Update & Quick Thoughts On Preparation

First, while keeping in mind that both WHO, the CDC, and other agencies are political agencies first and foremost, here is an interesting interview (with some truly great weasel-wording) about the virus. There is a lot of good info in here, even with having to do some reading between the lines.

Second, I do believe in preparation. Unless something changes rather dramatically, I expect the major impact will be economic rather than in terms of public health. Longer post needed on that, but here is an article that lays out some of what has been discussed here before about the folly that was our former China policy — an idiocy that gave them control over several critical resources.

It’s not just medical and medicines, it’s automotive parts, it’s about the precursor components for a host of other products, it’s the things we often take for granted until they are gone. Ladies, do you know where your feminine hygiene products come from, or the components for them? Men, do you know where your razors come from? In both cases, some do and some don’t.

If you are going to prepare for this to hit the U.S., the first thing I would do is talk to my financial advisor on planning for both short- and long-term hits to the economy. Right now, I don’t think anyone has truly gamed out the cascade effect that is about to hit. It may be short and not bad (for us), or it could be worse and longer. For other countries, it won’t be recession but depression.

Second thing I would do is make sure I have as deep a supply of medicines, supplements, and basic supplies as I can. Check with your pharmacist: which of your medicines (if not all) are dependent on China in whole or in part? Get 90-day supplies if you can, and encourage your pharmacy to keep them in stock ahead of demand. It’s what I did a few weeks ago, now working on stocking up on OTCs and supplements.

Third, look at what other supplies you get that may be dependent in whole or in part on China. Me, I keep a few months supply of razor blades on hand (esp. after dumping Gillette and the other expense brands), but I plan to up that to a full year. I have a several month stock of toilet tissue, but even though it’s not linked to China (as far as I know) I plan to add more (see the story on the great toilet paper robbery in Hong Kong). Thinking about a new phone? Might want to do it now. Oh, and as with toilet tissue, boost your stock of feminine hygiene products.

Fourth, I have increased my ready food reserve. Since what I’m adding are things I already use, I can add it into regular use if not needed or things reach expiration date. The strategic coffee and hot sauce reserves are being upped a bit, and I’m slowly making sure I have water, the capability to store additional water, and other basics beyond my normal 3-5 day reserve.

Finally, and it is a finally, I have masks. I’ve always had some around given my allergies, and I use them for yard work, woodworking, metalworking, and other projects. Masks are currently my lowest priority here in the U.S. I have some (at lest one pack put up in a very good safe place, call if you know where it is) and while I may add a few more, the items above are a higher priority than the masks. Again, as I’ve stated before, I recommend the R95 masks as they have far more day-to-day utility and emergency use than just the N95.

Want to avoid catching COVID19 here in the U.S.? Wash your flippin hands frequently, then follow with hand sanitizer, use hand sanitizer liberally when you can’t wash. Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze, and stay away from those who don’t. Also, keep your bugger hooks out of/away from your eyes, nose, and mouth. In other words, standard flu protocols.

More later, I hope. Going to be a long day at work. Be safe, Be prepared, and keep an eye out.

Also, hat tip to Instapundit for the two articles linked.

Other COVID19/COVID-19/2019-nCoV articles:

Expansion On A Theme

Well Maybe I Was Wrong

Some Quick Thoughts On Coronavirus 2019-nCoV

Why Should You Be Prepared?

Keeping Alert

Coronavirus And Practical Preparedness

Expansions On A Theme, A Mental Exercise In The Hypothetical

In the post that went up earlier today, I added an update that briefly explored the idea that the virus was indeed a bioweapon. That is something that deserves a fuller treatment than was possible this morning.

I’ve argued that the R value and the death rate are too low for a WMD bioweapon. That is based off severely incomplete (and false) information from the Chinese government plus what little has been observed in patients outside of China. There appears to be a trend towards COVID19 having a R3 level, but again the data is incomplete and it will still be several weeks before we can develop better data.

But, there are two cases where the spread rate and death rate could actually be the sign of a bioweapon. But first, some background.

A couple of decades ago, there was an effort to develop a series of weapons that could be used to temporarily disable enemy troops rather than kill them. This non-lethal force initiative had some very good ideas and looked at a number of systems that could disrupt, disorient, and disable both humans and mechanical devices. This led to a some serious thought, and some re-adjustment in terms of how a number of parties came to view weapons/systems development. NOTE: I am not saying anything now comes from this, but that knowledge of the effort is a necessary link in the chain.

If memory serves (and it may not) there were also some other programs by various parties to develop weapons that were not necessarily world-enders or otherwise function as weapons of mass destruction. Rather, they were designed to incapacitate an enemy without totally destroying them.

The key point here is that there was some serious examination of finding weapons that would either not kill at all or not kill everyone, but would make it impossible for an enemy to fight/resist. It was and is a radical change of mindset from Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) and the idea of wiping entire populations off the planet.

For a MAD bioweapon, you would be looking at something highly contagious and with as high a death-rate as possible. You would also want it to be something your own side (and friends) could be vaccinated against. Also, in a perfect world, you would want it to spread easily and fast before symptoms appeared.

Typical development would start with something promising, work through a number of stages where it is “improved” over time, then result in the production of a final product. The number of intermediate stages would vary based on technology, refinements, and success/failure in testing.

Now, with a change in mindset from wiping everyone out to more controlled damage, it raises a possibility. And, yes, the U.S. has said any chemical or biological attack is the use of a WMD and would be treated as such. Yet, under the previous administration, there were reports of chemical and biological attacks by Syria against rebels (and others) that were not dealt with as promised. That was noted by many parties.

Now, there are two possibilities for a bioweapon that is either not very transmissible or potentially as transmissible as the flu and has a solid but not huge death rate. One comes from efforts to develop a WMD weapon, the other from a more targeted economic attack.

The first is that what we see spreading is an intermediate-stage WMD bioweapon that was accidentally released. Being intermediate-stage it does not have the transmission rate or death rate that an end-product weapon would have. It could even be a fizzle: a project that looked promising but didn’t deliver what the developers wanted to get.

The second is that what we have is the accidental release of a bioweapon being developed for targeted economic attack. The weapon itself has a spread rate and a death rate that require it to be taken seriously by public health officials and other government agencies where released. It can’t just be ridden out like the flu, but takes quarantines, active treatment, isolation, and suspension of normal work and related activities. It would be devastating to a national economy and tie up quite a bit of total national resources (food, medicine, etc.). In short, pretty much what we are seeing happen in China right now.

In both cases, the accidental release means there are no vaccines yet developed for the weapon. Which means the disease has run rampant since there was considerable delay in effective reaction to the virus.

Again, this is simply a mental exercise. Does it tie in with some of the evidence? Yes. But, there are a number of areas where it does not/may not match. The two big labs in Wuhan both have a history of protocol problems/breaches. So, the theories are not improbable; but, that does not mean they are yet probable based on current data.

They are, in my opinion, mental exercises that should be held up to the data along with other theories to see what pans out.

I also want to thank Alberto De La Cruz of the excellent Babalu Blog for letting me bounce some things off him today. His comments were most helpful, as always.

Now, a challenge to the reader: shoot holes in these mental exercises. Or, if you prefer, show where they correlate to actual data.

For now, I remain neutral on if COVID19 is man-made. While there are two scientific papers claiming to show that it is, there is no peer-review and frankly the peers that understand things on the levels being discussed seem to be divided on the issue. Until more is known, there simply is insufficient data for me to make a useful and informed decision about it.

Other COVID19/COVID-19/2019-nCoV articles:

Well Maybe I Was Wrong

Some Quick Thoughts On Coronavirus 2019-nCoV

Why Should You Be Prepared?

Keeping Alert

Coronavirus And Practical Preparedness

Well, Maybe I Was Wrong

Edited to add an interesting possibility at the end

It’s early yet, but in last Friday’s post on 2019-nCoV/COVID-19 I had my doubts about the virus coming from either the BSL-4 National Bio-Safety Laboratory or the Wuhan Institute of Virology. As I noted then, I remain agnostic on the first paper suggesting that it was engineered and still feel that the response would have been different had it been a leak of a bioweapon.

That said, there is a new scientific study and additional analysis that would appear to support both the original paper and the theory that the virus is bioengineered. Is it proof positive? No, not even close. It is additional data, and until other studies take place — and the White House has directed that research into the origin be a priority — we simply have some more data.

I maintain that if it were a bioweapon, it was not an end-stage product. We would be seeing many more dead and a higher infection rate if it were an end-stage product. That said, there is reason to believe it is more infectious than previously reported and good reason to believe that the death toll is much higher than the Chinese government has admitted.

Inside China, by all reports, the situation remains very bad. Outside China, provided it does not spread into Africa (where it could form a natural reservoir as has happened in China), there will be more cases but if quarantine and proper procedures are followed, it will remain an epidemic but not become a pandemic. I will caveat that by saying that this is based on what we know at this time, and given how little we truly know about it so far there is room for error.

Outside of China, the largest impacts will be economic and non-virus medical. Again, keep in mind that China provides quite a bit of the medicines in the world, as well as a large amount of the precursor materials for medicines, vitamins, etc. They also provide a great deal of disposable medical equipment, including masks.

So, where do we stand this morning? Per the interactive graphic we have the following:

Epidemic: Yes

Pandemic: No

Total cases as of 0545 Eastern: 71,810

Total cases in mainland China: 70,553

Total Deaths: 1775

Total Recoveries: 11,258

Alert Status: Sit Up

Best way for personal prevention outside of China? Wash your flippin hands frequently, then follow with hand sanitizer, use hand sanitizer liberally when you can’t wash; cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze; and, keep your bugger hooks out of your eyes and nose. In other words, standard flu protocols.

Hat Tips to Rod Dreher and Instapundit/Ed Driscoll.

UPDATE 1: It occurred to me a few minutes ago that the belief that this is not a bioweapon because both the R value and death rate are too low could be very sadly mistaken. About 20 years ago, there was a lot of work on forms of non-lethal/non-world-ending weapons. And, yes, there has been a lot of speculation and probably even efforts over the years to develop chemical and/or biological weapons that would incapacitate a population for a period of time. During that period, of course, actions could be taken such as invasion, disarming, etc.

Suppose that COVID19/COVID-19/2019-nCoV was not intended as a weapon of mass destruction, but as an economic weapon? Release it into a target area and the spread as well as the deaths would have a severe economic impact (for China, it may well be crippling) but not totally destroy the target population. In that case, the R3 that seems to be emerging makes more sense from a weapons perspective. Purely food for thought, and to keep in mind as we start to get real and accurate data on the disease.

Other COVID19/COVID-19/2019-nCoV articles:

Expansion On A Theme

Well Maybe I Was Wrong

Some Quick Thoughts On Coronavirus 2019-nCoV

Why Should You Be Prepared?

Keeping Alert

Coronavirus And Practical Preparedness

Some Quick Thoughts On Coronavirus 2019-nCoV

I plan to do a longer review of things soon, but this morning there are a couple of things I want to touch on very quickly.

First, a few days ago, I provided a link to a paper which claimed the virus is man-made. As there are two labs in Wuhan that experts believe have been/are involved in bioweapons research, there has been a lot of uninformed (with a small amount of informed) debate on the subject.

As for the paper itself, I remain agnostic as the levels of microbiology involved are well outside my area of expertise. I will state that if this were a finished bioweapon that leaked, we would be seeing a huge difference in spread, modes of infection, and fatalities. So, not a true bioweapon.

In getting to bioweapons, however, there are several (sometimes quite a few) stages of development. You get the basics of what you want then start refining. Is it possible that what we see could be one of those middle steps that got out? It is a possibility, but for right now I’m discounting that as well. Though I do think there’s a great novel to be written on this topic.

One of areas that makes me doubt it was an accidental release of some kind is the official response to the incident. It is a given that the Chinese government has lied from the start. It is also a given that the cover-up started at lower levels before going to the very top.

In that wonderful form of governance that is communism, particularly Chinese communism, one does not make waves unless they are the right and expected waves showing competence with and adherence to doctrine and policy. I’m willing to bet that even if doctors and public health officials had gone to local/regional leaders right at the start that they were ignored or told to treat but deny. Failure to protect the State and the Great Leader at best results in the gulag, and more likely either being shot or having your organs harvested while still alive.

The leadership at almost every level would be devoted to cover-up and denial. Keep the bad news from going higher, take ineffective steps designed more to cover asses than effective treatment/prevention. By the time the lid blew off, things were more than a bit out of control. At this point, the head of the government has to deny, mitigate, and pretend that things are not as bad as they are lest his control slip. He has cracked down, and the people are fighting back against that — and it is a good thing to see.

The thing is, I would expect a different type of denial/cover-up response were this a leak from a bioweapons lab of some mid-range effort. So far, all I’ve seen is a fairly typical bureaucratic effort. Had it been a release, I would have expected to see the top leadership involved sooner, since the local party bosses would have the head of the lab to toss under the bus.

In my last real update, I mentioned that my personal Defcon on this was between concerned and worried. Well, that really works out to being between Sit Up and Really?!? At this point, I think we are going to see a lot more cases in the U.S., though I don’t think we will get the death totals/percentage of China.

I strongly suspect the economic impact and the impact on normal life will be far greater. When I say “impact on normal life” what I mean is the amount of products that come from China or those where key components come from China who’s loss will be profoundly felt. While the bulk of this are disposable medical materials, drugs, and vitamins there are many other areas that will be hit as well. Given that others have been publicly sounding the alarm for a while, perhaps we shall see both an immediate reaction and some long-overdue discussion on having one of our greatest foes responsible for production of many critical supplies including medicines.

More to come, for now I must run. May you have a good day and a great weekend.

Other COVID19/COVID-19/2019-nCoV articles:

Expansion On A Theme

Well Maybe I Was Wrong

Some Quick Thoughts On Coronavirus 2019-nCoV

Why Should You Be Prepared?

Keeping Alert

Coronavirus And Practical Preparedness

Three Years, And Still No Justice

Listen to this voice. Listen Again. 

It has been three years, and this POS still is at large. Justice would be him having a short drop and a long dance, but simply finding him and having him face charges would be a good start. This thing does not deserve sanctuary or any other consideration — nor does anyone who conceals him.

Remember Abby and Libby. Remember and honor the courage and ingenuity that has given us what clues we have, including that recording above.

I have not forgotten. I will not forget.

There is still justice to be done. Spread the word, and leave the POS who attacked and murdered these two girls no place to hide.

Edit: Some previous coverage.

A Proclamation From His Majesty’s Governor Northam

His Majesty’s Governor Northam, Duke of Blackface, and by consent of His Majesty the Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia hereby issues this proclamation to the commoners of the Commonwealth.

For far too long, things have been allowed that all right-thinking subjects should have abhorred and repudiated. We, your intellectual, moral, and social superiors are now working most diligently to rectify the terrible oversights allowed by previous Governors and Governments.

As such, many additional legislations to control the weapons owned or to be owned by you, the peasantry, are now in work and progressing to my desk where I will sign them into law. These laws are for your benefit, as they will allow you to be more easily governed and your safety secured by the State.

It is most distressing, however, that you continue to resist these needed and benign efforts on your behalf. The nicknames of “Racist Ralph” and the low-class chatter of “Rectum Ralph” are most distressing to the finely tuned minds such as my own. How dare you have the temerity to continue to resist the actions of your betters, which are only in your best interest since we know far better than you what is best for you.

Accordingly, I am pleased to proclaim that His Majesty’s loyal subject Bourne, the Duke of Felching, has introduced into the assembly House Bill 1627 to outlaw all mockery, threats, or other hurtful words against any Governor, Governor-elect, or other leaders of this Commonwealth. I expect this bill to press on forthwith and reach my desk as expeditiously as possible so that we can heal the wounds of this Commonwealth by jailing and/or fining anyone who dares mock my most noble personage.

My Personal Defcon Listing

In a previous post on the coronavirus I made reference to going from concerned to worried. My mind, not working like most people’s, remembered the excellent comedy piece on other nations alert status that was allegedly done by John Cleese. With that, I realized I did have my own version.

DEFCON 5: The Dude Abides All is right and good in the world, pull up a chair, sit down, have a beverage of your choice and light up a cigar/pipe/whatever. Chill dude, all is good.

DEFCON 4: Sit Up Something is going on, time to sit up, pay attention, and perhaps even make some contingency plans.

What’s going on over there?

DEFCON 3: Really?!? Are you really trying to pull that? Are you going to make me dig into things, respond to things, and/or otherwise take action?

Really dude?

DEFCON 2: A Bit Miffed Well above peeved, I’m alert, ready, and will take what actions are required though I will do what I can to de-escalate things if I can and if it is the right thing to do.

Defcon 1: Welcome To Scotland.

It’s on. I can make it as personal as the above, or we can go larger scale if needed.

Thought I would share a bit of humor (such as it is) today as I think we all could use a bit of a laugh.

Coronavirus Update

Again, I have to start by saying there is no need to panic (yet) if you are in the United States. Running around in a mask and/or exposure suits is not helpful or smart, nor is making a “joke” and saying you have it: both types of things just point out that you are a dumbass.

Is there reason to worry? Yes. Now that even the WHO is reported as saying that there are likely more than 100,000 cases (mostly in China), it provides some validation to this study, this study, and this study.

As I’ve said before, the Chinese government has lied from the start about the disease and how bad it is. Read this article about what is coming out of China, and this article by Rod Dreher. The last also brings up two things that you do need to know about, along with some heartbreaking information from inside China.

The first is that the medical gear/drug shortage in China is not just a Chinese problem. It is also a problem here, in that there are already shortages here. It is going to get worse before it gets better. A number of people have argued for some time that it was not a good idea to become so heavily dependent on China for medicines and medical gear [not to mention electronics (including efforts to make us dependent upon them for military electronics) along with other finished products and raw goods]. Using regulation and other tactics to push things overseas was seen as a positive foreign policy in regards China and trying to control it. I would call it what I think of that policy, but am trying to some degree to keep this PG-13. Is this all going to have an impact on the US, Chinese, and global economies? Yep.

The second thing was a twitter link that Rod added to the article. I pulled up the source site for the graphic, and found it interesting to look at China and compare it to the interactive graphic from Johns Hopkins I’ve been linking to on a regular basis. I’m still playing with the data a bit, but I do find the correlation between high sulfur dioxide levels coming out of the cities with known high contagion rates interesting. Yes, it does appear to suggest that crematoriums are working overtime. And possibly in areas where there are no official cases…

If the models are correct, and if even the current official reports from China are correct, it appears that 2019-nCoV is more contagious than originally thought (hoped). The death rate, based on official figures, is approaching five percent however. If the unofficial reports coming out of China are correct, it is potentially much higher.

I wish the travel restrictions had been implemented much sooner. Then, you might not be reading about new cases in England and elsewhere, and the efforts to locate and test everyone those tourists contacted/interacted with during their trip. If the current restrictions and quarantines had been implemented even a week sooner, it would have taken thousands of potential transmission opportunities off the board. This article from Scientific American looks at some possibilities that are not good.

For all that I trust the WHO about as much as I do the Chinese government, they have daily situation updates that are a resource as you monitor what is going on.

So, should you panic? No. Should you be concerned? Yes. What is going on worries me, which on my personal defcon levels is a step above concerned. What am I doing? I’m watching, reading, and researching. Yes, I have started beefing up some of my normal levels of preparedness. If nothing happens, what I’ve gotten will get eaten, used, etc. in the normal course of life. More on preparedness later.

Other COVID19/COVID-19/2019-nCoV articles:

Expansion On A Theme

Well Maybe I Was Wrong

Some Quick Thoughts On Coronavirus 2019-nCoV

Why Should You Be Prepared?

Keeping Alert

Coronavirus And Practical Preparedness