SARS: Cover-up and Aftermath

China’s mishandling and cover-up of the SARS crisis is well documented. But what’s less known is the fate of the forgotten SARS survivors, now suffering the horrific after-effects of the medical treatment they received. For the past ten years, they have been battling the Chinese government for their rights. It’s a fight that’s in many ways defining modern China.

As the first global epidemic of the 21st century: SARS swept the globe with light speed. It was one of the most terrifying public health crises in our time. Worried about the economic consequences of the outbreak, China quickly covered up the first cases and held back information.

The Health ministry devised several medical treatments to contain the outbreak, including the controversial use of steroids. At the time, there were warnings that the steroids were being misused, doses were too high and treatment periods too long. There were also concerns that the treatment’s consequences were not properly monitored.

Within a few months, SARS survivors started developing serious medical problems like bone disease or lung abnormalities. They tried to gain access to their medical records only to find that their records had already become a state secret. Today, many of the survivors are disabled. For the past decade, they’ve been battling the state for compensation and disability support – only to find themselves on government black lists. As one survivors says: “They cheated us during the SARS outbreak. They continued deceiving us after on the after-effects. They continue cheating us when we petition.”

We follow five survivors, fighting for their rights.


  • Year: 2013
  • Duration: 52 mins
  • Production:
  • Director: Diana Dai
  • Available Versions: ENG
  • Country of production: Canada

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