Schools in Florida are shut down, along with restaurants, night clubs, Disney World, theaters, any public venue that isn’t essential. Field hospitals are being deployed around the state.
How did we get here?
In January I saw the news about an epidemic in Wuhan, China and wondered what the mainstream media thought about it. Not much as it turned out:
Worried About Catching The New Coronavirus? In The U.S., Flu Is A Bigger Threat1
Get a grippe, America. The flu is a much bigger threat than coronavirus, for now.2
I had to visit amateur blogs and forums to find little gems like this:
A laboratory in Wuhan is on the cusp of being cleared to work with the world’s most dangerous pathogens.3
If the virus escaped, nobody could predict the trajectory.4
Now, there’s a lot of nonsense on the web, but you can filter out the noise using fifth grade research techniques and concentrating on primary sources such as links to reputable medical or science journals.
The data backed by high-quality primary sources indicate this virus didn’t originate in a market:
- Wuhan, the center of the outbreak, has a Level 4 pathogen research lab, which is certified to work with aerosol-transmitted pathogens fatal to humans, for which there is no vaccine or treatment.3
- China has a history of pathogens escaping its labs. “The SARS virus has escaped from high-level containment facilities in Beijing multiple times, notes Richard Ebright, a molecular biologist at Rutgers University.” 3
- Although it’s very difficult for a virus to jump from an animal to a human without evolving first in an intermediate host, scientists at a US lab did it with a bat coronavirus.5 6 The Wuhan outbreak also involved a bat coronavirus.
- Two of the scientists who co-wrote the paper in item 3) work at the Wuhan lab:
- If you visit the Nature link at endnote 6 and click on Xing-Yi Ge, it states “Xing-Yi Ge. Key Laboratory of Special Pathogens and Biosafety, Wuhan Institute of Virology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Wuhan, China.”
- Similarly if you click on Zhengli-Li Shi, it states “Zhengli-Li Shi. Key Laboratory of Special Pathogens and Biosafety, Wuhan Institute of Virology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Wuhan, China.”
China has a history of pathogens escaping its labs. The center of the outbreak has a laboratory certified for working on pathogens fatal to humans. At least two of the doctors at that lab helped to get a bat coronavirus to jump from bats to humans without an intermediate host.
And if you want early warning of a pandemic so you can prep, you’ll get better information from a rocketry forum than The Washington Post or National Public Radio.
Aubrey, Allison. Worried About Catching The New Coronavirus? In The U.S., Flu Is A Bigger Threat. National Public Radio. 29 Jan 2020. ↩
Bernstein, Lenny. Get a grippe, America. The flu is a much bigger threat than coronavirus, for now. The Washington Post. 1 Feb 2020. ↩
Cyranoski, David. Inside the Chinese lab poised to study world’s most dangerous pathogens. Nature, vol. 542, no. 7642, 22 Feb 2017. ↩↩↩
Butler, Declan. Engineered bat virus stirs debate over risky research. Nature, 12 Nov 2015. ↩
Menachery, V., Yount, B., Debbink, K. et al. A SARS-like cluster of circulating bat coronaviruses shows potential for human emergence. Nature Medicine 21, 1508–1513, 2015. ↩↩