China Under Covid Documentary


Directed by Ai WeiWei

Film Review

This documentary was secretly filmed in Wuhan province during the world’s first Covid lockdown between January 23 and April 8 2020. Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei, who directed the film from Cambridge (UK), relied on amateur filmmakers who clandestinely forwarded their footage to Weiwei via the Internet. The scarcity of Western footage of the ICU treatment makes the film all the more remarkable.

Owing to the absence of narration, the film is sometimes a little hard to follow. Nevertheless viewers get a good picture of the heavy police presence on the streets, the construction of emergency hospitals to increase treatment capacity, the busloads of doctors sent to Wuhan to staff ICUs and isolation wards and elaborate (sometimes comical) personal protective gear procedures.

Unlike the PPE I’ve seen in New Zealand (limited to full length gowns), Chinese doctors wear two full body coveralls.* Although the inside coverall excludes the feet and head, the outer garment covers their shoes, hair, forehead and cheeks to overlap their mask. They then cover their mask with a plastic face shield. Doctors are video monitored to ensure they wash their hands and don and remove their coveralls and gloves in the correct order.

The film follows a construction worker who tries to return to his home province once the emergency hospital is completed. Unsuccessful in obtaining a travel pass, he’s forced to stay in an emergency shelter.

Below is a link to a DW interview with Ai Weiwei describing the filming process:

*It’s my understanding that when the Sars-CoV-2 virus first appeared in December 2019, both Chinese and western scientists greatly overestimated its lethality. It was only in August-September 2020 epidemiologists studying the mortality data a realized the death rate was only 0.1% in people under 70 (comparable to influenza mortality).

The film can be viewed free on Kanopy.

The 1918 Influenza Pandemic (Official US Government Version)

We Heard the Bells: The Influenza of 1918

US Department of Health and Human Services (2010)

Film Review

I began watching this film believing it was a historical account of the 1918 influenza epidemic. It’s not. It’s actually a 10-year old US government propaganda film promoting flu vaccination. It’s currently being recycled in honor of COVID-19.

The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly ratcheted up the media hype over annual flu vaccination, which had never made much sense to me. Even the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) acknowledge the 2020 flu vaccine is only 45% effective (only 45% of people who receive it will be protected against influenza).

Ironically they call 2020 a good year – most years flu vaccine is even less effective

In people over 65 (the under most pressure to be vaccinated), the 2018-19 vaccine was only 16% effective.

In my view the vaccine’s low effectiveness needs to be weighed against potential side effects, which a growing body of research suggests can be considerable.

Recent studies suggest that flu vaccination can increase the risk of other viral (including coronavirus infections) in some patients.

Also that repeated flu vaccination can reduce the body’s ability to fight off influenza. SeeĀ  NIH study, Canadian study, and Vaccine Failures (summary).

On a positive note, the first half of the film contains some great archival footage of survivors of the 1918 pandemic. I found it interesting that most 1918 victims died of pneumonia caused by secondary bacterial infections (rather than viral pneumonia caused by influenza virus). Doctors reported a typical pattern in which patients appeared to totally recover after 5-7 days, when weakened defenses caused them to succumb to new bacterial or fungal infections.

A number of clinicians are reporting a similar pattern with COVID-19, with patients appearing to recover, and then suddenly worsening and dying. Prior to the development of antibiotics during World War II, there was no way to treat these secondary infections. However at present most are treatable with antibiotics and anti-fungal agents. A recent Lancet paper summarizing 99 cases of COVID-19 treated in Wuhan China in December 2019 indicates all patients were tested and treated for bacterial and fungal secondary infections.

Given the 24/7 coverage of the coronavirus pandemic, I find it a little disappointing the mainstream media offers so little information regarding treatment.

The 1918 influenza pandemic reportedly killed 50 million people globally and 675,000 in the US. In contrast to COVID-19, in 1918 the vast majority of deaths were in young adults.