第二种生命价值观的特点是聚焦整体，牺牲一部分人的生命，换取绝大多数人的生命安全。这在新冠肺炎疫情应对中就表现为群体免疫策略。群体免疫（herd immunity，community immunity）是指一个社会中相当大比例的获得免疫力，就可以使其他没有免疫力的人因此受到保护而不被传染。拥有抵抗力的人的比例越高，易感个体与受感染个体间接触的可能性便越小。英国首席科学顾问帕特里克·瓦朗斯表示，约60％的英国人感染新冠病毒，就可以使英国形成“群体免疫”。在形成群体免疫过程中，会导致大量感染和相当多的死亡。通过有效的医疗救治，可以将病亡率控制在可接受范围内。这种疫情应对策略的典型代表是瑞典。疫情发生以来，瑞典采取不封城、不强制社交隔离措施和不进行大规模检测的抗疫政策，基本维持了国内社会经济活动。政府要求易感人群，如老年人和有基础疾病的人，自愿居家隔离。轻症患者在家休息，自动康复。重症患者送医院治疗，全力救治。随着疫情发展，瑞典政府发布了社交距离指南，不鼓励不必要的旅行，建议70岁以上的人待在家里，并且禁止50人以上的集会，禁止探访养老院，但学校、餐馆和购物中心依然开放。瑞典的群体免疫策略的主要代价是死亡病例较多。
Differences in Life Values in COVID-19 Epidemic Prevention and Control
Li Yunlong, Professor of the Party School of
the Central Committee of CPC (National Academy of Governance)
Life is the foundation of human society and the carrier of civilization. Since time immemorial, humankind attached great importance to reproduction and protection of life. Cherishing life and safeguarding health are the shared values of all humankind. Ancient China had the tradition to “respect life” and “dignify life”, considering “life the most precious” and “longevity the best” in the universe. Mencius believed that it was human nature to protect life. Once a man saw a child was going to fall into the well, he must feel pity for him and pull him back immediately. During the Renaissance in Europe, humanists extolled human values and believed humankind was the center of everything, as well as the ultimate source of all values. Brunetto Latini once said, “The universe is created for humankind, and humans are created for themselves.” Everything takes on significance because of humans and humankind define the values of other beings. As the supreme species, man overrides any other creatures in dignity and values. Later, European enlightenment thinkers went a step further, believing that human is the supreme end and cannot just be treated as means. Everyone has the right to protect life, and the right to life is the primary human right. The Declaration of Independence regarded the right to life as a nontransferable right endowed by God. Values that cherished life were widely recognized by the international community after World War II and the right to life became the basic human right. Article 3 of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights prescribes, “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.” Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights prescribes, “Every human being has the inherent right to life. This right shall be protected by law. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life.” Article 12 of International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights prescribes, “The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.” These are more positive stipulations about the right to life. Nowadays, in the 21st century, it is undoubtedly the common value of all nations and peoples to value and protect life and safeguard health.
However, when we confront the catastrophic COVID-19 epidemic, there is still a big difference in the life values of nations on how to protect the right to life and the right to health. Some countries insist that life comes first and save every life at any cost. Some countries attach great importance to the mass and sacrifice some lives for most people. And some other countries pay more attention to the cost to save lives and emphasize keeping the balance between life-saving and economic cost. The differences in these values are fully reflected in the coping strategies of all nations.
The characteristics of the first value are to insist that life comes first and save every life with all efforts. Such a life value is reflected in the countermeasures of quarantine and life-saving with all efforts. The danger of an epidemic is its infectious nature. It is the common sense of epidemic prevention that quarantine is the way to stop virus transmission when the pathogen cannot be eliminated. Theoretically, as long as everyone keeps away from others, the epidemic will be over. However, it’s hard to realize in reality since complete quarantine means the standstill of social and economic activities, a high cost and probably more deaths due to hunger, malnutrition and lack of medical care and medicines. Therefore, it’s the most practical policy to quarantine and save lives with the most significant endeavor. This is the way to fight against the epidemic in many countries, especially East Asian countries. China is the typical representative of them. After the outbreak of the COVID-19 epidemic, the Chinese government made a significant decision of Wuhan lockdown and strict outbound travel restriction on Hubei Province with a focus on controlling the source of infection and cutting off the transmission route. Many provinces and cities initiated Class I Public Health Emergency Response Mechanism to stop transportation in lots of regions, control movement of persons, and postpone work resumption after the Spring Festival. The block-down on roads and lockdown of villages and communities led to a “halt” nationwide and it seemed that Chinese society in high-speed running was suddenly paused by pressing a stop button. China paid a heavy price to save lives. China's GDP increased by -6.8% in the first quarter of 2020, the first negative growth since the reform and opening up.
The second life value focuses on the mass and sacrifices the lives of some people to safeguard the majority of them. This is reflected in the herd immunity strategy in fighting against the COVID-19 epidemic. Herd immunity means that a large part of the population is immune to protect those not immune from infection. The more significant the number of resistant people, the less possibility of contact between individuals vulnerable to infections and infected people. British Chief Scientific Advisor Patrick Vallance said “herd immunity” can be built up as long as about 60% British people caught the disease. In building up the herd immunity, a lot of people will be infected and dead. Through effective medical treatment and care, the mortality rate can be controlled within an acceptable range. The typical country adopting this countermeasure is Sweden. Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 epidemic, Sweden took the policy of no lockdown, no mandatory quarantine and no mass testing to fight the virus and basically maintained domestic social and economic activities. The government required people vulnerable to infections such as elders and persons with underlying diseases to conduct voluntary home quarantine and asked patients with mild symptoms to stay at home for recovery. Patients with severe symptoms were sent to hospitals for medical care and treatment with all efforts. With the spreading of the COVID-19 epidemic, the Swedish government published a guide of social distance, discouraged unnecessary travels, advised people over 70 years old to stay at home, prohibited gatherings of over 50 people and visits to the nursing home. However, schools, restaurants and shopping malls are still open. The price for herd immunity policy in Sweden is lots of deaths.
The third life value feature is paying attention to the economic cost of life protection and pursuing the balance between saving lives and maintaining normal commercial activities. Such a view believes that there is a cost for life protection. Although the policy of less economic activities to inhibit the virus may slow it down in spreading and reduce the mortality rate, it also costs heavily in the economy. While strict quarantine policy and pause of economic activities may reduce deaths caused by infections, they may also increase deaths caused by hunger and poverty. Therefore, it’s impossible to fight against the COVID-19 epidemic at any cost, price, or standstill of social and economic activities. Instead, the government should adopt proper countermeasures to control the financial loss at a reasonable level. The United States is the typical representative with such an approach. In the early period of the epidemic, due to worries about the negative impact on the economy and the stock market, the American government was reluctant to adopt strict quarantine and lockdown, which led to the quick spreading of the epidemic. When the quarantine had to be carried out in the outbreak and there were over 20,000 new confirmed cases every day, the American government insisted on promoting work resumption. As early as late March, Trump asked people back to work repeatedly. He twittered, “Our people want to return to work.” “THE CURE CANNOT BE WORSE (by far) THAN THE PROBLEM!” Now, even the COVID-19 epidemic keeps spreading quickly but most states have lifted the restrictions and the outlook is not promising. However, Trump is determined to open up. He said there would be no lockdown any more even the epidemic came back in the second wave.
Countermeasures, under the guidance of three life values, yielded three distinct results. Fight against the COVID-19 epidemic in China with the guideline that life comes first is entirely successful and the outbreak is generally under control. Lift of restrictions on Wuhan on April 7 marked an interim achievement of China’s fight against the disease. Up to May 21, China reported 82,971 confirmed cases and 4,634 deaths. In the light of infection or death numbers, China’s countermeasures are effective. These countermeasures are even better considering China started the fight knowing nothing at all. Though Sweden basically maintains the normal functioning of its society and economy with herd immunity policy, it fails to build up herd immunity even with many lives sacrificed and infections and deaths keep on increasing. By May 22, the total number of deaths in Sweden is 3,871, and 387 deaths per million people are over ten times higher than the neighboring Nordic countries with strict quarantine, and its mortality rate per million people is even higher than the United States, the most affected nation. The United States holds an opportunistic attitude towards the epidemic, pays much more attention to life-saving costs while calculating the cost of countermeasures, and wavers between lockdown and no restriction, resulting in the severe standstill of economy and society at a heavy price of many lives. Since the outbreak of Novel Coronavirus Pneumonia, the unemployment rate in the US increased to 17.2%, with nearly 40 million jobless persons. By May 22, the total number of deaths due to Novel Coronavirus Pneumonia in the US is 94,566, and there are over 300 deaths per million people. The countermeasures of the US are the worst.