It was fear that shut down the world. The images coming out of Wuhan — people collapsed on pavements, staff in hazmat suits shuffling through panic-filled hospital wards — were chilling. When it spread to Italy and numbers started becoming available, the potential spread of the pandemic seemed infinite and horrifying.

Most frightening of all was the Chinese response. When a vast moneymaking machine that regularly tortures its own people lunges for the factory kill-switch to safeguard human life, it’s fair to assume it has seen something unprecedented and utterly nightmarish on the horizon. In other words, in late March a hard lockdown wasn’t just a good response, it was the only response...

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