COVID-19 – What We Know and What We Don’t

COVID-19

The virus dubbed “COVID-19 ” has been creating havoc and panic across the world as thousands of people have become ill, primarily in China. Deaths have been mounting. There are literally hundreds of conspiracy theories and panicked thoughts roaming the internet worldwide. While this article won’t scream that “we’re all gonna die,” there are a few coincidences that are pretty creepy.

Currently in the United States there are only around 15 cases of COVID-19.  Officials still say that the risk to the US is low, even though US military bases are being used as quarantine centers for evacuees from various venues such as the Diamond Princess Cruise Ship that had 340 Americans on board. The incubation period is said to be 14 days.

First keep in mind that China has been stealing from the United States on a regular basis. Intellectual property such as research has been a common theme for years.

China knew about COVID-19 in December, perhaps even before, but told no one until it was so far out of control they had no choice. On February 17, the director of Wuhan’s hospital succumbed to the disease, and earlier in February, the doctor who brought attention to the virus died as well. (Time)

Intellectual Property Theft 

On December 9, a Chinese National named Zheng Zaosong, 29, was detained at Logan Airport in Boston for attempting  to smuggle biological material. The South China Morning Post noted: “21 wrapped vials containing a ‘brown liquid’ that appeared to be ‘biological material’ were found in a sock during an inspection of his checked baggage.”

Zheng Zaosong allegedly lied to Customs officials about the vials. He eventually confessed that he stole 8 of the vials from the Beth Israel Hospital research lab in Boston, and replicated 11 others (SCMP says 21 vials). He also had a laptop belonging to another Chinese national that contained research material. He said that the laptop “wouldn’t fit” in his friend’s luggage.

He claimed to be taking the vials to Sun Yat-sen Memorial University for research, intending to publish a paper for himself.  The Govt did not release the contents of the vials, just stating that they contained “DNA.” The University has a satellite school in Wuhan, although it is NOT KNOWN if that was his destination.

His “friend,” Yanqing Ye, 29, turned out to be a Chinese Army Lieutenant in the PLA and member of the Communist Party. (Via Universal Hub). She was under the direct control of China’s military. She was indicted by the Federal government, but had flown back to China in April of last year. She allegedly was spying on behalf of China, and allowing her superior officer access to her credentials so he could snoop around.

Coincidence? Was this a simple theft of intellectual property, or something else? Zheng was held on a $100,000 bail, but the bail was revoked.

Another coincidence

In January, a well known Harvard Professor named Charles Lieber was arrested by US authorities after it was learned that he was secretly receiving money from the Chinese program called the Thousand Talents Plan. Lieber was the chair of Harvard University’s Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology. Yes, he was supposedly researching nanotechnology, not virology.  It’s just one of those weird coincidences, since the $50,000 per month contract he signed was from Wuhan.

NPR reported,

The Justice Department says Lieber, 60, lied about his contact with the Chinese program known as the Thousand Talents Plan, which the U.S. has previously flagged as a serious intelligence concern. He also is accused of lying about about a lucrative contract he signed with China’s Wuhan University of Technology.

In an affidavit unsealed Tuesday, FBI Special Agent Robert Plumb said Lieber, who led a Harvard research group focusing on nanoscience, had established a research lab at the Wuhan university — apparently unbeknownst to Harvard.

In response to the charges against Lieber, Harvard said in a statement to NPR: “The charges brought by the U.S. government against Professor Lieber are extremely serious. Harvard is cooperating with federal authorities, including the National Institutes of Health, and is initiating its own review of the alleged misconduct. Professor Lieber has been placed on indefinite administrative leave.”

Wuhan is a busy place, apparently.

Wuhan’s BLS4 Lab

Wuhan is home to China’s only BSL4 Laboratory.  BSL4 means “Biosafety Level 4” – it is the highest stage of safety for research on some of the worlds worst pathogens.

Note according to Nature .com: “Many stories have promoted an unverified theory that the Wuhan lab discussed in this article played a role in the coronavirus outbreak that began in December 2019.  Nature knows of no evidence that this is true; scientists believe the most likely source of the coronavirus to be an animal market.”

The problem with that statement is that the Wuhan wet market, while definitely a possible source of the disease, was inspected two months before the outbreak, according to John Cote at Special Forces Report. And China is still unclear about the source of COVID-19. Was it Bats?

The  COVID-19 outbreak occurred during the largest Chinese migration of people – the Chinese New Years. The city of Wuhan released 5 million people before China cracked down on travel from Hubei Province.

According to the CDC,

“Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in many different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can infect people and then spread between people such as with MERS-CoVSARS-CoV, and now with this new virus…

… Early on, many of the patients in the COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan, China had some link to a large seafood and live animal market, suggesting animal-to-person spread. Later, a growing number of patients reportedly did not have exposure to animal markets, indicating person-to-person spread. Chinese officials report that sustained person-to-person spread in the community is occurring in China. Person-to-person spread has been reported outside China, including in the United States and other countries.” 

There you have it: what we know and what we don’t. We know for certain the epicenter of the outbreak was in Wuhan. We know for certain that COVID-19 is spreading person to person across the world. We know for certain that thousands of Chinese have been infected, and many have died. What we do NOT know is whether the Wuhan labs and technology had anything to do with the outbreak.

Featured photo: Wuhan Virology Institute, 2017

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