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.
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