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tv   To the point - Olympic struggle Can China beat Omicron  Deutsche Welle  January 21, 2022 1:30am-2:01am CET

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ah, i think everything jenny fair, some are big amazon, so much different culture between here and there. so challenging for empathy. ah, to some of this i think it was worth it for me to come to germany. shove my got my license to work as a swimming instructor. here i'm dish and now i teach children on adults with what's your story? take part, share it on info, migrants dot net ah, ah winter olympics in beijing i'll, looming ever closer and china is being put to the text as it battles to contain. outbreaks of the highly contagious omicron strain of copious 19 china has adopted
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a 0 covey policy. that means strict restrictions in public life in many parts of the country. so is it working or might backfire? until the point we ask olympic struggle, can china beat on the chrome with? well, thanks very much for joining us here today on the show in the studio with me is so g fun, bruno some from d w's asia desk? she said a 0 coven policy. might have benefited china in the last 2 years, but only kron ambia lympics could be a game changer. also with us is to be us caught a professor of public health at berlin, charity hospital. he argues nothing can stop me crohn. it can only be slowed down.
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and one welcome to to science journalist tie cook fish made the sais with much of the country, vaccinated the question of what an exit from 0 covey in china code, and should look like looms large. thank you for being here. all 3 of you. thank you for those interesting comments. lots to talk about. so let's get on with it sir. so g, the eyes of the world on bay gene, that's for sure. the stakes are high. what is your feeling? is a large scale outbreak of the on the conveyor and likely in china in the near future . i think because the high transmission rate of, on the con, it's something very new. china's dealing with at the moment. and i think china will do everything in its power to try and contain and not lead to an outbreak during the olympics. ah, as well as we kind of have a perfect storm situation because we have the lu, not chinese lunar new year. that is on the 1st of february, which is usually the period of high as migration in china. and even though the
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chinese government has advised everyone to stay at home and not travel and they are taking a lot of precautions for the olympics, they're fencing off all facilities and athletes are being ferried to the campers and having every day a test. and if you're vaccinated, you don't need to current teen, but all the precautions are in place. but i think with every single army kron case that arrives in china, every single case will we, can she, jim pings a 0 cove it policy? and i think that in the future we can, as you said before, we can only slow down on a cron mud. i think china will stick as with the 0 coverage policy for as long as it can occur. accomplishment either i just wonder, you know, a lot of people must be listening to this kind of these kind of comments looking at
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the situation of the moment, i'm wondering why on earth is, is an event like the olympics being staged with all of this time in this place, it's a good question. i think, i mean, of course, from the chinese perspective, i think it's also, it's, it's an opportunity to prove to the world, you know, the superiority of the chinese approach to, to source covey to m. a. i do think we are in this phase of the pandemic now, where these questions about what can, how much can we go back to normal life? what are the things that we, you know, that we can do it? can we do them safely? is, is an important question and i've always been a little bit skeptical of, you know, risk mitigation being basically avoiding all risk. right? i mean, the question is, how do you stage an event like the like the beijing olympics, and how do you try to do it in the safest way possible. and i mean that the big question that i have really is, how long can a country keep the 0 over strategy up?
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and i think it's not completely clear at the moment because there are some questions about our micron. how much more transmissible is it really than delta? we don't really know that we know it's much better at infecting people who have some immunity, but that doesn't mean that the virus itself is more transmissible necessarily. and so, you know, i think what we've learned in this pandemic again and again, is that politicians policy makers need to be very flexible. they need to look at the data, they need to be able to, to navigate a constantly changing environment. and i think what you just said that china is going to hold on to this policy as long as possible. i think that in itself is a bit of a danger, because really, you want to be flexible. you want to be nimble. you want to act fast and also give up these policies when it becomes clear that they are causing more hurt than, than they are actually contributing to the public health in a country like china. and i think those are the big questions for 2022. what do you have to add professor quote to those are in terms of hard data information to the,
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to the questions that i could push him to just asking for the importance we don't, we don't know the data from china. i'm sure join us collecting data like crazy, but the public does know much about it. so a serial cove, it's obviously failed because on which one has arrived in china. so the smallest read of g like as little as possible until the lympics for sure. but even during this is a trying to admit that it has failed here. so certainly not, i mean the restrictions are massive and they, they try their best to keep it quiet and down as much as possible. but now unit, limbic many people come to china, there will be clusters within the d athletes group journalists. as we see with the handle european championship, no matter what measure you do. and germany i think has good had good measures and 13 for 5 years. and that is, that is not going to work. ok, we talked about it already. so let's take a closer look at china's 0 covey approach, which is under pressure to put it mildly. this is what
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china's 0 cov, it strategy looks like. even with just a few known corona virus cases, the government is imposing strict curfews for whole metropolises comprised of millions of people. it's an extreme lockdown should be effected, cities will be sealed off, and residents will only be allowed to leave their homes for daily cove tests and shopping. if that the policy is strict but effective. china claims to have the lowest infection rate in the world until now. their 1st omicron cases were reported in early january and authorities are deeply concerned because china, novak vaccine doesn't seem to offer much protection against the armor, cranberry and the winter olympics are just around the corner. which means that tens of thousands of foreign athletes, officials and journalists will soon be entering the country. they are supposed to enter a strict quarantine upon arrival,
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separating them from the rest of the population. but experts still wonder will there be a massive outbreak of the oma con variant in china? one of those experts is to be as coordinate, just want to come back to that question. do you think they can keep a lid on this? how concrete can you be about, but not for long. i think the only cron variance has shown to be so transmissible in other countries, and that will also happen in china. you can slow it down, but i don't think you can really story down. well, these are the most rig measures that we can think of right now, and i agree with like high coverage meant that, that it's, it's, it's hardly measurable that you can keep this for 4 months to really keep it down. it won't be possible. so at one point i expect to see arrays and cases in china go, what do we want to we know about or may cronum, what do we need to know? i think one thing that sometimes gets a little bit lost is we just saw it in the clip. erm. you know, that, that the vaccines don't seem to offer a lot of protection against all crohn,
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i think was the, the phrase, you really have to look closely at that. what, what that means is protection from infection. we do think that the, if you, all the vaccines that we have at the moment do of a significant protection from severe disease and from death. and that's really, really important because while the virus spreading like wildfire through china would still be a huge issue in terms of disruption to work in all of these things. the hope is that it wouldn't lead to the kind of wave of death that we've seen in other countries earlier. and so i think it is important to realize that, you know, we're talking a lot now about the potential risk for china in 2022. but they are in an enviable position in some ways. i mean, they have managed to whether this pandemic, a lot better than a lot of other countries have. they have avoided these big waves and whatever happens now, they are not looking at the kind of death wave that we've seen in spain and italy in the us in the u. k. and, but you need to be able to also shift from that strategy at some point because
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otherwise you can really be creating a lot of hurt in, in those moments where you're clinging on to a policy that maybe at that point isn't really now with, well, i mean, if you imagine that on the cross start spreading and the only answer that the government has is to lock down more and more places for longer and longer. and then those are those a huge side effects that your basic, you know, willing to, to, to have the public suffer in order to keep the virus from spreading. but at some point, of course, the risk of this wires spreading might actually be lower. it is the risk in terms of public health. the political risk is of course a different one. and that just like we're seeing in the u. k, at the moment with pers, johnson lifting all restrictions. i think, you know, whenever you look around the world, you have to look at the politics in these countries. you know, within the country to understand a little bit. why is certain decisions are being made. it's not just the scientific evidence, as we all know suji, what do you know? what can you tell us? i know it's quite, i know it's difficult,
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but can you tell us about how the year the chinese people are responding to all this uncertainty about what sort of knowledge they haven't no disposal, what, how the government to sort of working with somehow, whether the government's priorities to people over games, these are very difficult questions. i think in general, um, most chinese people do support the government's decision to keep a 0 coded strategy. and i think china has in accordance with its knowledge of its health system, it's set up. okay. that policies which will suit its health care system. and currently most hospitals in china, for example, in shanghai it's, we haven't even seen many cases of only con, but the hospital is already burdened with too many patients. and so the main priority currently of the 0 covet strategy is china knows that its
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hospitals nationwide will not have the capacity at the moment, ma'am, if her there corona virus were to have ways as we had here in europe. so the current works in the china is using simply won't work against the, against the new variance over and it, but it, but it has to work the chinese or the chinese government got a really big problem there. well, potentially, yes. so it's kind of push me said like, do we expect not that many severe cases, but if you have many people getting infected, then if the likelihood is lower that you get civil infected still, a lot of people will get really infected, vaccinated or not. so it's, it's a one has to stay flexible, really, when i sustain more, then what's the situation more dynamically and then act. so just just having one strategy for as long as possible is, is, is very difficult to communicate. and, and i also think that the suffering of the population in terms of public health
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consequences outside of the viral infection will be severe in china. how much of a threat is this to the credibility of she jing things, chinese leader? i think that her china can withhold, for example, if there's a an outbreak i think for one month of quarantine, ah, we can predict that china and their population will be able to deal with it for one month. but you know, if it carries on and the virus spreads and then we have entire cds and ports in lockdown of more than 6 months or leading up to 6 months. people will definitely get frustrated and people will lose their jobs. and companies are global supply chains will be hit. and i think her, of course, the she, j pink government also wants to keep people happy with the government. and they know that any thing beyond one month of lockdown,
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i will definitely get people very frustrated at to was the central government as a journalist, where do you, where do you see that situation leading? you go because of the problem with lock down, that the threat to the economy. you've got the public health for it has are going to be knitted together or how is it going to impact china or in a, in a, in a, in a, in a drastic way potentially. yeah, i mean, i do think that this year, at some point we are going to see a massive impact on china. whether it is because of, you know, the, the public health restrictions that are put in place in order to, to keep on a conference reading or because on the chrome spreads, i think at least in the future, when we look back, i feel like a lot will depend on how well china is preparing for plan b. i mean given the, the very clearest that only cron is going to spread. the question is, what are people doing? what does the government doing to prepare for that eventuality? what do we know there? i, i honestly couldn't say i,
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i haven't been following enough for what's being said in china. i think at the moment all that i'm hearing is still we are committed to the 0 coven policy. but i think it would be ludicrous if people weren't in the background. you know, gaming out. okay, what can we do if this really spreads? how do we keep the disruption low? how do we make sure hospitals are staffed? how do we make sure if there is the big influx of patients with severe disease? how do we deal with that? that is really what, what people are going to judge the chinese government, you know, actions in 2022 and i think and what, what do you think her to, to be as core to about what, what does this tell us about sort of other similar events in the, in the, in the future like bonus, like football matches in germany or the carnival in rio, or all these large scale events that are so important for humanity. well, i think we need to understand what is actually happening, collecting data meaningfully and not just are comparing cases to nothing. so i
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think we really need to be flexible. you can compare a threat v in one country and bring into another country that works. so we in germany, have to decide what is, what is our measure, where we say, ok, go how many infections or how many c, b infections after a soccer game, football game, we accept. so that's something we need to discuss. but like keeping everything away from the people for a long time, won't work. ok. the on the conference is spreading at a pretty much unprecedented rate at the same time though, people in some places, at least some countries, at least are again out enjoying packed bars and back streets. how does that work indeed, does it work? let's have a quick look. the oma called variant is giving researchers reasons to be both concerned and hopeful. they're worried because the virus is much more contagious than its predecessors. their hopeful because it also appears to be less severe by comparison. germany's leading biologist predicts that the disease will become
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a controllable, endemic rather than a prolonged pandemic. is an addition to fun. we already us back, or that we will reach this endemic state or virtually reach it by the end of the year, dr. doll, he says the prerequisite for this is vaccinating and boosting the elderly and other at risk communities. that's already the case in israel, where the government has lifted nearly all grown virus restrictions. despite an increase infection numbers, life on the streets appears to be getting back to normal. in spain, people wear masks voluntarily. large parades like this one, as well as restaurant visits are all possible without restrictions. just how dangerous is omicron? see that is the big question. i could push me to, i mean, we see people out on the streets in that reported israel under spain,
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for example. and here in germany the same time, my sense is that we were standing on the cusp of a possible route, you know, very large scale crisis in the next 2 or 3 weeks. that is, what we're being told is very important to, to kind of paint a very differentiated picture about what the risks are here we have in the last 2 years talked a lot about, you know, these catastrophic risks of lots of people dying. we have seen more than 100000 people die in germany. of course 19. that is not what we're seeing, that that is not what most scientists to worried about if we look at, at the next few months. most of the worry is that we still have a lot of vaccinated people in germany compared to spain for instance, compared to israel. so that means that we do have, you know, the risk of some people having severe disease and death. but the majority of people are vaccinated, they are protected from severe disease and death, but they might be sick. they might have to isolate
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a lot of people might have to quarantine because if it in context is already happening in your, in your circle here yesterday. so people are talking about that. yeah. now yes, it's very clear to me that, that we are at the beginning of this very, very steep rise of cases that we've seen in other places. because we had measures in place for delta that was delayed in germany. but we are now seeing the same kind of rise that we've seen in places like denmark or spain. so everybody's going to experience this in their circle. they're going to see a lot of people get sick and isolate, but it's not the same worries that we used to have. and i think that is very important. now, endemic doesn't come from the word end, right? endemic just means, this is a virus that is here to stay, but most people who get infected with it already have some kind of immune memory of having been exposed to the spike protein ideally through vaccine or through natural infection. and so the, the societal implications are different ones, but there are still societal implications. like we said, with china,
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if everybody is sick of work that disrupt supply chains in germany. if a lot of doctors out sick from the hospitals, you still have a problem with it. with having, having enough people there for all the other diseases that people have that aren't covered. and so we have to take this seriously. but we also have to realize that there is that this is a different level of worry i think, than what we were worried about the last 2 years. and that's thanks to the vaccines . and frankly, a, the, the biggest thing we can still do is to make sure that the people who haven't had a single shot of this vaccine get one that goes for germany. but it certainly also goes for 3000000000 people worldwide, who haven't received a single shot of the sexy to see how concerned do you personally. i personally, if i'm being very honest a, i have a family in china, elderly relatives, and i think personally, i feel more comfortable for some reason or whether it's rational or not, that they are in china with a 0 cove id policy at the moment. then if they were here in europe,
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and when i think about my relatives, they all come visit to you in europe. i'll say no is better not to come. also my other families in new zealand, which is also 0 covered strategy and i feel and level of comfort for whatever reason, you know that they are in a 0 cove id strategy country. but in saying that i have so much more freedom and i can travel in the summer and when the cases are down, i can come in here to the office. you know it, sir. so i have a level of freedom that they are not enjoying, for example, and i can still go abroad within europe and even other countries. so professor cook, what's the year, what was the the worst case scenario for germany in the next, in the next couple of months for you? if the worst case scenario is that we getting more severe a sickness than we think we are getting so that we something where we adding on the
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issue with the current and people are not able to work. and we're getting more and more patients in the hospital. so it's actually already starting that em physicians and nurses are not as severe as available before because of during current in order ticket on current in. so, so, and if this is increasing, then the question is, can we keep the system running and then severe cases come, which we do not expect to happen because of the vaccination because of what question explained. then we are running into real issue, but i don't expect that to happen. what can we learn from countries like israel and spain, where there's a definitely a different approach. it's always really difficult to compare countries. so in israel, the elderly population of vaccinated. so as a country the vaccination rate is lower than in germany, but the, the higher risk a high risk population, those are vaccinated. so i think that's an important consequence that we may think also to connect with her. only kron is an opportunity. that's a, that's
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a phrase that i've heard a couple of times. i see, i see you sort of looking so slightly bemused. an opportunity for what i mean. and i, you know, there's a still, but i did leave iran. amazing how often i have heard that phrasal very similar phrases in the last time. i think we've psychologically, it's understandable that i mean we have had 2 years of really bad news. and a lot of times with this virus, it felt like the worst case scenario came true. now our micron is falls a little bit outside of that scope because it is actually a from, or we know a little bit milder in the disease causes than say, delta not necessarily milder than the virus that evolved from which is important. we don't know what the next variant will be, but i mean, i think people focus a lot on the virus and they say on the chrome as an opportunity. but we are in the situation that we are in because we developed vaccines and record time. and we
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vaccinated a lot of people around the world in record time. that is why we're talking about transitioning to some kind of endemic state. it is not because this virus itself is somehow, you know, that harmless. it simply isn't. it's the fact that it is meeting a population that has a huge amount at this point of immunity. and in a lot of countries, that's vaccine induced immunity. and it's infection induced immunity. on top of that, which is why a country like the u. k probably has a very high immunity wall to a virus like this. the you mentioned earlier, germans are religious, christie on the roster. he's very influential here in the country. he says he believes we will get back to the kind of life we have before the pandemic. do you share that optimism? yes, of course. i don't think this pandemic, i mean, a pandemic always ends. the question is, how much death and destruction do you get along the way? and, you know, the vaccines were our way of reducing that, that burden. it doesn't necessarily cut the time short that it takes for,
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for the spend emmett to work its way into an endemic state, but it reduces the price that we pay for it. and that's why we want everybody to be vaccinated. and then the sooner we get to that stage, i think the sooner we do get back to normal life, i do think there are some things that will stay for a while longer. i do imagine that even next year or the year after, we might in winter have certain restrictions like wearing masks, things like that. but i also think that that is a burden that we can all easily you know, shoulder after the last years of restrictions that we've lived through. so g, how do you see the future here in germany for yourself or do you share that optimism? i think that i can say optimism as an opportunity for europe and the rest of the world means, i think not so much optimism for china and china actually economy grew in china in the, during the pandemic. and now it's declining in the last quarter. so i think while the world now is dealing with on a kron in an open way at china,
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might question it's 0 strategy. to leave it there would be talking about china and only chrome. i hope we've given you plenty of time to fall to who have to come back next time until then. bye bye, and choose a with
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