Covid before the cover-up

After Covid became a global problem in the spring of 2020, the Chinese government became very defensive about claims that it had allowed the disease to spread via unsafe animal markets. They became even more defensive when the accusations shifted to a possible lab leak. When the Chinese government gets defensive, it starts lying. In this case, it speculated that the virus might have come to China from imported fish, or it might have escaped from a US research lab—despite no real evidence for either claim.

Thus it’s refreshing to look at news reports from before anyone realized that anything important had occurred. This bulletin from Hong Kong’s version of the CDC is from December 31, 2019, and was one of the first news reports of what would later become a global pandemic.

That doesn’t sound too bad! If Chinese authorities had known what they were dealing with, they would have easily stopped the pandemic in its tracks in January 2020. Unfortunately, they were just as ignorant as the rest of us.

This is one reason why I still lean toward the animal market hypothesis. That was where all the evidence was pointing before the Chinese government even knew that they had a major disaster on their hands, a disaster that would later trigger an aggressive cover-up.



14 Responses to “Covid before the cover-up”

  1. Gravatar of Michael Rulle Michael Rulle
    2. January 2022 at 16:42

    Please, no more COVID food market stories. Imagine if it happened at the Fulton fish market? There would be a lot of pissed off people. Who cares?

    Already a NYears resolution broken by me.

    I paid for Disney+ for the Beatles (plus my grandkids love Disney—so having the plus is an extra!) l.

    I have to admit, to my shock, that their advertisement for Dis+, emphasizing strong teams and work—climaxing with a 2-3 second clip of the Beatles at work—-literally gave me a shiver up my spine. It’s worth it.

    Have a great 2022.

  2. Gravatar of steve steve
    2. January 2022 at 18:58

    Covid has a lot of clinical presentations. At the time they had found 27 pneumonia cases there would have been some cases with a GI presentation they had missed. Some with respiratory illness with no X-ray evidence of pneumonia. It is most infectious in the 24 hours before you become symptomatic. It is highly infectious and for a long time. Lots of people are asymptomatic. I’m pretty impressed that they recognized it was a different disease after only 27 cases but I think it unlikely they would have been to stop in its tracks knowing what I listed above.


  3. Gravatar of anon anon
    2. January 2022 at 19:29

    wish us all a better 2022!

    having said that, an animal market leak doesn’t mean the virus didn’t escape from the lab via animal market. did the virus come to the animal market from a remote origin or from some vector in the lab?

    a lab leak also doesn’t mean it is biological warfare. it could be just a careless gap in BSL4 procedures.

  4. Gravatar of Matthias Matthias
    2. January 2022 at 22:35

    Anon, a lab leak seems unlikely but vageuly plausible. And yes, a lab leak and wet market spreading event seem like a possible combination, though I have no clue how likely it is.

    Deliberate biological warfare seems extremely implausible: unless you are a terrorist, wouldn’t you want your weapon to be more likely to hit your enemies than your own people?

    COVID so far seems like it discriminates perhaps by age and pre-existing conditions, but not by eg nationality or even ethnicity.

  5. Gravatar of Matthias Matthias
    2. January 2022 at 22:37

    Scott, thanks for digging up the old reports. There’s nothing more subversive than a long memory.

    On that note: do you know of some nice and definite contemporary write-up of scare mongering around the 2013 US fiscal cliff?

    It was a big story at the time, but I find it almost impossible to find news stories from back then now. And they would be really handy in some discussions with friends.

  6. Gravatar of Rinat Rinat
    3. January 2022 at 01:09

    There have been numerous reports of an outbreak as early as October (intelligence report), and nobody would have known about the Virus if it wasn’t for a courageous doctor working at the Wuhan Hospital. I kindly remind you that the whistleblower’s home raided – he was then beaten, canceled from weibo and wechat, and then mysteriously died (officials say from covid, his family says the government killed him).

    But once again, your posts reflect trivial thinking. The origin, at this particular moment, doesn’t matter. What matters is how you deal with the problem. Canceling virologists, calling Harvard and Oxford academics “fringe” for publishing the great barrington declaration, or calling people conspiracy theorists because their messaging violates what the WEF now calls the “trusted news inititative” or “reimagining media”, is not only dangerous but it is counterproductive and totalitarian. There is also something sickening, and spooky, about a group of MNC’s meeting and coordinating a global agenda once a year in Brussels. “reimagining media” and “trusted news” sounds a lot like the ministry of truth.

    Start speaking out, before it’s too late. You are mistaken if you think these people have your best interest in mind.

  7. Gravatar of nick nick
    3. January 2022 at 04:57

    Somebody tell me where this freak lives, so I can punch him in the face.

    He sends his Marxists biosecurity state on us and expects no retailation? I say it is time to fuck up a Sumner

  8. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    3. January 2022 at 09:09

    Steve, You said:

    “I think it unlikely they would have been to stop in its tracks knowing what I listed above.”

    The problem with this claim is that they did stop in in its tracks in the spring of 2020, and under far more difficult conditions. It would have been relatively easy to quarantine Wuhan in December 2019.

    Anon, Occam’s razor?

    Matthias, There was a letter signed by more than 300 economists warning of the effect of austerity. Konczal and Krugman said it was a “test” of market monetarism.

  9. Gravatar of postkey postkey
    3. January 2022 at 10:58

    “GOF Reveals that SARS-CoV-2 is Man Made & Paid for by U.S Taxpayers

    1999: U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services (HHS) funds research amplifying the infectious character of Coronaviruses.

    2000: In May* Ralph Baric successfully uses reverse genetics (cDNA**) to rescued infectious clone*** of SARS-CoV Urbani.

    2002:In April Christopher M Curtis, Boyd Young & Ralph Baric file a patent for a recombinant (chimeric) DNA means of producing “an infectious, replication defective, coronavirus.” Funded by NIH Grant GM63228. Dr. Shi Zhengli and colleagues increase infectivity by combining an HIV pseudovirus with SARS-CoV-1.

    2003: Dr. Ralph Baric at UNC Chapel Hill receives NIH grant AI23946-08 officially classified as affiliated with NIAID. • Baric works on synthetically altering Coronaviridae.

    2006: Chinese**** researchers combine HCV, HIV-1, SARS-CoV-1 & SARS-CoV-2.

    2007: NSF Grant IIS-0513650 (Italy, France and Indiana University) study addresses FIRST CRITICAL STEP to control a pandemic – shut down International Travel. Given this knowledge why did Fauci tell Trump a Travel Ban was unnecessary?

    2011: Scientists express Concerns about GoF after Labs in Wisconsin and the Netherlands mutate already lethal H5N1 Asian Avian Influenza Virus (Bird Flu) increasing infectivity.

    2013: Middle East Respiratory Virus (MERS) outbreak with 30-40% fatality in Saudi Arabia (2014) and South Korea (2015). Rhesus macaques show early treatement with interferon-α2b and ribavirin critical to treatment success.

    Baric***** and Chinese scientists isolate 3 coronaviruses from bats with HKU4 spike protein – unable to infect human cells.

    2014: CDC accidentally exposes workers to Anthrax; ships deadly flu virus. NIH finds 50-year old forgotten vials of smallpox. Obama Administration halts Gain-of-Function Research

    2015: Dr. Zhengli et al “re-engineered HKU4 spike aiming to build its capacity to infect human cells.” “To this end, we introduced two single mutations…mutations in these motifs in coronavirus spikes have demonstrated dramatic effects on viral entry into human cells.”

    Baric and Zhengli announce they can make a more dangerous, virulent and infectious virus. ******

    2017: Gain-of-Function Research Ban Lifted

    2018: Zhengli presents research at Shanghai Jiao Tong University on 14 Nov. 2018 entitled “Studies on Bat Coronavirus and its cross-species infection.”
    This presentation has since been deleted from the University website.

    2019: Summer deletion of Wuhan Institute of Virology Corona Virus data bank.

    December 31 Wuhan Municipal Health Commission report******* discussing COVID-19 pneumonia – deleted”
    * U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/206,537, filed May 21, 2000
    ** Complimentary DNA is Reverse Transcription (mRNA->DNA) frequently using Moloney murine leukemia virus.
    **** Huang Q, Cheng Y, Guo Q, Li Q. Preparation of a Chimeric Armored RNA as a Versatile Calibrator for Multiple Virus Assays. Clinchem 2006; 52(7):1446-1448 and Supplement A.
    ***** Yang Y…Baric RS, et al. Receptor usage and cell entry of bat coronavirus HKU4 provide insight into bat-to-human transmission of MERS coronavirus. PNAS 2014;111(34):12516-12521. Funded with NIH grants RO1AI089728 &
    ****** Zhengli S, Baric RS, et sl. Two Mutations Were Critical for Bat-to-Human Transmission of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus. J Virol.2015;89(17):9199-9123. Funded by NIH grants RO1AI089728, RO1AI110700.
    ******* Wuhan City Health Committee (WCHC). Wuhan Municipal Health and Health Commission’s briefing on the current pneumonia epidemic situation in our city 2019 [updated 31 December 2019, 14 January 2020]. Available from:

  10. Gravatar of Matthias Matthias
    3. January 2022 at 21:20

    Scott, thanks for the link!

  11. Gravatar of Harry Harry
    6. January 2022 at 07:45

    Just more proof Sumner is wrong

    There are about 40 of these studies now, but since Sumner is part of the mass formation psychosis, I’m sure we’ll continue to see him publish unscientific rubbish about how vaccines and masks are the answer (he has no idea, no medical background, he is just regurgitating what the CDC says), and that if only everyone would get triple, quadruple, and quintuple shots as we’ve been told by the busy bodies in Washington, we’ll all be safe from the virus.

  12. Gravatar of Covid 1/6/22: The Blip | Don't Worry About the Vase Covid 1/6/22: The Blip | Don't Worry About the Vase
    6. January 2022 at 10:21

    […] Scott Sumner looks back on what it was like two years ago, when the pandemic could potentially have … Since China did successfully contain it within China, it’s fair to think there’s a good chance that the same measures taken earlier would have contained it before it got elsewhere. How realistic that counterfactual is, and what that would take, is an important question going forwards. The necessary effort would not have been small or cheap. Do we have any good examples of containing something this hard to contain by acting early and aggressively on a (relatively) small scale? […]

  13. Gravatar of Anonymous Anonymous
    6. January 2022 at 16:56

    What other studies? That’s the only one I’ve ever seen with that conclusion, which is highly unlikely. The unvaxxed fill our ICUs and morgues but the vaccinated are way more likely to get the sniffles? More likely a bad study with poor controls.

  14. Gravatar of Donna Moore Donna Moore
    19. February 2022 at 07:49

    A lot of pandemics came from animals. They killed most hunter-gatherers. Hardly new.

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