan never had any full lockdowns. At the start of the pandemic in 2020, before there was a ‘vaccine’, they even left their borders open. They did not mass test their population either.
Yet in 2020 Japan suffered negative excess mortality, and today, it has a lower Covid death rate than Vietnam and Australia.
So the BBC is simply wrong to assume that a zero Covid strategy is the reason China has had fewer deaths than many other countries. Even if we believe China’s official figures, it could be that they would have had a lower death rate anyway, without such harsh restrictions, as with Japan.
I wrote a formal complaint to the BBC about the article, and received an email saying my email verification was unsuccessful.
I predict that had my complaint reached the BBC, the response would have been along the lines of the explanation for Japan’s low death rate in another article published in July.
In it the BBC, desperately clinging to lockdowns, said it was because ‘in Japan . . . the government can count on the public to comply’, as if we were not pathetically compliant in Britain, Europe and the Anglosphere.
‘Despite not ordering people to stay at home, on the whole, they did,’ the article says.
It quotes Professor Kenji Shibuya, director of Public Health at King’s College London: ‘Japan’s mild lockdowns seems to have had a real lockdown effect. Japanese people complied despite the lack of draconian measures.’
Did they? Did every single person literally stay at home, leaving only once a day to get supplies, once again for an hour of exercise? Did no one dare sit on a park bench?
A panicky article titled Japan’s coronavirus response is too little, too late, written in April 2020 by a Japan based Washington Post journalist, describes a very different scene in Japan’s capital and largest city, Tokyo. His description of day-to-day life there made the Japanese public look blasé in comparison with the timid British in the weeks before the first official lockdown was announced:
‘Tokyo’s coronavirus “state of emergency” is as surreal as they come. Though the streets are noticeably quieter than normal, subways and buses are still jammed with commuters. Stock trading goes on as normal. Many bars, restaurants and cafes are abuzz. So are barbershops, beauty salons and home improvement centers. In Shibuya and other meccas of youth culture, teenagers who should be hunkering down at home are out and about . . .
‘The vast majority of Japanese are still going to the office and taking crowded rush-hour trains. Japan Inc.’s traditions and rigidities are proving quite incompatible with teleworking booms abroad. Old habits die hard in paper-based Japan. Documents of all kinds require a physical stamp.’
The article called for the then Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to impose a strict ‘shelter in place’ policy, even describing him as ‘Trumpian’.
Clearly, Japan was not a strict nation whose people could be trusted to terrorise themselves. That stereotype was invented to fit Japan’s inconveniently good outcome. It’s what the kids call a narrative collapse.
The BBC needs to stop giving legitimacy to lockdowns. It’s dangerous and irresponsible.
This article appeared in the Harry Dougherty Blog on August 2, 2022, and is republished by kind permission.