OPINION | COLUMNIST: Some countries never learn

The New York Daily News

Few countries can be said to have truly responded adequately to the deadly threat of the coronavirus. Ours certainly isn't near the top, with a poisonous fixation on individual liberty that shot even basic collective efforts to ward off the crisis.

Neither is China, the originator of the virus, for the opposite reason. The country's Communist Party dictatorship tried brute force to defeat the virus with the Zero Covid strategy, characterized by heavy-handed lockdowns that kept people constrained to their homes, sometimes without the ability even to buy food, and the government's now distinctive penchant for mass surveillance.

Like keeping the pressure on a wound without actually treating it, the strategy could only delay the deterioration, and the time of reckoning has come.

Nearly three years in, after countries around the world have been battered by covid-19, it is China again in the center of the maelstrom, with an exploding catastrophe in the form of hundreds of thousands of infections overwhelming an already beleaguered health system as the government seems to exasperatedly wash its hands of the whole thing.

This illusion will cost tens or hundreds of thousands of Chinese lives, just as our own flavor of self-delusion cost so many American ones. Let's let these tragedies mean something by at least learning their lessons and pledging to never again let these weaknesses turn a threat into a full-blown cataclysm.

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