"Zero-COVID" strategies were best option: New Scientist
LONDON, April 7 (Xinhua) -- Several countries are now abandoning their goal of reducing the coronavirus's spread as much as possible, but evidence shows this was the best route to be taken, New Scientist has reported.
It has been two years since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic. One of the biggest shifts has been the abandonment of the "zero-COVID" strategy by countries like New Zealand and Vietnam, which are opening up and allowing the virus to spread.
As a result, the report said it is tempting to think the approach was a mistake and that the strategy of nations like Britain has won out. But that is nonsense.
Countries that followed the "zero-COVID" playbook have done better on every measure, from death rates to economic growth, said the magazine.
The most obvious benefit is that far fewer people die, said the report. As of March 18, New Zealand had seen 151 confirmed deaths from COVID-19, or 0.003 percent of its population, even though the virus repeatedly snuck into the country. In contrast, more than 164,000 people are confirmed to have died in Britain, which is 0.24 percent of the population.
"Zero-COVID" policies also cause less economic harm, the report continued. When the virus is barely present, people feel confident going out, so the economy can reopen more fully. There is an economic cost to the initial lockdown, but many nations that allowed the virus to spread have also had lockdowns to save their health systems and so paid the same costs, and their lockdowns were often longer, the magazine added.
"If the target of 'zero-COVID' is now being ditched, does that mean it was a failure? A crude answer would be: only if you think saving lives and preserving economic growth constitutes a misstep," said the report.