Coronavirus: The Plot Thickens
Researchers have greatly advanced their understanding of viral evolution since H1N1 a decade ago and finding patient zero is now more science than art.
Submitted by Godfree Roberts
September 2008: Though the first cases of H1N1 swine flu were reported in California and Texas in late March, 2009, subsequent genetic analysis suggests that it began six months before it was first detected, in September, 2008, at the start of the ‘flu season. The CDC admits, below, that earlier Covid-19 cases went undetected, too
May, 2018: The President Fires the entire US Pandemic Response Team and does not replace it.
July 3, 2019: The CDC halts research at Fort Detrick, citing “national security reasons” for not releasing information about its decision.
Jul 14, 2019: Chinese researcher escorted from infectious disease lab amid RCMP investigation. Public Health Agency of Canada describes it as a possible ‘policy breach,’ no risk to Canadian public. The first Chinese to discover or warn about the Covid-19 outbreak?
August, 2019: First Vaping Death Reported by Health Officials “Amid the lack of information, investigators scrambled to find shared links to the respiratory problems. Officials said earlier this week that many patients, most of whom were adolescents or young adults, had described difficulty breathing, chest pain, vomiting and fatigue,” the precise symptoms of Covid-19 infection.
October 27, 2019: At a peak of international tension and the ‘flu season in the northern hemisphere, on the eve of China’s biggest travel season, 300 American military servicemen visit Wuhan for the International Military Games.
December, 2019: A Chinese medical researcher is arrested in Boston trying to take biological samples back to China. Zheng Zaosong, of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, confessed to taking material from a lab in Boston. FBI Special Agent Kara Spice found 21 wrapped vials containing a “brown liquid” that appeared to be “biological material” (samples of post-mortem lung tissue look like ‘brown liquid’). Zheng’s roommate, also a researcher, told FBI agents that two labmates of Zheng had succeeded in getting specimens to China. China, presumably, now went on high alert.
Jan 6, 2020: Infectious disease expert Amesh A. Adalja, M.D., senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, agrees, “We are on track to have a season like the 2017-2018 season,” when 80,000 Americans died of flu complications.
January 5, 202o: Malaysia’s Assistant to the Prime Minister, Matthias Chang, speculates that the US is waging biological warfare on China.
January 28, 2020: Harvard Chemistry Professor Arrested, Handcuffed, And Accused Of Lying About Ties To China. Charles Lieber, Chair of Harvard’s Department of Chemical Biology, led a Chinese research group focusing on the use of nanotechnology to identify viruses.
February 23, 2020: Chinese scientists found genomic evidence that the seafood market in Wuhan was not the source of the novel coronavirus. Their genetic data suggests the virus was introduced from elsewhere and had already circulated widely among humans in Wuhan before December 2019, probably beginning in mid- to late November.
March 6, 2020: Question: How did the virus come to the United States? Answer: “The first known patients in the U.S. contracted the virus while traveling in other countries or after exposure to someone who had been to China or one of the other affected areas. But now, a few cases here cannot be traced to these risk factors. This is concerning because it suggests the illness may be spreading across communities for which the source of infection is unknown, which we call community spread/transmission. Dr. Emily Landon, spokesperson, U Chicago School of Medicine.
March 9, 2020: HHS staffers often weren’t informed about coronavirus developments because they didn’t have adequate clearance. He said he was told that the matters were classified “because it had to do with China.”
March 11, 2020: White House classifies coronavirus deliberations. The meetings at HHS were held in a secure area called a “Sensitive Compartmentalized Information Facility,” or SCIF, usually reserved for intelligence and military operations. HHS has SCIFs because theoretically it would play a major role in biowarfare or chemical attacks.
March 12, 2020: CDC director Robert Redfield admits to a House Oversight Committee that some Americans who were diagnosed as dying from influenza tested positive for Covid-19 posthumously.
Mar 13, 2020: Chinese FM’s Lijian Zhao demands US authorities reveal what they’re hiding about the origins of Covid-19. “When did patient zero begin in the US? How many people are infected? What are the names of the hospitals? It might be the US army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan. Be transparent! Make your data public! The US owes us an explanation!”
China Timeline to Mar. 15, 2020
November, 2002: After its experience with the SARS outbreak in Guangdong Province in 2002, China implemented a rapid response protocol for infectious diseases. The protocol empowered the Health Ministry to assemble professional and managerial help from across the country, established an emergency response coordinating team, prepared funding and authorization for supplies, equipment and emergency health care facilities, anticipating that existing hospitals would be overwhelmed.
July-December 2019: Chinese researchers in the USA informed China’s Health Ministry of a novel Coronavirus outbreak there, triggering a readiness alert nationwide. The WHO describes what happened next, “In the face of a previously unknown virus, China has rolled out perhaps the most ambitious, agile, and aggressive disease containment effort in history…China’s bold approach to contain the rapid spread of this new respiratory pathogen has changed the course of a rapidly escalating and deadly epidemic.”
Dec 26, 2019: Jixian Zhang detects four anomalous pneumonia infections in Wuhan and reports them to the provincial CDC the next day. The provincial authorities immediately inform the national CDC which prepares to implement the pandemic response protocols.
December 30, 2019: China’s national CDC notifies the WHO, which reports Zhang’s discovery to the world.
December 31, 2019: WHO reports Zhang’s discovery to the world.
January 7, 2020: China identifies the virus as 2019-nCov and confirms it five days later. President Xi tells officials that the country is on a ‘war footing’
January 13, 2020: China makes the first 2019-nCov test kits available.
January 25, 2020: Construction begins on a 1,000 bed intensive care hospital in Wuhan.
January 26, 2020: China extends Spring Festival holiday to contain the outbreak.
February 5, 2020: First patients moved into new 1,000 bed intensive care hospital.
March 4, 2020: February rail freight loadings rise 4.5% YOY.
March 5, 2020: Shipments to foreign JIT customers upgraded: government subsidizes upgrades from sea to rail delivery and from rail to air delivery.
March 10, 2020: Government organizes and subsidizes bus, rail and air transport for two hundred million migrant workers to return to urban jobs.
March 16, 2020: Ninety percent of businesses expected to resume full operations. All Apple stores open.
Postscript: Researchers have greatly advanced their understanding of viral evolution since H1N1 a decade ago and finding patient zero is now more science than art. Recently, a team of Chinese researchers claimed to demonstrate that Covid-19 was born in September, 2019. The British researchers who had discovered the earlier H1N1 date are not convinced.