The day before, during an emergency committee meeting, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson had bluntly admitted that “many more families are going to lose loved ones before their time,” and defended the U.K.’s comparatively limited actions taken against COVID-19.Vallance’s and Johnson’s comments have spread like wildfire on social media in China, where extreme measures such as extended holidays, compulsory quarantines, and citywide lockdowns have been in place for close to two months. While they’ve succeeded in curtailing the spread of the virus, they’ve also crippled small businesses, entire industries, and the overall economy.
On China’s dominant social app WeChat, articles and opinion pieces with headlines such as “UK officially admits: To achieve herd immunity, tens of millions must be infected” have been widely shared. A massive thread discussing Britain’s position on Q&A site Zhihu has received close to 10,000 answers — some filled with statistics and detailed mathematical formulas — and over 35 million views. Netizens are both shocked and amused by what they see as a brave yet foolish strategy for tackling the coronavirus, particularly in contrast with China’s heavy-handed but largely effective approach. “After successfully leaving Europe, they now want to leave the world,” read one widely shared quip.