The BBC makes false claims about Zero Covid efficacy

The BBC has been spreading pro-Zero Covid misinformation on its website again:

I wrote a formal complaint and in a BBC first for me, then got an email saying my email verification was, er, unsuccessful.

The complaint was as follows…

I take issue with a claim made in this article by the BBC’s Yaroslav Lukov: ‘Covid in China: Million in lockdown in Wuhan after four cases’.

It reads: 

“China follows a “zero Covid” strategy, including mass testing, strict isolation rules and local lockdowns. (CLAIM) This has resulted in far fewer deaths than in many other countries.”

But has it though?

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 a 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 at the start of the pandemic. They did not mass test their population either. To quote the BBC in June 2020,

“Many paragons of Covid strategy, such as New Zealand and Vietnam, used tough measures including closing borders, tight lockdowns, large-scale testing and strict quarantines – but Japan did none of that.”

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 predict had my complaint reached the BBC, their response would have been along the lines of their explanation for Japan’s low death rate in the aformentioned article.

The BBC, desperately clinging on 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 articles says.

“It was lucky but also surprising,” Prof Shibuya says. “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, only leaving 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 out there makes the Japanese public look blase in comparison to the timid British in the weeks before the first official lockdown was announced. The Emphases are mine.

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 from an employee’s hanko, or personal seal.

The article accuse the late then Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of ‘pandemic kabuki’ an demands that he 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 unfair stereotype was invented to fit Japan’s inconveniently good outcome. It’s what the kids call a narrative collapse.

The BBC needs to retract that part of the article and stop giving legitimacy to lockdowns. It’s dangerous and irresponsible. The BBC needs to stop spreading scientific misinformation online.

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