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Post Wuhan Questions, Summarized (from Gary Moore)
Created by John Eipper on 05/03/20 7:05 AM

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Wuhan Questions, Summarized (from Gary Moore) (John Eipper, USA, 05/03/20 7:05 am)

Gary Moore writes:

John Eipper has framed the big question (April 29) implied by Eddie Mears's (April 26) map-confirmation, showing that a large, virus-related, Chinese government facility is indeed (as marginalized reports had kept insisting) "only 300 yards away" from the storied Wuhan seafood market, ground-zero for the original Covid-19 outbreak.

Allegations that any such facility might stand so near the market had previously been easily dismissed because Google Maps shows nothing there. Eddie's use of China's Baidu Maps, evading Google's China-blindness, shows the reality--which is no minor storefront. Apparently rising 15 stories or more, the big blue skyscraper is prominently signed, and as I now see, is part of an even larger disease-related official compound fronting 288 Machang Road--really only a single long block from the market--as cross-confirmed by the Website of the Wuhan Municipal Center for Disease Control (https://www.whcdc.org/show/86.html ).

Naturally, the mere location is no kind of smoking gun in terms of direct evidence for any speculation or theory. But its confirmation--and the maze of illusions that had shrouded it--converge as one more puzzle piece in a list of such eyebrow-raising points in the Wuhan/Covid origin riddle. The list, given below, contains so many such question-raisers that some have seldom or never been phrased publicly until now.

John's question: Now that we can finally say that a facility so relevant--and so large--is so near the mysterious viral emergence site, then what, if anything, does this mean? Consider the list of the converging riddles:

1.  As I've slogged through the Wuhan mysteries, it slowly became clear that many would not be mysteries at all if Chinese authorities had not discreetly omitted from publication (with little outcry from overburdened observers) the facts on two seemingly routine points that the government clearly possessed, and which were getting bypassed in discussion. The first is this: If captured wild mammals being sold as food at the confusingly named Seafood Market were really the source of Covid-19, then why hadn't the government, which ostentatiously shut down that market on January 1, in a swarm of moon-suits and disinfectant crews, simply used its on-site test kits to test the animals it was evicting? Actual testing would have obviated all this subsequent maundering about Was-it-a-Bat? or Was-It-a-Pangolin? Or Was-it- a-Whatever? (As late as January 19 the government's top Covid task force leader, Zhong Nanshan, was still bizarrely musing that the market culprit might conceivably have been a bamboo rat--or, well, maybe a badger, he offered). Didn't they know? Didn't they test? At least since China's 2002-2003 SARS epidemic, such testing of market animals has been established procedure. But on January 1, 2019, and again on January 12, government boasting about Wuhan market testing cited only "environmental samples" being taken--585 of them, they said--taken from the market grounds, even from a garbage truck--as if the animals themselves never existed.

I needed days more of slogging to finally get the glimmer of admission: "specific animal associations have not been confirmed." Behind all the polite omissions, the implication grows stronger and stronger: Of course, they did test the market animals--but the results have been buried because it would seem that none of the animals was found to harbor Covid-19. And this would mean that the entire animal-to-human Seafood Market explanation used by authorities to minimize the mysteries in the outbreak is scientifically unsupported.

That market, without doubt, was intimately involved in the start of the epidemic, but perhaps simply as a "booster" for otherwise-started human-to-human contagion--as market crowds amplified the spread of infection (leaving any distant animal ancestor of the bat-related coronavirus more cryptic than ever). The thing did get into the Seafood Market, all right, but how? And (lugubriously) why? How to explain what seems to be the fantastic coincidence that the one spot best suited to a misleading official explanation about animals was also the one spot selected by the remarkably cooperative virus spores for their landing? If animals weren't infected, this coincidence dangles inexplicably.

2.  The second question that the government could have cleared up was the identity and situation of Wuhan's first confirmed Covid-19 sufferer, the one said in various studies to have begun showing symptoms not on December 27th, 15th, 12th, or 10th, as in assorted retrenchments, but on December 1st. This was not the fabled (and perhaps unknown) "patient zero" who was the very first to begin the outbreak, but was close (the overall timeline persuasively goes back at least to November 17). Obviously, Case December-1 was a real person in the earliest chain of infection, and, it became known, this person was shown to have no links to the Seafood Market. Could this, perhaps, have been an infected lab employee? Well, no. The mystery goes deeper than that. The BBC's Chinese Service was finally able to confirm, from senior doctor Wenjuan Wu of Jinyintan Hospital, that Case Dec.-1 was an elderly male--who had Alzheimer's disease. He was said to seldom leave his home, several bus transfers away from the Seafood Market. And none of his family members or apparently any caregivers caught the virus. So here was a guy in a box --and yet somehow the contagion found him--and yet it did not remain contagious with him, and went no farther. The next six cases, running through December when the exponential doubling of contagion was still tiny, had no apparent connection to Case-Dec.-1, but they did have close ties to the Seafood Market. Most or all six worked there. How can all this fit together? As when 19th-century parasitology was still too young to comprehend double parasites (not just the malaria plasmodium but also the mosquito giving it a ride), we seem to be missing such large puzzle pieces on Covid-19 (whether biological or somehow facilitational) that the public picture makes no sense, encouraging armchair simplifications.

3. The next now-confirmed case, and the first at the market, was Wei Guixian, an energetic 57-year-old woman, whose daily trip from home to her job in the market covered nearly twice the amount of city pavement as stood between her job site and that towering disease-control facility only 300 yards south. Tracing by the Wall Street Journal found Wei's December 10th cough worsening in coming days as she tried three different clinics or emergency rooms in a tight circle around the market (and around that 15-story neighbor), with each customary prescription failing. The words "atypical pneumonia" mesmerize Chinese medical workers, because they can be code for SARS, the former epidemic which, for a moment in 2003, looked as if it might consume all China, but then almost immediately receded, with "only" about 800 deaths. SARS, too, was a coronavirus distantly traceable to bats, 96% similar to today's novelty--with the devil being in that changed (and mystifyingly more contagious) 4 percent. SARS in 2002 had made its way to humans by jumping first to caged palm civets, weasel-like wild mammals farmed for food. Market civets tested in the wake of SARS were found to be so infected that wholesale slaughter was undertaken. No such findings on today's Covid-19. Nor did Wei Guixian, as she began coughing on December 10th, work with palm civets--or with mammals at all. She was a shrimp peddler. And the other five early cases from the market, the ones used cryptically but repeatedly to paint a neat scenario of wild mammal contagion (along the familiar lines of SARS), those others were seafood dealers, too. The words "Seafood...Market" (Haixian...Shichang) on the big blue sign facing Xinhua Road was not there for nothing. In all that 50,000 square meters forming a "scruffy complex of 1,000 stalls," a September 25, 2019, inspection (back when there was no controversy to hide) found only "8 merchants selling tiger frogs, snakes, hedgehogs, and other animals," all licensed and shipshape, but tucked away in a western corner of the complex. Inspection details suggested that Wuhan, the urban powerhouse of temperate central China, just doesn't have much wild-animal trade--unlike sultry southern China, a thousand miles away, where quite different customs spawn many wild-animal markets--and where SARS broke out in 2002. The new Wuhan coronavirus of 2019-2020--unless it seeped from some lonely, untestable hedgehog (or badger or whatever) hidden in the forlorn western-market stalls--would seem to have landed by phenomenal accident at the one spot in Wuhan where it could readily be given a convincing, SARS-like explanation. That it did receive such an official explanation--for about a month, until the holes began to show--is not the whole point. The larger point asks why the outbreak occurred at a site where the explanation, pre-existing in memories of SARS, could be so easily re-applied.

4. Dr. Zhong Nanshan, the 83-year-old pulmonologist sent to Wuhan by Beijing on January 18, as official cover stories unraveled (such as "only animal-to-human contagion"), is a revered national hero in China. A generation earlier, Zhong had been "the doctor who first reported SARS," at his home practice in the subtropical area around the city foreigners used to call Canton, now rectified to Guangzhou. Southern China's proximity to the jungle climes of Southeast Asia helps give it a special stamp. It's not that the winters can't be cold at times, but unwelcome chill is fended off by some widespread southern folklore--such as the belief that eating tangy wild-animal meat braces human bodies against the cold. In November, across that southern edge of China, seasonal wild-animal markets crank up for their lively winter trade, fed not just by the occasional hunter with a tow-sack, but by large networks of farms with crowded cages or pens of civets, bamboo rats, or other popular meat species. Also sold down there--unlike in far-northerly Wuhan--are bats. It was on November 16, 2002, that the first murmur of the SARS epidemic was said to emerge--initially not identified at all with the wild animal markets, because at first there were not enough visible puzzle pieces to reveal the picture. The 2002 "atypical pneumonia" seemed to come out of nowhere, diabolically, inexplicably, appearing in five municipalities almost simultaneously, but credited first to Foshan, a satellite city of Guangzhou, in a population area so dense that the satellite alone has a million people. Footprints appeared. A waitress fell ill in a restaurant where live civets were caged right out beside the tables.  At one of which tables, 15 feet or so from a cage, a patron sat who also later fell ill. But through December the 2002 clues were still veiled, and covered by later-notorious government bungling, silencing and minimizing. With almost train-schedule precision, the early Guangzhou/SARS trajectory, down to the landmark dates, was strikingly similar to Wuhan 17 years later--if you just subtract the animals from the later Wuhan version, and add a catastrophic increase in asymptomatic contagion.

5. And then there's that other coincidence. Well before the eruption of late 2019, the city of Wuhan was China's virus city--in the sense that it was the national nerve-center for study of deadly viruses--and especially bat-related viruses like SARS. The emblem of this, funded by France in 2004 in the wake of SARS, was a state-of-the art virology lab, the only site in mainland China cleared for the most dangerous studies: China's National Bio-Safety Level 4 Laboratory, standing at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV). This complex, it should be noted, is 17 miles away from the Seafood Market and stands in southern Wuhan. It is quite different from the big 15-story box almost on the Seafood Market's doorstep. That latter, much closer complex is the Wuhan Municipal Disease Control and Prevention Center, a large cog in a national system. It, too, on its own track, studies deadly viruses and specifically bat-borne viruses--though with a lower level of formal safeguards than the elaborately sealed WIV lab, more than 15 miles away. The confusing presence of not one but two repositories of potential viral threats in the same enigmatic city has moved conspiracy theories to sometimes conflate the two sites, as if it were all one big lab, or as if known aspects of one could be projected onto the other. The most detailed theories have focused on WIV, where lead field virologist Shi Zhengli has beeen called "the Bat Woman" for her cave-caught specimens and cutting-edge lab analyses and experiments. But each wave of suspicion about Shi Zhengli or her lab, seeking to connect them to the start of Covid-19, seems to produce no actual evidence, amid a series of impassioned denials saying that the virus couldn't possibly have been an escape from WIV. Generally, the world scientific community seems to agree, with only a few dissents, each a maze in itself. Meanwhile, other suspicions have focused on the 15-story facility closer to the market, which also has, as it were, its own "Bat Man" (Tian Junhua), who was another minor media celebrity even before the outbreak, owing to Tian's cave forays collecting bat virus samples, including viruses from horseshoe bats, designated as having been the ancestral link to both SARS and Covid-19. In this way, again, Covid-19 displayed eerie radar. It picked as its debut point not the more natural-seeming, bat-teeming haunts of southern China-- where SARS had been more naturally explained as a logical native outgrowth--but instead, Covid-19 somehow hiked a thousand miles north (while leaving no preliminary outbreaks along the way) to erupt in what may be China's single most virus-collecting city. A US intelligence summary leaked to the Washington Times (April 26) notes the ambivalence: Not even intently focused analysts could find any direct proofs of any kind of lab accident or worse--and yet on the other hand, said the report, all other attempts at explaining the origins or the virus are "highly unlikely"-- leaving the Wuhan laboratory environment as the lonely remaining candidate, by default.

The field of precedents is large. When the Black Death (probably Yersinia pestis) was said to take from one-fourth to one-third of the population of Europe from 1347 onward, the map of contagion showed seemingly inexplicable holes. Spared miraculously was a wide area around the northern Italian city of Milan--though centuries later in 1629 the plague came back, and hit that same city so hard it was sometimes called the Plague of Milan (quite apart from March 2019's billion-dollar China-Italy "Silk Road" agreement that hastened travel from Wuhan to Milanese satellites like picturesque Bergamo). In the seventeenth-century Plague of Milan, mysteries engendered such a straining for explanations that conspiracy theories mushroomed into mob killings, especially of avoided outsiders, including lepers and Jews. A man who apparently sought only to wipe off a stool before sitting on it (an act that might have sounded strange in a world before social distancing) was interpreted as instead sprinkling plague poison, and reportedly was mobbed and killed.

The puzzle pieces on Covid-19 are piling up so rapidly, and yet so opaquely, that fey official makeshift explanations fall before anything substantial can replace them. What happened at the Wuhan Seafood Market? One answer to conspiracy theories lies not in primly censoring but in wearily comparing them. Theories conjecturing that an escaped virus--or a launched virus--from a Chinese lab just has to be the explanation for Covid-19 can be addressed from the wings, by pointing out that the same paucity of real evidence could about as easily be used to "prove" an opposite theory, the one in China claiming that the spread came from US personnel at Wuhan's October 18-27, 2019, World Military Games.

Something large is looming in the silhouettes we strain to interpret in Wuhan. Is it merely biological, or somehow facilitational? When the 1870s brought yellow fever to another city, Jacksonville, Florida, they fired cannons into the air, hoping for germ-killing vibrations. They could dimly see the puzzle pieces, but couldn't quite fit them together.

JE comments:  No one in WAISworld (or outside it, either) has patiently sifted through the evidence more than Gary Moore.  Outstanding work, Gary!  I'd like to build on a point you raise in #5, above.  What is the prevailing "blame the US" narrative in China?  I admittedly should be better informed on what happened in Wuhan last October.  The World Military Games?  It's an Olympic-type event for armed forces personnel.  The timing is perfect to construct a "blame the foreigners" narrative.

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  • Lab Made? The Ultimate COVID-19 Question (Luciano Dondero, Italy 05/04/20 4:30 AM)
    A very thorough and fascinating reconstruction from Gary Moore (May 3rd).

    Here are two pieces that might help us all in figuring out what went on: The first one is a paper on Medium by Yuri Deigin, https://medium.com/@yurideigin/lab-made-cov2-genealogy-through-the-lens-of-gain-of-function-research-f96dd7413748 (titled "Lab-Made? SARS-CoV-2 Genealogy Through the Lens of Gain-of-Function Research") and a podcast by evolutionary biologists Bret Weinstein and Heather Heying, where they essentially endorse Deigin's study ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FKtsx0fZzzQ ).

    Deigin documents in ample detail how a lot of what is now known about the new Coronavirus pandemic can be traced back to a series of studies that were published in previous years.

    For a more dramatic take, one can watch a video from "China in Focus--NTD," https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Le_rfTdayLs which supposedly documents how the Sars-Cov-2 was actually engineered in various research laboratories in China. Again, their documentation seems to be supported by various Chinese documents as well as various papers published in Nature and Lancet and other non-Chinese controlled publications, and presumably not linked to the Falun Gong sect.

    JE comments:  That the Chinese intentionally manufactured coronavirus would be the Conspiracy of the Century.  Luciano, by "Falun Gong-linked," you presumably mean the Epoch Times, which I note has been advertising heavily on YouTube.  I understand the ET has fully embraced the Chinese bioweapon theory.

    Is anyone in WAISdom a regular reader of the Epoch Times?  If so, please report.

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  • Origins and Effects of Black Death, 1347 (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 05/04/20 2:29 PM)
    Excellent post from Gary Moore on the coronavirus (May 3rd); however, I would add a couple of addenda:

    1) The 1347 Black Death originated in the Far East, probably Mongolia, and moved Westward reaching Caffa (Kaffa/Kefe/Feodosia in Crimea), a Genoese colony bought in 1266. The fortifications still exist.

    The town was the main center of the Ligurian-dominated area called Gazaria. One of the first books about the rules of shipping is the "Liber Gazarie" promulgated between 1316 and 1344 to regulate not only shipping at sea but also the organization of the shore operations and commerce. The relations with the Golden Horde were at times stormy; consider the war of 1308 and then the siege of 1347, when the Mongol Khan engaged in biological warfare by catapulting corpses over the city walls to infect the inhabitants. Those who escaped westward spread the disease to Sicily and Genoa. But the Black Death also came by ship from the Venetian-dominated area southwest of Caffa to Ragusa (Dubrovnik), and other ports of Venetian Dalmatia, finally arriving in Venice and from there to the interior.

    The Italian dominions of Crimea lasted until Gedik Ahmet Pasha, leader of the Ottoman fleet, conquered Caffa and surrounding areas in 1475.

    2) Some historians believe that the mild impact of the Black Death in Milan, killing perhaps only 15% of the total population of 100,000, was due to the rigid lockdown and quarantine (as at present) imposed by the ruler Luchino Visconti. Also, Poland had a mild pandemic, thanks to the rigid lockdown imposed by Casimir III the Great while the Basque Countries probably were saved by their mountains.

    JE comments:  This gives us some chilling perspective.  Nothing (we pray) will ever approach the length and devastation of the Black Death:  the plague lasted for 15 years, claiming at least 75 million dead (some estimates reach 200,000,000).  Europe's population was reduced by 30%-60%.

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