January 26, 2022

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Fit And Go Forward

Opinion | The election is over. Can we finally blame China for the pandemic?

The strategy worked. The Fox News Voter Analysis found that 41 percent of Americans who cast ballots in the 2020 election said the pandemic was the most important issue facing the country and that 73 percent of them voted for Biden. Without the pandemic, Biden arguably would not be president-elect today.

But we all know that, notwithstanding the flaws in Trump’s pandemic response, he is not responsible for the global spread of covid-19. China is.

Chinese officials knew in December that the SARS-CoV-2 virus was capable of human-to-human transmission because medical personnel were getting sick, but as late as Jan. 15, the head of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention assured the world that “the risk of human-to-human transmission is low.” If the regime had taken action as soon as human-to-human transmission was detected, it might have prevented a worldwide pandemic. Instead, Chinese officials deliberately covered up the outbreak, punished doctors who tried to warn the public, intentionally lied to the world about the danger the virus posed, and proactively impeded the U.S. and international response.

It is the Chinese regime’s lies and incompetence that are responsible for the most devastating and costly pandemic in American history. Writing in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), Harvard economists David M. Cutler and Lawrence H. Summers recently calculated the costs to the U.S. economy in terms of mortality, morbidity, mental health conditions, lost income and the economic effects of shorter and less healthy lives. They concluded the “estimated cumulative financial costs of the COVID-19 pandemic related to the lost output and health reduction … is estimated at more than $16 trillion, or approximately 90% of the annual gross domestic product of the US,” adding that “for a family of 4, the estimated loss would be nearly $200,000.”

And it might be a conservative estimate, because it does not account for other long-term costs, such as the impact of school closings on the next generation of children. As The Post reported this week, the learning losses of the pandemic might produce a “lost generation of students.” One study calculated the cost of these learning losses at $14.2 trillion in lost income and productivity over the lifetime of affected students — costs borne primarily by poor, minority and disadvantaged students — and warned that “these economic losses would grow if schools are unable to restart quickly.”

To put these figures in context, World War II cost $4.1 trillion in today’s dollars, while the costs of all the wars since the 9/11 attacks total $6.4 trillion. No foreign adversary has ever inflicted such damage on the United States in its history. The Chinese communist regime unleashed a biological weapon on our country. Unlike Pearl Harbor or 9/11, it was not an intentional attack, but it also was not benign. China did not suffer a viral outbreak beyond its control; it failed to control a viral outbreak. Chinese officials tried to cover up that failure and intentionally impeded the efforts of other nations to control the virus, with disastrous consequences for the American people.

Now China is trying to deflect responsibility. The New York Times reports that “facing global anger over their initial mishandling of the outbreak, the Chinese authorities are now trying to rewrite the narrative of the pandemic by pushing theories that the virus originated outside China.” A paper from the Chinese Academy of Sciences recently declared that “Wuhan is not the place where human-to-human SARS-CoV-2 transmission first happened.” State media falsely suggests that Italy or India might be to blame and that the virus arrived in China in packaged food. And the regime has used its massive influence with the World Health Organization to put Chinese scientists in charge of parts of the WHO investigation into how the virus jumped from animals to humans.

Will the Biden administration let the Chinese regime get away with this? Does China get a free pass because Trump blamed Beijing — and we must always reflexively do the opposite of whatever Trump does? Or does Trump’s defeat mean that we can all now finally agree to hold the Chinese regime to account for the devastation it has wreaked on this country?

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