How did China recover without a vaccine?

 It's not a big secret that China handled and even defeated the epidemic at home before the pandemic became a huge concern abroad. How they did that is indeed no major secret: the most serious lockout possible. None of these "please wear a mask if you go outside" nonsense - people were only allowed out once in five days to get vital supplies at the height of the lockdown in Wuhan. If you did not wear a mask, you will be automatically pursued back home. Don't worry. For five days, you will live without rice. At one point, drones patrolled the sky searching for violators.

This is completely unfeasible in the West. The police department is not strong enough to carry that out, technical devices are not deployed, and they are also not constitutionally acceptable because it will not be accepted by the electorate anyway. In the next election, at best, a Western government that wanted to do what China did will be voted out of power and potentially get a vote of no confidence within a week or two. Privacy and limited government were taken seriously by westerners.
That's a bad idea in some situations, such as a worldwide pandemic with a lethal respiratory virus, because what you really need is an overbearing state with a protective device that can snoop around and do as it wants. It's not a reasonable solution (some figures place the deaths of Covid-19 in China second only to the preventable deaths caused by the lockdown), but it's less horrible than the handled trainwreck that we're seeing in Europe and elsewhere, and actually, there have been fewer deaths, so that is obvious. Deaths from Excess Covid-19 are just the price we pay to survive in a different, transparent society.

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