Photo Credit: Nicoco Chan

The Cost of a Pandemic

Fighting Covid-19 has brought big losses and big profits for different sections of Chinese society

The omicron variant is challenging China’s “dynamic zero” Covid policy in ways unseen since the earliest days of the pandemic in 2020.

Areas worst affected by the latest wave of infections (which amounted to over 8,000 cases nationwide yesterday), such as Jilin province and the city of Shanghai, are seeing severe disruption to public services, medical care, and food supplies. But compared to total lockdown policies enforced in parts of China over the last two years of the pandemic, local governments are now varying their responses: Shanghai through alternating lockdowns in different parts of the city to ensure minimal disruption to the economy.

The pandemic has impacted almost every aspect of life in the country: Schools have taken up online teaching, medical facilities have attempted to treat patients at a distance, takeout delivery drivers have kept residents fed, factories have shut down, and Covid tests and vaccinations have become facts of life.

But what exactly have been the economic and social costs of the pandemic so far? TWOC took a look at a number of industries and fields to see how Covid-19 has created both winners and losers:

Infographics by Nicoco Chan

Hurun China Rich List, 2021
“Jilin Province: Fruit and Vegetable Prices Rise Slightly, Rice, Wheat, and Oil Reserves Can Last for More than 15 Days (吉林省:果蔬价格小幅上涨,米面油储备可保供15天以上),” The Paper, March 23, 2022
“NHC: To cover the acceptable online health care within medical insurance funds (国家卫健委:对符合要求的互联网诊疗纳入到了医保基金的支付范围),” Beijing Business Today, March 22, 2020
“Report: The Growth Rate of Middle-Aged and Elderly Netizens is the Fastest, and More Than 1/5 of Netizens have Experience Information Leaks (报告:中老年网民规模增速最快,超1/5网民曾遭遇信息泄露),” Southern Metropolis Daily, August 27, 2021
“Supermarket Extortion Again. In a Shandong College, a 9-yuan Packet of Instant Noodles Cost a Student Four Times Higher than before Due to the School Lockdown (又见超市坐地起价,山东一高校9元方便面翻了近4倍,只因学校封校了),”, March 14, 2022
“The number of China's online hospitals reached over 1,600 (我国互联网医院已达1600多家),”, August 24, 2021
“‘The Price of a Bag of Flour Rose by about 20 Yuan.’ The Price of Grain and Oil and Grain Products Grow Together(“一袋面粉涨了近20元”粮油与粮食制品价格同步上涨),” Elephant News, March 15, 2022.
The Market Value of China's Food Delivery Industry from 2016 to 2022 (2016-2022年中国外卖餐饮行业市场规模统计), Chinese Business Research Institute, March 2022
“What will happen to the manufacturing industry, after young people turned to the express delivery industry (年轻人都去送外卖了,我国制造业怎么办?),” CCTV News, April 1, 2021
Yiming Peng, Peipei Wu, Amina T. Schartup, and Yanxu Zhang. “Plastic waste release caused by COVID-19 and its fate in the global ocean,”
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 18, No. 147, (November 8, 2021)
2021 China Online Live Music Industry Research Report (2021年中国线上现场音乐演出产业研究报告), iResearch, March 25, 2022.
2021 Game Annual Report (2021游戏年度报告首发), Gamma Data, December 16, 2021.
2021 Statistical Report on National and Economic Development (2021年国民经济和社会发展统计公报), National Bureau of Statistics, February 28, 2022.


TWOC‘s editors are a bilingual, international team that is always on the lookout for original and human-centered stories to share with our readers. We are dedicated to accuracy, objectivity, and looking at each of China's stories through the eyes of its participants. Get in touch through our About Us page if you have a story to pitch!

Related Articles