American officials have imposed entry restrictions on travelers from China, Hong Kong, and Macau, to ensure they aren’t carrying variants of COVID-19 into the U.S.
However, some so-called health experts have once again suggested that rather than having American officials ensure diseases aren’t being brought over from China, they should instead subject citizens to greater scrutiny and medical domination.
Rules for thee, but not for Xi
With another winter comes another flu season. The average weekly hospital admissions for the general population are 5,600, approximately 74% lower than the worst of last winter’s Omicron surge, according to The Hill.
Notwithstanding a dramatic improvement over last year, so-called health experts — accustomed to seeing the masses dutifully wearing masks and getting vaccinated — think the attention newly assigned to travelers from China at U.S. ports of entry is misplaced.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently announced that travelers from China, Hong Kong, and Macau would be required to test negative for COVID-19 before being admitted to the United States.
The Hill reported that instead of such travel prohibitions, public health experts believe the best way forward is with mitigation efforts such as masking and vaccination, the efficacy of which has been hotly contested.
Michael Osterholm, the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, told The Hill, “If I saw any public health utility in [travel restrictions], I would strongly support it. I don’t see any public health utility.”
Osterholm suggested, “We should probably look at ourselves first. Any country ought to be testing people from the United States,” adding that there was no evidence the new COVID-19 variant is in China.
“We shouldn’t put all of our eggs in the basket of thinking that it’s only going to come from China. I think that’d be a terrible mistake,” said Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association.
British health adviser Sir Andrew Pollard suggested that the Chinese have “not had the extra immunity from having waves of COVID so it’s very difficult at this moment to tell whether a variant emerging in China is likely to have any impact here in the U.K.” or elsewhere.
Despite his intimation that natural immunity is beneficial, the conclusions Pollard instead reached in conversation with BBC Radio 4’s “Today” program were that travel restrictions have “already been shown not to work very well” and that the viruses borne by Chinese travelers are likely “best adapted to spread in a Chinese population.”
Anthony Fauci, who opposed a travel ban on China in January 2020, reiterated in his final White House appearance what he figured the best way forward for Americans is: not restrictions on potentially infected foreign nationals, but for Americans to get boosted.
Fauci did, however, concede that “if you want to let nature take its course, we’re ultimately going to get there.”
This is not the first wave of health experts and government officials to criticize or downplay the need for travel restrictions.
Opposition to travel restrictions at the outset
TheBlaze previously reported that President Joe Biden claimed at the outset of the pandemic that targeting Chinese travelers specifically to prevent spreading COVID-19 was “xenophobic fear-mongering.”
Biden had also said, “Banning all travel from Europe or any other part of the world may slow it but as we’ve seen will not stop it. And travel restrictions based on favoritism and politics, rather than risk, will be counterproductive.”
Biden was not alone in his aversion to keeping infected travelers out of the United States.
The “No Ban Act,” introduced by Democratic Rep. Judy Chu (Calif.) and co-sponsored by 219 House Democrats, was designed to limit the executive branch’s ability to prevent infected travelers from entering the country.
World Health Organization director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus condemned Trump’s proposed travel ban targeting China, saying, “There is no reason for measures that unnecessarily interfere with international travel and trade.”
In a Jan. 4, 2020, executive board session, Tedros said, “Such restrictions can have the effect of increasing fear and stigma, with little public health benefit.”
Concerning travel restrictions at the outset of the pandemic, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill epidemiology professor Lisa Gralinski said, “Are we having a reasoned response that’s justified by the data? Are we also protecting our population from, in this case, a virus that we still know fairly little about? … We don’t have a lot of great data saying that these measures are very effective.”
China has been stricken with a wave of coronavirus cases since early December.
The Washington Post reported that Chinese hospitals are overwhelmed, dumping patients along hallways.
On Dec. 21, the Shanghai Neuromedical Center posted a WeChat article suggesting that 7 million residents in the city had been infected and that roughly 12 million would ultimately be infected.
Notwithstanding this surge of infections, China has dropped its containment measures.
Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told WABC 770 AM, “Fifty percent of their population traveling. There is no reason we should allow the Chinese to do this again, to send Chinese-infected persons around the world knowingly infecting people all across the globe.”
Chinese dictator Xi Jinping will “infect millions more,” Pompeo suggested, since Chinese residents will now be able to jet across the globe.
“Xi got away with this once,” said Pompeo. “I regret he wasn’t held accountable.”
While so-called experts are doubling down, it appears as though Biden may have learned from his mistake.