Chinese bioweapon II: Electric Boogaloo

Yikes. Despite the withdrawal of the Indian paper arguing that the Wuhan virus showed signs of engineering, the hypothesis that that it’s an escaped bioweapon looks stronger than ever.

Why do I say this? Because it looks like my previous inclination to believe the rough correctness of the official statistics – as conveyed by the Johns Hopkins tracker – was wrong. I now think the Chinese are in way deeper shit than they’re admitting.

My willingness to believe the official line didn’t stem from any credulity about what the Chinese government would do if it believed the truth wouldn’t serve. As Communists they are lying evil scum pretty much by definition, and denial would have been politically attractive for as long as they thought they could nip the pandemic in the bud. I thought their incentives had flipped and they would now be honest as a way of assisting their own countermeasures and seeking international help.

My first clue that I was wrong about that came from a friend who is plugged into the diaspora Chinese community. According to him, there is terrifying video being sent from Chinese clans to the overseas branches they planted in the West to prepare a soft landing in case they have to bail out of China. Video of streets littered with corpses. And of living victims exhibiting symptoms like St. Vitus’s Dance (aka Sydenham’s chorea), which means the virus is attacking central nervous systems.

My second clue was the Tencent leak. Read about it here; the takeaway is that there is now reason to believe that as of Feb 1st the actual coronavirus toll looked like this: confirmed cases 154023, suspected cases 79808, cured 269, deaths 24589.

Compare that with the Johns Hopkins tracker numbers for today, a week later: Confirmed cases 31207, cured 1733, deaths 638. Allowing for the Tencent leak being roughly one doubling period earlier, the official statistics have been lowballing the confirmed case number by a factor of about 8 and the deaths by a factor of about 80. And then inflating cures by a factor of about 12.

Even given what I’d heard about the video, I might have remained skeptical about the leak numbers if someone (don’t remember who or where) hadn’t pointed out that the ratio between reported cases and deaths has been suspiciously constant in the official Chinese statistics. In uncooked statistics one would expect more noise in that ratio, if only because of reporting problems.

So my present judgment, subject to change on further evidence, is that the Tencent-leak numbers are the PRC’s actual statistics. And that has a lot of grim implications.

One is that the Wuhan virus has at least a 15% fatality rate in confirmed cases – and most ways the PRC’s own statistics could be off due to reporting problems would drive it higher. Another is that containment in China has failed. Even in the cooked official statistics first derivative has not fallen; the doubling time is on the close order of five days now and may decrease.

We are already well past any even theoretical coping capability of China’s medical infrastructure. For that matter, it isn’t likely that there are enough trained medical personnel on the entire planet to get on top of a pandemic this size with a 5-day doubling time.

Which means this thing is probably not going to top out in China until it saturates the percentage of the population without natural immunity and kills at least 15% of them. The big, grim question is how many natural immunes there are. The history of past natural pandemics does not conduce to any optimism at all about that.

A very safe prediction is that a whole lot of elderly Chinese people are going to die because their immune systems are pre-compromised.

China’s population is about 1.4 billion. Conservatively, therefore, we can already expect this plague to kill more people in China than the Black Death did in Europe. At its present velocity we can expect that in about 12 doubling periods, or approximately 60 days.

Meanwhile, coronavirus spread outside China enters a critical time.

Based on what we think we know about the incubation period (about 14 days), if there’s going to be a pandemic breakout outside of China due to asymptomatic carriers, we should start to see a slope change in the overseas incidence curve during the next week. It’s been long enough for that now.

If that doesn’t happen, either the rest of the world dodged the pandemic bullet (optimistic) or the low end of the incubation period is longer than has been thought (pessimistic). On the basis of previous experience with SARS and MERS, I think the optimistic read is more likely to be correct.

Now back to the bioweapon hypothesis. Does recent data strengthen or weaken it? Consider:

* 645 Indian evacuees from Wuhan all tested negative.

* The only death outside China has been an ethnic-Chinese traveler from Wuhan.

The evidence that this virus likes to eat Han Chinese and almost ignores everybody else is mounting. That’s bioweapon-like selectivity.

One of my previous objections to the bioweapon hypothesis was that the Wuhan virus’s lethality wasn’t high enough. At 15% or higher I withdraw that objection.

And that St. Vitus’s Dance thing – coronaviruses don’t do that. But it’s exactly the kind of thing you’d engineer into a terror weapon intended not just to kill a chunk of your target population but break the morale of the rest.

Finally, my friend Phil Salkie tells me that on Google Maps the reported location of the Wuhan Institute of Virology has been jumping around like a Mexican flea. That’s guilty behavior, that is.

169 thoughts on “Chinese bioweapon II: Electric Boogaloo

  1. Well…

    http://london.sonoma.edu/Writings/StrengthStrong/invasion.html

    But seriously. (1) the confirmed case are confirmed cases – i.e. people who were tested. In numerous places people remind that Chinese had limited capacity to test people, and that capacity only recently was growing – so it was pretty much known that the real number of infected is always larger than confirmed cases (2) As you can find in another places, China always had their own way to count the deaths of flu, and people were calling to change it for some time. Here you have it explained from Chinese themselves: https://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1177725.shtml

    • >Dug this up:

      Dear Goddess. Yeah, that first sequence looks like choreal spasms all right.

      I’d have pegged it as some kind of CNS syndrome even without my friend’s report.

      • Have you seen chorea? This looks like a tonic-clonic seizure. Fever is well-known to lower seizure threshold in people with underlying disorders.

        • >Have you seen chorea?

          I have, but only about twice and it was a long time ago. You’re saying you don’t think that video looks like chorea? I don’t claim to be an expert at this sort of thing.

          We shouldn’t over-focus on the map, here. Whether or not Sydenham’s chorea is the correct label for what’s going on, multiple reports of seizures and spasms is really bad news.

        • I don’t. Compare: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wTCnbga3sqg

          About 0.25% of people have epilepsy with tonic-clonic seizures. About 1% have epilepsy (including epilepsy with other kinds of motor seizures). 2-5% of people have a seizure sometime in their adult lives, often provoked by a stressor like illness. In an outbreak of over 30,000 confirmed cases, you might expect to see hundreds of reports from these people alone. “Multiple” is not meaningful here.

          Futhermore, once you’re critically ill, all systems are involved. A bad enough respiratory infection can lead to poor oxygen saturation can lead to hypoxic brain injury. Sepsis will give you hypotension, which leads to poor oxygen saturation and poor perfusion, resulting in hypoxic-ischemic brain injury. There are your CNS symptoms, sans any CNS infection. (About a third of people with HI-BI have seizures.)

          It certainly is bad news—but it’s evidence of the size of the outbreak and the inadequacy of available care, not of bioengineering.

  2. I’ll lay my bet down that the St. Vitus’ dance will turn out to be false. My line of thought is that if it were at all common, it would be much better sourced than one dubious video.

    On the other hand, the thing that spooks me is a Chinese woman who was interviewed on the BBC. Sorry no details for when but it was a few days or a week ago. The thing is, it was like scene setting in a disaster novel. Many of her immediate relatives were sick. One had died.

    The order in which information was given was perfect. Maybe it was faked, or she just has a sense of dramatic timing. Or extreme bad luck. Or maybe the disease is very pervasive.

    • >I’ll lay my bet down that the St. Vitus’ dance will turn out to be false. My line of thought is that if it were at all common, it would be much better sourced than one dubious video.

      I’ve now seen one video featuring choreal symptoms and have a report from a reliable source of another. I think you’re going to turn out to be horribly wrong. Dammit.

      • It could be real chorea, but not from the coronavirus.

        Remember those pictures of the starving polar bear? It was a real starving polar bear, but it was one sick or injured bear, not (as it was presented) a consequence of global warming.

  3. I wouldn’t describe contemporary China as Communist. I’d call it post-Communist authoritarian or something. It doesn’t show the fantasy of controlling the whole economy the way real Communist countries do.

    It would be interesting to rank countries by the amount of lying the government does routinely.

    • >I wouldn’t describe contemporary China as Communist. I’d call it post-Communist authoritarian or something.

      Even supposing you’re correct, it doesn’t mean the Communist DNA of any deception being justified to advance the interests of the Party isn’t relevant.

      • it doesn’t mean the Communist DNA of any deception being justified to advance the interests of the Party isn’t relevant.

        From my long-ago high school years I remember a controversy over “Yellow Rain”…with some claiming it was Chinese chemical weapons possibly released by accident, and the New York Times claiming it was a health problem caused by bee droppings….I have no idea if the true stories then and now have anything in common.

  4. You want a conspiracy theory? Fine. Here is another one: what if the death rate really is faked… up? What if the real fatality ratio is not that different from normal flu, but when gossips started, someone decided it would be great occassion to (a) introduce harsh limitations on the civil liberties, the last few they have (b) kill some dissidents and claim they were flu victims (c) make a show to the population how strong the government is? (d) provide an excuse for strong control, saying “see how we handled the pandemic? It could kill millions, but PARTY saved you! In democracy such strong measures wouldn’t be possible!”

    Of course, this theory has no sense whatsoever. But same could be said about coronavirus 2019-ncov being a bioweapon.

    • >You want a conspiracy theory?

      In case it’s not obvious, my version of the bioweapon hypothesis doesn’t involve a conspiracy. Just someone at the Wuhan Institute of Virology fucking up.

      I’ll repeat that: I don’t think anyone planned this.

      • And a conspiracy to cover up/down play the consequences.

        But that’s a bog standard done all the time conspiracy, not a theory.

        • Never forget that the concept of “conspiracy theory” is literally a CIA plot to discredit reporting on its activities.

          • >Never forget that the concept of “conspiracy theory” is literally a CIA plot to discredit reporting on its activities.

            If you can point me at evidence for that claim I would very much like to read it.

            • I unfortunately did not save the references when I initially came across the claim, which was specifically that the CIA distributed talking points early in Mockingbird encouraging the use of the term “conspiracy theory” by government spokesmen to discredit inquiries by ridicule; the account cited or quoted at least one journalist from the time.

              A quick inquiry identifies Document 1035-960, which was released in response to a NYT FOIA request in the 1976 and matches the claimed pattern. I think that it’s been overhyped, particularly in the claim that the term “conspiracy theory” was actually coined by the CIA, but the curve in the Ngram records shows a very sharp takeoff in exactly the time that Mockingbird was active.

              Combined with the observation that the government intelligence apparatus is still blatantly gaslighting the public about its misdeeds (e.g., FISA abuse, the NSA backbone tapping), I have little trouble buying the claim that the agency that tried to kill Fidel Castro with a biohazard wetsuit would push a thought-terminating cliché concerning exactly the kinds of shenanigans it was up to.

            • I don’t have any specific evidence, nor am I 100% convinced it is entirely a designed meme, but consider the difference between the connotation of “conspiracy theory” and the denotation. What “ought” to be merely a neutral, descriptive term is instead a trigger for a very widespread meme program to reject whatever is being so labeled, with prejudice, and social mockery.

              It may not have been designed per se; there are some plausible mechanisms for to have developed on its own, or maybe it was something natural that was then pushed a bit. But it is, if nothing else, a thought-terminating cliche; the vast bulk of “conspiracy theories” are false, but the vast bulk of all claims are false, really.

              I think at the very least the question of “where did that connotation come from?” is an interesting question.

              • Especially since “conspirasy theory” is frequently used to dismiss allegations of any powerful person the speaker likes abusing his power even if the alleged abuse doesn’t involve him conspiring with anyone else.

      • Remember the Larry Niven view that Fermi’s Paradox is explained by the relative cheapness of genetic engineering compared to starflight. Everyone else out there already made one mistake.

      • This is precisely how Captain Trips spread, in The Stand. Not a deliberate release, just a mistake here and there, and then a guard who broke quarantine thinking he was saving his family (but instead spreading the plague to the rest of humanity).

    • On the contrary, this theory has a lot of sense. I’ve been reading the blog of a Russian researcher working in China, and basically he tells that the infection is used as an excuse for extreme control over population. There are pickets on the street intersections that check and register everyone coming and going, and the same at all the offices. People in the West have been saying that the control in the Uighur region is extreme and totalitarian, and condemning China for that. But now China had implemented an even more totalitarian control, and the West applauds it rather than condemns it, because of a convenient excuse. This is a perfect way to root out the dissidents and “tighten the nuts”. Given that the Chinese leader has been targeting a revival of communism, this is happening at a very convenient time for him.

      BTW, that expat doesn’t report people dead in the street or anything like that (but then again, he is not in Wuhan).

    • Even if the disease is natural, they’re going to use it as an excuse to do those things anyway. “Let no crisis go to waste.”

  5. OK. Let’s assume for a second this is in fact an escaped bioweapon, or just an escaped sample. Now what? The one thing I’m pretty sure of is that if any kind of really irrefutable evidence surfaces, the West couldn’t just let it go, no matter what their own politicians might prefer.

    • Once again: let’s assume for a second that indeed, this is a bioweapon. Why assume it’s a bioweapon created by Chinese, and not against Chinese (which was stolen and then escaped from BSL-4 facility in Wuhan).

      • Does anyone know the relationship between this strain and the one the Chinese stole from Canada a while back?

      • 1) The PRC isn’t baying for blood.
        2) If this is man made, it’s almost certainly negligence rather than malice. It’s not *that* effective.
        3) There’s been no followup.
        4) You don’t deploy a WMD against a nuclear power unless you’re absolutely sure they won’t be in a position to retaliate.
        5) The PRC is still in full coverup mode. Now, granted, it’s their default MO, but if there was a chance to blame someone else, they probably would.

        • I think szopen is suggesting an accidental release by the Chinese still.

          Basically the proposed timeline is:

          1. Xlandia develops a bioweapon that specifically targets Han.
          2. Chinese intelligence steals a sample from a Xlandian lab.
          3. The Chinese send the sample to Wuhan to research counter-measures.
          4. The Wuhan lab releases the sample by accident.
          5. People start dying.

          Which, to me, seems more likely than the Chinese developing a bioweapon that specifically targets Han themselves.

          And if true this puts the Chinese in the awkward position of not being able to scream for Xlandian blood without admitting that they (the Chinese) where the ones who released the virus into the Chinese population.

          I’m not an expert on Chinese politics, but based on what other people have been saying I’d guess that such an admission would almost guarantee the fall of the current Chinese government.

          • The question remains. In my mind, the fact that a bioweapon was developed and escaped is as important as who actually developed it. What are the geopolitical repercussions?

            • Well, if the current Chinese government falls as a result of this the new Chinese government or governments won’t have the same motivation to not start screaming for Xlandian blood.

              Which could make for some awkward geopolitics. I’d certainly start feeling nervous if I found out tomorrow that 2019nCoV was developed in an Australian lab.

          • Where “fall” is read as “(into shallow graves after getting one bullet to the back of the head)”.

          • >Which, to me, seems more likely than the Chinese developing a bioweapon that specifically targets Han themselves.

            I suppose another possibility is the virus was created in China, but not at the request/direction of the CCP. For example, a non-Han researcher employed at the lab with an ethnic grievance.

            U.S. racial politics tends to treat all Chinese as being the same (or worse, all “Asians”). I doubt that narrative really reflects reality.

      • I have no idea how plausible the bioweapon idea is, but it seems more likely to me that an Asian-targeted bioweapon would be targeted *at* China instead of developed by China. And if you were wanting to shut down Chinese ability to research the virus effectively, maybe hitting a city with a virology institute that specializes in coronaviruses and has a BSL4 lab wouldn’t be a bad strategy.

        I’m skeptical of this story overall–I suspect it’s just a bat virus that jumped to people and there’s some covering up by various Chinese officials trying to either stem panic or cover their own asses. But it’s still interesting speculation.

        • I have seen the hypothesis that the lab was testing not specific mechanisms for lethality, but generalized ways of making viruses better bioweapons, and that the experimental subjects they had access to were Chinese prisoners. Consequently, the study of techniquest to create more lethal bioweapons have created a bioweapon targeted to people genetically like the subjects.

          If bioweapon research in general is not to the point that there’s some scientist somewhere who can basically scribble down a gene sequence to target a specific race with a deadly disease, which seems plausible, meaning that real research may be focused on generalized techniques rather than specific already-known attacks, this at least seems plausible in combination with the other factors mentioned (China isn’t even trying to blame anyone else in particular).

      • Why assume it’s a bioweapon created by Chinese, and not against Chinese[?]

        The OP doesn’t make this explicit, but a couple of comments mention it: Han Chinese comprises about 70% of the population of Taiwan. Which happens to also be an island.

        The problem with the theory that this is an anti-Taiwan bioweapon is that there have been zero deaths in Taiwan, despite all the Han Chinese there. But this might not mean anything, given that the death rate is still only about 1 in 40 in mainland China. Taiwan reports only 18 cases so far.

        What’s weird so far is Japan having zero deaths as well, out of 163 cases. One would expect there to be maybe four, minus one or two because the cases are relatively new.

  6. There is an alternate hypothesis that sounds as viable as the bioweapon one, which is that it’s escaped research from the lab trying to find a vaccine or cure for an entire category of coronavirus, and this was one sample they were working with or engineered as a target virus.

    • Exactly. The hypotheses which assumes stupidity and negligence combining with typical “we want good” attitude, without assuming malicious things. I’d say taht would fit much better communist and totalitarian mindset than “let’s make bioweapon mostly targeting chinese people”.

      • >Exactly. The hypotheses which assumes stupidity and negligence combining with typical “we want good” attitude, without assuming malicious things. I’d say taht would fit much better communist and totalitarian mindset than “let’s make bioweapon mostly targeting chinese people”.

        Whoa there. I’m willing to assume incompetence rather than malice in this case, but that’s hardly an indulgence Communists should be granted in general. Gulag archipelagos do not get built out of innocent error.

        • Well, yes; but I grew up in communist country and the thing is that this system does not select for ideologues, but for boring apparatchiks skillful at saying appropriate things and other opportunistic lowlifes. Obviously, there are exceptions and obviously, I’m could be plain wrong in this, but my impression, based on what I’ve read and saw in my country, is that the first generation would kill evil kulaks in thousands because it’s necessary for the bright future. The third generation just does not care whether you live or not.

          • That doesn’t match my experience. In the 1980s in the USSR people were still enthusiastic about killing kulaks. That’s one of the reasons why racketeering became so widespread once the first “cooperative” businesses were allowed.

            • Any time one group is given an excuse to kill another group, they’re going to be enthusiastic about it, because one-sided murder is fun. That’s a human thing, not a communism thing.

          • ‘Human Rights’, ‘Good Science’, and ‘Industrial Safety’ are ideological positions.

            Caveat, I’m basically disinterested in the life sciences, and the applications of biotech I would least dislike are weapons.

            So that may be biasing things when I try to game out how a PRC born life scientist might decide which country they want to do their work in, and how the desire for a specific kind of work might impact that.

            US will make you pay lip service to human rights, and while the EU doesn’t really care, the kind of crazy the EU leadership has is not the sort to fund bio weapons research. EU also makes you pay lip service to industrial safety.

            Now, there are reasons to want to work in the PRC that have nothing to do with wanting to work without your hands being tied by human rights and industrial safety. Cultural familiarity, or being so accustomed to the Gu jar that you have no desire for freedom, and getting away from it all.

            Personally, I only object to sentencing criminals to death by experimentation on ‘Good Science’ grounds. Criminals tend to have mental and drug problems that make them a bad sample for medical purposes. So, in theory I disagree with some of the US restrictions on criminal handling. In practice, when the restrictions are too loose they attract malicious idiots who spend human lives carelessly.

            There definitely could be malicious scientists working for the PRC. I’m not sure if funding in the PRC is scientist proposed, or totally dictated by the government. If scientist proposed, approval is the sort of thing a communist regime would centralize, and run past high level political animals. Those people also might be malicious, or so ignorant of the technical risks that they might as well be ignorant.

            ‘Nobody cares’ is not a reason why a communist regime would not fund a scientist who wants to work on bioweapons. It is a reason why people who might in another nation be able to stop that research would not.

        • It seems to me that when Communist regimes are massively, inhumanly evil, it’s typically down to one or a few total psychopaths in a position of absolute power. Stalin and Mao are, of course, the paradigm cases here, but most of the world’s worst Communist regimes seem to follow this pattern. (The same seems true of fascist regimes; Franco, Mussolini and Hitler can reasonably be lumped together under some criteria, but only Hitler achieved the level of insane psychotic evil.)

          When Communist regimes are not run by utter psychopaths, they seem to generally be bad, but only an order or so worse than the worst of Western bureaucratic/regulatory overreach. The Soviet Union post Stalin was just an extremely dysfunctional and corrupt big empire; its failing seem much more explicable by ordinary human evil and failing than the massive atrocity under Stalin’s reign.

          • > (The same seems true of fascist regimes; Franco, Mussolini and Hitler can reasonably be lumped together under some criteria

            Mussolini and Hitler were both socialists. Franco was not.

            Which doesn’t mean he was a particularly nice guy (he wasn’t).

  7. The rulers of China have a huge demographic problem as a natural and obvious result of decades of their One Child policy. IF (really big if) this was engineered it could be their desperate solution to having so many men with no possibility of Han brides without a war.

    Do we have male/female infection and/or fatality rates or just raw numbers?

    • The paranoid reading could plausibly be that they don’t want too few young people supporting too many old people.

    • They were already doing a much safer and more profitable disposal method for surplus males:

      Sending them to Africa as part of the economic colonization effort.

      • >Sending them to Africa as part of the economic colonization effort.

        Yeah, that’s not going to work very well, because Chinese men won’t interest the local women – not south of the Sahara anyway. With unusual exceptions, they don’t read as sufficiently male – SSA female limbic systems just don’t light up. And if you export your horny young men to where most of them can’t pull women with peaceful behavior, you get a whole range of problems that are likely to make you wish you had stayed home or at least colonized somewhere with more receptive women.

        If you’re really lucky, your boys just get vicious tropical STDs like chancroids because hookers are the only local women who will touch them. If you’re really unlucky your boys go feral and take what they want until the natives start killing them and you have a violent insurrection on your hands. There are precedents for both extreme outcomes in Africa. The intermediate cases aren’t much fun either.

          • >But they have MONEY. That fires up the female limbic system alright.

            When you have a serious mismatch in sexual signaling that gets less effective for anyone but hookers. I’m not merely theorizing; the kinds of problems I’m talking about have been observed in the wild, notably during various attempts to import cheap East Asian labor by European colonialists.

            • Interracial marriages between Chinese and Africans are apparently on the rise, as have complaints by African women being abandoned by their Chinese lovers after getting pregnant…
              So it appears that the attraction is there anyway.
              Nature likes to mix genes. Which is why mixed couples are so common everywhere nowadays.

            • The “cheap Asian labor” is the opposite of having money. Put “Asian millionaire” or “Asian prince” instead, and there will be plenty of signaling. In USSR there were a surprising number of girls who married the African or Arabian “princes” who studies in the USSR.

              For another example, look at Putin, does he look like much? But lot and lots of women see him as an archetype of attractiveness, because he has power and money.

              • >look at Putin, does he look like much?

                I’m not sure male fashion models are the proper point of comparison here.

                That said, I’ve been surprised at how many ‘child reading’ men Hollywood casts as leads nowadays. I can’t explain it.

        • ‘Don’t read as sufficiently male’ sounds like a wheat-eating Chinese describing the rice-bellies.

  8. To really make the case for it being a bio-engineered weapon, you need to identify facts that are likely it was a coronavirus, but unlikely otherwise. I don’t think any of your claims meet this criteria.

    I think your evidence is as follows:

    1. It originated in Wuhan, home of the lab that China built after SARS embarrassingly escaped from a previous lab.

    Wuhan is a large city which it is reasonably likely to start a natural outbreak. Conversely, we have no reason to believe WIV is the likely location of bio-weapon research. The Chinese built it for mundane reasons and could easily host bio-weapons research in a facility we don’t even know exists.

    2. It appears to be specifically adapted to Han Chinese

    Well, it evolved among Han Chinese so should be well adapted to them. It probably has no significant evolutionary experience outside Han Chinese people yet.

    Conversely, there is no good reason for China to want an anti Han Chinese bio-weapon. Even if they were targeting Taiwan, a non racially preferenced virus would be just as good.

    Aside: It’s reasonably plausible in the process of trying to make a Han immune virus, they made a Han targeting one.

    3. The paper

    It’s been retracted in non-suspicious circumstances.

    4. The PRC is intentionally covering up the scale and lethality of the outbreak

    Isn’t this default behaviour for the PRC? Cover up and downplay to prevent panic and suppress political opposition. Even if it it isn’t in their interest in this case, institutional norms are slow to adapt.

    5. The location of the WIV is moving on Google Maps

    I have no clue, but here is some speculation.

    I don’t know how Google Maps obtains it’s info on locations of businesses. I do know, however, that it does get a lot of info from people using Google Maps. Interest in the WIV has spiked recently outside of China, presumably resulting in more data for the AI. This could have resulted in instability in the listing. The WIV have no control over their Google Maps listing due to great firewall, so data is likely to be bad.

    Has Phil Salkie checked whether the changes are simply switching between WGS-84, GCJ-02 and possibly BD-09?. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Restrictions_on_geographic_data_in_China

    • I was wondering the same thing. China requires map makers to algorithmically mess up their maps of China so that they’re just a little off in unpredictable ways, therefore enhancing their national security because, I guess, they figure cruise missiles can’t be adapted to the mismatch.

      Half as Interesting – Why Every Map of China is Just Slightly Wrong
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L9Di-UVC-_4

      (the video is merely 5m long; quite interesting)

  9. One video I watched discussed that the ACE-2 targeting doesn’t necessarily mean that it was targeting those in Asia. ACE-2 is in everyone, but it is expressed to a greater degree in smokers, and 48% of men in China smoke. Given that the sample size of that initial paper was only 8, and the one that said that ACE-2 is over-expressed in smokers is only 221 population size, these aren’t the most well vetted of papers though.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GT3_A1bf9pU This channel has been a good source of info. I’m not sure that he’s entirely correct though in comparing cases outside of China though, since it’s had a lot less time to work on people outside China.

  10. About the numbers being faked: Johns Hopkins reports the following deaths by date:
    2/7. 638
    2/6. 565
    2/5. 492
    2/4. 427
    2/3. 362
    2/2. 305
    2/1. 259

    That’s two 73-person jumps in a row (2/7 & 2/6), two 65-person jumps (2/5 & 2/6), two 46-person jumps (2/2 & 2/1).

    Sounds fake to me.

  11. Let’s pick this up from the other end. How much tech would it take to engineer the coronavirus? Can we make good estimates of who has that tech?

    • Contrary to popular belief, you don’t really “engineer” a virus in the traditional sense of engineering. Researchers start with an existing strain of coronavirus (which is always somewhat variable and typically incorporates millions of specimens) and then modifies it’s DNA using techniques that are approximate at best. Then you let it stew (grow) for while, sample the end-product, and attempt to measure and evaluate what you got. Think of it as writing a few thousand lines of code and then doing a test drive to see if it matched your intention. Biochemistry is just as buggy as coding, so yes, be very worried.

      • This sounds like it’s not wildly different from naturally evolved viruses, and possibly less likely to be dangerous.

        • Some viruses dont, some viruses do have DNA. The Corona viruses are RNA viruses, they do not have DNA.

          However, when engineering viruses, it could be useful to use a complement DNA strand to work on, and then convert it back to RNA for packaging. Some viruses use this route themselves, e.g., the HIV (which allows them to incorporate and hide in human DNA).

          However, the Corona virus replicates directly from RNA in vivo.

          (information from Wikipedia)

  12. Assume that the virus does indeed target only Han Chinese at present, either through an accident of evolution or because it is a deliberately designed bioweapon. How concerned should the rest of us be? How likely is it that the virus will mutate to infect other ethnicities and that 15% of the world population will die in the next few years?

    • >How likely is it that the virus will mutate to infect other ethnicities and that 15% of the world population will die in the next few years?

      Unknown. Except that if this sort of jump were not very rare, global pandemics would be scars written all over human history in a pretty unmistakable way.

      • >>>global pandemics would be scars written all over human history in a pretty unmistakable way.

        Except that history does not include the level of connectedness that the world now, um, enjoys.

        • The “Spanish” flu started out as a local virus in Army camps in Kansas during the military buildup in WW1. The fascist Wilson regime hid this and denied it happened allowing the virus to be spread all over the US, Canada and Europe by asymptomatic soldiers deploying to the western front. From there soldiers from India, Africa, and Indochina spread it to Asia.
          The world was a LOT less interconnected then.

          • Even at that, pandemics that whack 15% of the affected population are pretty rare in any case. Spanish Flu’s death toll was so high because – despite the relatively low interconnectedness – a huge percentage of people got sick, not because the case fatality rate was extremely high. (It was higher than typical seasonal influenza, but nowhere near 15%; more like 3% IIRC)

          • There’s good evidence that I’ve seen documented out there that the so-called Spanish Flu actually spread from Canada into the American Midwest from a large group of Chinese laborers that were transported across Canada just before the epidemic started–Who happened to come directly from the hotbed of Southern China, and who were transported across Canada in secrecy:

            https://nationalpost.com/news/canada/spanish-flu-the-pandemic-that-killed-50-million-started-in-china-but-may-have-spread-via-canada-historian-says

            The lesson to be taken from all of this is that government secrecy kills, no matter which government is keeping it all to themselves. Odds are that the Spanish Influenza epidemic would have been greatly reduced had the fact that the Chinese Labor Corps members were sick with something at the ports of Canada, and not been allowed transit without quarantine taking place. As it was, millions died.

            China’s south is a hotbed of disease production because of the style of agriculture they practice, living cheek-by-jowl with ducks and pigs. Then, there’s the habit Chinese have of wanting fresh exotic wild game in their diets, which means that they’re constantly bringing in new zoonotic diseases.

            It might not be a bad idea to work on changing that, but the disease itself might be doing that for us.

  13. My general thought here is that, while CCP official numbers are notoriously faked and shouldn’t be believed, “leaks” that come through Internet rumors — especially only one or a few sources — are if anything even more notoriously faked. So while it seems very likely the Chinese numbers are still wrong, I don’t think we have any source of much more reliable data from within China.

    Until we get much better information — from some non-CCP official agency, or leaked and widely corroborated, or similar — I don’t think we can make very good qualitative guesses as to how bad it is. It’s almost certainly much worse than CCP statistics say; I don’t think we have any good way to know how much worse.

      • In the game of reliability, I’ll see your Twitter feed and raise you one Simone:

        “My best friend’s sister’s boyfriend’s brother’s girlfriend heard from this guy who knows this kid who’s going with a girl who saw Ferris pass-out at 31 Flavors last night. I guess it’s pretty serious.”

    • >Honestly, this reminds me of a bunch of survivalists drinking beer and scaring each other.

      It shouldn’t. Part of the point of my post is that I don’t think people who are both non-Han and outside of China have much to fear yet. Our worst consequence looks like industrial supply-chain disruption, not megadeaths.

  14. Whats -NOT- faked is that there around 114 million people currently under extreme quarantine. You do NOT do that for deaths in the mid 600’s… thats only done if’n theres a ‘metric f*ckton o’carcasses’ that’re gonna go ‘public’ if’n they don’t lock down waaaay quick. I also did some research trying to find intel on potential “carcass removal issues” and did the following Blog (w/ Subsequent Follow ups) Make of it what you will.

    https://bigcountryexpatoriginal.blogspot.com/2020/02/an-idea-thatd-tell-lot-and-numbers.html

  15. “A very safe prediction is that a whole lot of elderly Chinese people are going to die because their immune systems are pre-compromised.”

    This CCP may not mind this. China has been staring down the serious demographic issue of it is becoming old before it is becoming rich (thanks’ “One Child Policy”). Not saying this was on purpose, or even that it it was man made and escaped, but if it happens to kill a large swath of older Chinese it helps remove that societal pressure.

  16. Wired got it nicely explained:
    It’s the Black Death all over again. But now the Chinese are blamed.

    https://www.wired.com/story/coronavirus-conspiracy-theories/

    What this primarily shows is the gullibility of people. If you “Trust no one” you end up falling for every scam and hoax. The OP is a good example of this.

    It would be funny, if it wouldn’t be the case that fake conspiracy theories kill real people. The Black Death was an example of that too.

    • No, It’s called critical thinking.

      Try working backwards and ask yourself whether the following qualities of nCov-2019 would make a good bioweapon,

      1. Asymptomatic transfer (both before and after symptoms)
      2. High transmissibility (R0 > 4)
      3. Significant complication risk (around 20% of cases require go to a hospital)
      4. Long incubation time (allowing spreading in a population before a significant response is required)
      5. aerosolizable
      6. Lasts days, maybe even weeks on surfaces.

      That’s not even including the circumstantial evidence. Patient 0 never went to that market. The scientists expelled from Canada under mysterious circumstances. etc.

      Of course, we should always trust the corporate media (Operation Mockingbird anyone!)

      • >6. Lasts days, maybe even weeks on surfaces.

        Doesn’t match my understanding. The only claim I’ve seen about this is that the virus is not very persistent.

        I think “Asymptomatic transfer (both before and after symptoms)” is also questionable at this point.

        Pointers to evidence would be welcomed.

      • Working backwards, ignoring evidence, we can prove that the Jews caused the Black Death.

        Looking at the evidence, we see a zoonozis outbreak like SARS and MERS. Journalists repatriated from Wuhan have driven unhampered through Wuhan and did not see anything like what you claim.

        The eternal question comes up again: Who should I believe, eye witnesses who do their stories first hand and scientists who have a track record in these diseases. Or should I believe anonymous people from the Internet repeating wild stories from hear-say?

        I know your choice. I make my own.

        • “Working backwards, ignoring evidence, we can prove that the Jews caused the Black Death.”

          Appeal to ridicule is not an argument

          “Looking at the evidence, we see a zoonozis outbreak like SARS and MERS. Journalists repatriated from Wuhan have driven unhampered through Wuhan and did not see anything like what you claim.”

          The chances of animal to human transfer is small. The chances that a virus would be hyper-virulent on the first try even smaller. Natural outbreaks need time to evolve.

          “The eternal question comes up again: Who should I believe, eye witnesses who do their stories first hand and scientists who have a track record in these diseases. Or should I believe anonymous people from the Internet repeating wild stories from hear-say?”

          All the evidence I provided is well established. Do a google of the evidence yourself. The story you originally provided is ridiculous and fact free. I provided some starting places in another comment. My main purpose to commenting on your post was your claim that someone who believes that it is a bioweapon is “gullible”. I am merely providing evidence and a rational to the contrary.

          • “The chances of animal to human transfer is small. The chances that a virus would be hyper-virulent on the first try even smaller.”

            Still we get a new one every year. Influenza, Ebola, SARS, MERS, AIDS, Wartburg are all zoonozis. Every infectious disease of importance started out as a zoonozis.

            So, here we already see that you have missed a very important part of the discussion. Which makes all your arguments besides the point.

            • I’m glad that people with your peculiar blinkered mentality are not trusted to tackle these kinds of situations.
              Blathering online is the worst you can do. Mercifully.

  17. The suspicious similarity in numbers I saw was here: https://twitter.com/jenniferatntd/status/1225404722380787712

    Problem is, those numbers are fake. If you actually divide the numbers given, only three of the eight are 2.1%. The range is from 2.180% on the high end down to 1.972% on the low end. It wobbles both up and down, as well. And the sample sizes are large enough that the numbers staying in that (fairly small) range are plausible – if you assume a true mortality rate* of 2.1% and random outcomes, the numbers falling between 2.0% and 2.2% are pretty likely. For each day, the chance of being in that range by chance is at least 47%, up to 76% at the later days with bigger sample sizes.

    * – Since death is not instant upon diagnosis, this is not going to be the actual mortality rate. But if we assume clean exponential growth of the disease, and a flat mortality rate, you can get the adjusted mortality rate you’d expect to see mid-crisis. (As a toy example, a disease that kills 10% of people a day after diagnosis, and doubles daily, will show mid-crisis mortality of 5%, because it’s killing 10% of yesterday’s crop.)

    Now to be clear, the numbers could still be fake. I could generate plausible fake data in twenty minutes, as long as I could be sure nobody was going to have access to the actual evidence. But the “suspiciously flat numbers” did not actually look suspicious to me upon analysis. You would expect spread rates to fall somewhat over time (quarantine and survivor’s immunity will set in, even if the medical system is overwhelmed), and a 2% mid-crisis mortality probably means high single digit true mortality, which is still pretty scary. (Half the odds of Russian roulette is still pretty nasty odds).

    I don’t think we need to assume bio-engineering here, nor that it’s going to out-do the Black Death. Not because I have any great faith in the Chinese government, but because things are rarely as bad as they look mid-crisis.

  18. Read an article today about a doctor in Wuhan who had to deal with a bunch of meddlesome party bureaucrats telling the various hospitals in the city what they could and couldn’t use as diagnostic criteria, because it “wasn’t contagious between people”. This doctors’ hospital implemented fairly aggressive contagion measures though and prevented a lot of deaths when reality prevailed. Doesn’t strike me as “bioweapon coverup”, just the sort of reflexive lies bureaucrats tell up and down the chain to try to pretend things are better than they are.

    Apparently the hospitals are having trouble sourcing protective garments and cleaning supplies – the article claimed the doctors were working 12 hour shifts without food or breaks so they didn’t have to take off their suits/masks (at which point they need to destroy them). Any suggestions for charity? Seems like good can be done early, before this escapes all over the world – and a lack of gloves and facemasks is a pretty tragic shortage leading to loss of lives right now.

    Also, in other news, Facebook has decided to “ban misinformation” about coronavirus – seems to me like the Western version of sticking your fingers in your ears and trying to change the world through pretending. I place very low likelihood on “bioweapon”, personally, and believe there is a lot of sensationalism out there – but if Facebook is going to aggressively crack down on it, that’s about the only thing I weigh as evidence in favor at this point. :-/

  19. While we’re comparing conspiracy theories, here’s a doozy for you. A random internet user compiled sulfur dioxide plume data, wind data, and local anecdotes (about crematoria running 24/7 beyond full capacity) to claim the Chinese burned 13,000+ bodies in a field just outside Wuhan.

    This is from 4chan, and reposted in /r/conspiracy , so take it as it is. The associated discussion of why 4chan graphics look absurd is quite funny.

    https://i.redd.it/88osl54prjf41.png

    https://old.reddit.com/r/conspiracy/comments/f0ewha/4chan_user_finds_evidence_of_over_13k_bodies/

    • While SO2 might well indicate biological origin, I do recall someone suggesting it might be nothing more than higher-sulfur coal being used when lower-sulfur coal is unavailable or not being shipped in.

    • >From the pros. Sounds like they agree with our host more than disagree.

      This is one of those cases where modeling the problem is so easy that the experts don’t have that large an advantage over an informed layperson. That is, those guys know more about – say – coronavirus biochemistry – but they don’t know that much more than me about the propagation statistics of pandemics because there isn’t much there to know. An exponential curve is a brutally simple thing.

      In situations like this, the main quality you need to look prescient is not more information, but a steely willingness to look unpleasant extrapolations in the face and not blink.

      That said, we’re now 4 days into the 7 I identified as the critical takeoff period if transmission by asymptomatic carriers is an effective disease vector outside Han Chinese populations. I am feeling guardedly optimistic. If we go another three days with the incidence curve flat, I will start breathing more easily.

      If we go another ten days, bullet dodged. China will be in hell but the rest of the world should be able to cope via normal measures.

      (Normal measures, however, should probably include quarantining all human travelers from China for 14 or more days until the plague burns out.)

      • > That said, we’re now 4 days into the 7 I identified as the critical takeoff period if transmission by asymptomatic carriers is an effective disease vector outside Han Chinese populations. I am feeling guardedly optimistic. If we go another three days with the incidence curve flat, I will start breathing more easily.

        Some experts aren’t feeling so optimistic.
        https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2020/02/harvard-expert-says-coronavirus-likely-just-gathering-steam/

        Personally, I’m hoping he’s wrong. And in the mean time, I continue to wash my hands and give berth to those who appear to be suffering from respiratory illness.

  20. Something else of note:

    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/07/health/coronavirus-patients.html?

    Toward the end, they comment on the male/female ratio of infection in this study. It looks pretty even, for such a small population.

    Unlike some earlier reports, the new one did not find many more men than women to be infected: 54 percent of the patients were male.

    The rest of the article is pretty much stuff I think we’ve all heard … none of it really good.

    One final thing, it mentions a second study doen in Bejing which was fewer and younger patients, and none of them died. I’m not sure about the Han Chinese comments above, but this certainly doesn’t dispell that notion.

  21. How stupid would it be to generate a bioweapon without first having a vaccine against it?? especially one evidently adapted to your own population??! And before jumping on the bioweapon cart, look at the epidemiology for the 1918 flu.

    Coronavirus alone may not cause neurosymptoms, but it may possibly result when the subject is also infected with coccidia (probably endemic in much of China), or with a secondary virus. We see this in puppies sometimes, where they aren’t otherwise ill (corona in dogs just causes ‘chocolate syrup’ stools) but develop a polio-like spasming and lack of motor control. It seems to happen more often when there is a lot of exposure to parvovirus, and iffy parvo immunity as from the older vaccines, so the puppy may be fighting that off as well. In short, the actual cause of the neuro issues is coccidia, but the virus can be the trigger.

    And as someone else mentioned, high fever can cause neuro symptoms.

    While I don’t believe any numbers coming from China about anything, might be that Tencent initially posted numbers for all deaths from all causes, which would also be an ooops.

    • > How stupid would it be to generate a bioweapon without first having a vaccine against it?? especially one evidently adapted to your own population??!

      Would you not first have to have your bioweaon pathogen before you could create a vaccine for it? Of all the vaccines I can think of, rabies, polio, HPV, etc, the pathogen came first. So as far as I can tell, one does not create a vaccine, and then engineer a pathogen that succumbs to immunity produced by that vaccine. Rather, one isolates a pathogen, and then starts working on a vaccine for it.

      Yes, it would absolutely be stupid to deliberately release a bioweapon before having a vaccine, but recall that it is not our host’s assertion that 2019-nCOV was deliberately released. His assertion, rather, is that 2019-nCOV it is an escaped prototype. If the bioweapon that 2019-nCOV was intended to become was not yet complete, then any vaccine for it would also be incomplete at best.

      Now, bioweapon or not, I have little doubt that China has upped the priority on researching a vaccine. It’s in the interest of the CCP to get a vaccine produced, if for no other reason than to make sure the top ranking members of the ruling party are protected.

  22. Food for thought. One of the big headaches for the authorities in the Chernobyl aftermath was that by 1986, not a single Soviet citizen with a functioning brain believed a word from the government. Even when they started telling the truth (mostly), it was ignored, hampering mitigation efforts.

  23. As Communists they are lying evil scum pretty much by definition

    China is less communist than America. “Communism with Chinese characteristics” means, “We’re going to stop being communist now, but please don’t hurt us Mr. State Department man.”

    I thought their incentives had flipped and they would now be honest as a way of assisting their own countermeasures and seeking international help.

    Orientals are still well stuck in pride. They will move heaven and earth to hide anything embarrassing. Indeed other orientals expect them to, meaning if they don’t it’s assumed to be because they can’t, thus it’s doubly embarrassing.

    For a while there occidentals had the opposite dynamic, where false reporting was the sign of weakness. If you can’t let an independent observer in, you must have something to hide, right? In case you weren’t sure, Iowa has demonstrated this era is over, but some occidental institutions haven’t gotten the memo yet.

    The above dynamic also figured into the ‘Chinese characteristics’ thing. By not admitting they’ve largely stopped being communist, they don’t have to admit that being communist in the first place was immensely stupid.

    Any kind of plague is embarrassing, because occidentals haven’t had a plague in, what, 100 years? It looks downright…African. It’s even possible that government food safety regulations have a positive effect, bizarrely enough.

    I might have remained skeptical about the leak numbers if someone (don’t remember who or where) hadn’t pointed out that the ratio between reported cases and deaths has been suspiciously constant in the official Chinese statistics.

    https://mobile.twitter.com/evdefender/status/1223899265245696000?p=p
    “The mortality rate they want you to report is the – 0 day rate: Today’s Confirmed Death total minus Today’s Confirmed Case total. This has not varied outside of 1/10th of 1% in the last 5 prints.”

    Finally, my friend Phil Salkie tells me that on Google Maps the reported location of the Wuhan Institute of Virology has been jumping around like a Mexican flea. That’s guilty behavior, that is.

    The highly pride-conscious, such as orientals, have a lot of trouble responding calmly to rumours. It’s an obvious rumour to start and frankly if they were going to try to shut it down with ‘facts’ they should have thought of it themselves and started earlier.

    Even Chicoms realize that their heavy-handed censorship is not ideal and wish to be more elegant where possible.
    http://esr.ibiblio.org/?p=8587#comment-2357264:

    Even when they started telling the truth (mostly), it was ignored, hampering mitigation efforts.

    Likewise the Chicoms can’t suddenly start suppressing embarrassing rumours with facts. Their options are lying or [you’re not allowed to say that].

  24. The thing is, if you go away from Wuhan there are next to zero deaths.

    Even if you ignore the lack of death reports from the rest of the PRC, there ought, by now to be deaths elsewhere. It’s been a couple of months since the first cases. Thousands, if not millions, of people have been to Wuhan and then left and travelled to foreign countries. Given the 14 day incubation period we should be seeing more fatalities if it really is deadly.

    We aren’t seeing that. We’re seeing infections and infected people infecting others (there’s a chain from Singapore to France (via the UK) for example) but the victims aren’t in hospitals suffering from pneumonia or similar. The two deaths outside the PRC are, I believe, both Chinese people who travelled while suffering.

    And, unless you claim that Japanese are ethnically very separate from Han Chinese, you’d think that some of the Japanese victims would be on deaths door by now as it’s been about two weeks since they were first infected. Instead what we’re seeing outside Wuhan is people being infected, some of whom display pneumonia symptoms (eventually) but none of whom seem to be dangerously ill.

    It will be interesting to see how things play out on the Diamond Princess. As of an hour tr two ago there were 136 infected people (out of some 3700) of various ages and nationalities and none of whom, not even the elderly Japanese, are reported to be in an ICU or equivalent. They are just being kept in isolation wards in hospitals but nothing more than that.

    My hypothesis is that there is something else in Wuhan that has helped make the virus worse and that when the virus is away from that it is far less deadly. No idea what that is, exposure to specific chemicals? some specific weakening of the lungs thanks to a particular pollutant?

    • >And, unless you claim that Japanese are ethnically very separate from Han Chinese

      They are. While one of the two main ancestral populations that mixed to form the modern Japanese (the Yayoi) may have had roots in what is now China, they would have left before the Han arrived from the north to displace the indigenes. So the “Chinese” DNA in Japan is mainly pre-Han, probably related to other populations pushed south and marginalized by the Han invasion. The Japanese also have significant admixture from Austronesians not present in the Han.

      Having visited both Taiwan and Japan I seldom have any trouble telling them apart. I think most people who have traveled in Asia would agree.

      • > Having visited both Taiwan and Japan I seldom have any trouble telling
        > them apart. I think most people who have traveled in Asia would agree.

        FWIW I live in Japan. And I partly agree. The big difference is in movement and body language (and clothing). There are some physical types that are common and others that aren’t. In other words while usually I can immediately tell whether a person is Japanese or Chinese I’m not sure it’s pure genetic body type that I’m using to tell the difference.at all
        en the
        To go back to the virus. We’re also not seeing deaths in Taiwan, Singapore or Hong Kong. Now HK could possibly be being censored, but there’s no way Taiwan would be covering stuff up and I doubt Singapore is either.

        I think this week is make or break for whether it is deadly outside China/Wuhan. If w’re still at near 0 deaths or seriously ill next Monday then it’s a China only problem and we have to figure out if the cause of deadliness is genetic or environmental.

        I note that while many foreigners have left Wuhan, there are still plenty there. There’s probably enough of both that some of each should have been infected so we have control groups

        • As of yesterday, HK has had one, and today they reported that most of their infections (about 60 IIRC) are locals infected from (they suspect) travelers returned after business trips, etc.

        • >The Japanese look slightly more “European” to me, probably because of Ainu admixture:

          The great untold story of Japanese population genetics is that their Ainu admixture is stratified, with the descendants of the old samurai class having the most Ainu DNA and lower castes like eta having the least.

          This contradicts popular Japanese mythology, according to which the Ezo (historical name of the Ainu) were an inferior people who were only subdued. The Japanese geneticist who discovered the stratification thinks it accounts for Samurai-class Japanese tending to be taller and have more facial hair than other Japanese.

          • Interesting. I thought the Samurai developed from mercenaries hired by the older Kuge aristocracy. So that suggests that either people with more Ainu ancestry were more likely to become mercenaries. Or possibly, since the Samurai were sent to fight the Emishi and Ainu, they were more likely to also interbreed with them.

    • And now it seems that 4 infected passengers from the Diamond Princess are in ICU

      An additional 39 people on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship off the Japan coast have tested positive for the new coronavirus, Japanese health minister Katsunobu Kato said on Wednesday (Feb 12), bringing the total to 174.

      “Out of 53 new test results, 39 people were found positive,” he told reporters, adding that a quarantine official had also been infected with the virus.

      He added: “At this point, we have confirmed that four people, among those who are hospitalised, are in a serious condition, either on a ventilator or in an intensive care unit.”

      https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/east-asia/39-more-on-board-japan-cruise-ship-have-coronavirus-bringing-total-to-174

  25. Found this at https://bitterwinter.org/the-human-price-of-wuhans-military-world-games/. In late October 2019, Wuhan was the host to the Military World Games. At least some parts of the city were “beautified” prior, with factories shut down, power shut off in areas, residents relocated, etc. Very heavy-handed apparently. Don’t know if this might have affected operations at the National Bio-Safety Laboratory, the BSL-4 facility, which is located across the Yangtze River in another district. Understand they have power generation backup, etc. Just another data point …

  26. Freakiest aspect to me is the spread of this disease tracks very closely to the spread o the Zombie disease in the novel “World War Z”. (Haven’t seen the movie so don’t know how that was handled there.) In the novel, the outbreak was local to an area in China and concealed by their government until the diaspora had spread it world wide. (Fly to SF, spend a few days seeing the sights, and then disappear into the hinter lands.) Rumors of cures in other countries drove yet more travel. Until it was everywhere.

    • Is this … news? I thought this was already assumed/known, since the beginning, hence the face masks.

      Please ELI5 how this news makes the matter worse than our understanding of it, say, a week ago.

    • They may be one of the few places that can effectively enforce a quarantine.

      IMHO, one of the scarier data points from the SARS mini-epidemic was that one health care worker who refused to comply with quarantine + not much happening to her in response.

  27. What are the odds this is all a giant psy-op to cover up violent suppression of rebellion? You know, seed some engineered flu-variant in some notable places to act as cover, then claim all the local Chinese deaths are from that flu and not state suppression.

    Unlikely, I figure, but it’s on my mind.

  28. One should be careful about reading too much into the fact that Chinese statistics is lies and their behavior looks guilty as hell. Statistics in communist dictatorships are always lies – that’s one of their main problems that has never been solved, and if the evidence from the former USSR teaches us something (it should) it is that there’s no some “true secret statistics” that the dictators have but keep to themselves. They just have slightly different set of lies, because on every level everybody is highly motivated to lie. There’s no way for them to build a system that collects correct statistics just this once for this very important case. It will still go through the same old system that cooks whatever the input is into a soup that is supposed to please whoever is upstairs.

    Same for seemingly idiotic behavior like moving the institute’s address – when something bad happens, a lot of people start covering their asses and do stupid stuff because they’re afraid the higher ups will turn their attention on them now and it’s never ever good thing. And those higher ups have their own higher ups in turn, and so on. A lot of weird stupid and borderline evil stuff is going to happen even if no initial evil intent was involved. HBO’s Chernobyl is actually not bad in showing some of it, but the reality – again if USSR example teaches us anything – is more chaotic and unpleasant.

    • Yup. I am genuinely surprised at number of people who think that because China imposes harsh measures, than means they know something…

      It’s like the time when communist China went crazy about some fruit, forgot it’s name. It wasnot beacuse they know something about the fruit rest the world didn’t. It was because system logic dictated this reaction was sometimes inevitable. Like a disease in a monoculture forest, some crazy fads spread without an obstacle in a monocultural system.

  29. You’re doing conspiracy theories now ? Patriotism has done your brain heavy damage… besides also being the last refuge of a scoundrel.

    • >You’re doing conspiracy theories now?

      If you were capable of basic reading comprehension you would know that I have specifically denied that I think the virus was released by a conspiracy.

  30. Found some extra news on r/TheMotte (an offshoot of SlateStarCodex) about covert links to 4chan from two anonymous hospital workers in Wuhan. (There’s the usual caveat about anonymous sources.) The claim is that many of the infected aren’t dying from coronavirus (CV) specifically, but rather from pneumonia aggravated by CV. So the cause of death may be listed as pneumonia when it’s really CV-aggravated pneumonia, and it’s impossible to know whether the patient would have survived.

    I think this ought not modify anyone’s priors about whether CV was created on purpose. I don’t expect anyone in that line of business to rely on a two-stage affliction to do a weapon’s job. That it can kill in two stages would just be an added “bonus”. But one thing that makes me less likely to believe the bioweapon theory is that the deaths seem to mostly still be the old and infirm (right?).

    More pressing to me, though, if this news is accurate, is the concern over CV taking many more lives due to secondary effects.

    • As I understand it, the name of the disease has been changed to “Novel Coronavirus Pneumonia.” So pneumonia is now considered a primary “feature” of the disease. Dying from pneumonia means they’re dying from NCP.

    • I don’t buy that it’s actually *engineered*.

      That being said, not everything that happens in a weapons lab is intended to be a weapon. One can try things, do tests and/or experiment to gain knowledge that would later be applied to a real weapon. If it’s an experiment (see my first sentence) that “escaped” it might not be INTENDED to be this lethal, it just sort of worked out that way.

  31. ESR: There’s been some new developments in the GrSecurity vs Bruce Perens saga:
    >https://archive.is/Gkzxw
    >https://www.itwire.com/open-source/linux-kernel-patch-maker-says-court-case-was-only-way-out.html

    The GrSecurity programmer, after losing his libel suit, still demands an apology from Bruce Perens, claiming that the legal theories Bruce Perens used “came from a troll who poses as a lawyer”, and then insinuates that RMS, BKuhn, etc do not see GrSecurity’s additional “no redistribution” clause as a GPL violation. I know for a fact that RMS recognizes it as a violation, and BKuhn was part of the initial discussions about the case. RMS just feels that without testimony from GrSecurity’s customers, he can’t do anything about this, and it upsets him. A federal copyright suit against GrSecurity would cost upwards of 600k.

    Any thoughts on all of this? And do you have your biohazard suits stocked up for Real-Life-Stalker brought to you by the Chinese?

    • >Any thoughts on all of this?

      Yes. My thought is that Spengler is full of shit and got the ass-whupping he deserved when he was required to pay court costs to Perens.

      • He claims his business is doing well and is expanding, and he will continue his GPL violations (no-redistribution promise from customers, in violation of section 6 of the GPL), and wants an apology from Bruce Perens. Was it enough of a whupping?

        Does he need something stronger, like a copyright lawsuit?

        Also note: making more than 1k off of copyright infringement is criminally sanctionable too.

  32. The main variable in susceptibility can be explained by tobacco use, rather than race. (Chinese men are very high smokers)

    https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.02.05.20020107v1

    “Recently, studies found that 2019-nCov and SARS-nCov share the same receptor, ACE2. In this study, we analyzed four large-scale datasets of normal lung tissue to investigate the disparities related to race, age, gender and smoking status in ACE2 gene expression. No significant disparities in ACE2 gene expression were found between racial groups (Asian vs Caucasian), age groups (>60 vs <60) or gender groups (male vs female). However, we observed significantly higher ACE2 gene expression in smoker samples compared to non-smoker samples. This indicates the smokers may be more susceptible to 2019-nCov and thus smoking history should be considered in identifying susceptible population and standardizing treatment regimen."

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/files/2012/10/smoking-map-2.jpg

    • >The main variable in susceptibility can be explained by tobacco use, rather than race. (Chinese men are very high smokers)

      It’s an attractive theory, but Chinese women do not smoke like chimneys and yet seem to be getting the disease at only slightly lower rates than the men.

      And what’s this about no racial disparity in ACE2? Contradicts other reports.

        • >Might second-hand smoke be enough?

          No way to know. But I’m skeptical; the few times I’ve found abstracts of actual studies on secondhand-smoke effects they’ve only backed claims far weaker than the sweeping ones the CDC and anti-smoking organizations make.

          (Myself, I hate being around secondhand smoke intensely. But I don’t view this as a good reason to jump on the bogeyman bandwagon.)

  33. When I first read this topic, I thought the biowarfare angle was a bit much (even granted the virus release was accidental in esr’s scenario).

    But after checking the DailyMail map in Deamon’s link, then checking the map against the following link and the geo coords for the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which is the *only* BSL-4 lab in China, I discovered the Institute really is only 300 yards from the Wuhan Seafood Market, the center of most of the first cases.

    How can this be? I had read that the Institute was nearby, but in terms of China I figured that probably meant 20-50 miles away, making it weird but one of those things. But the Institute truly is a couple blocks away. “Of all the gin joints in the world.” That’s a tough coincidence to explain away.

  34. [Quote] According to him, there is terrifying video being sent from Chinese clans to the overseas branches they planted in the West to prepare a soft landing in case they have to bail out of China. [unquote]

    If we stretch the meaning of “clan” as far as it will go, this characterization of Chinese emigration might be in the same quadrant as the mark in an infinitesimal percentage of cases.

    A friend, huh? No stretching is necessary to see that this comes from someone who is no friend of Chinese immigrants.

    His loss.

    On other notes….

    ACE II seems to be a _genotype_ (“II” means two “Insertion” alleles), and ACE2 seems to be an enzyme. Anyone know a biochemist? As for differences among peoples…

    https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/genetics-research/article/geographic-distribution-of-the-ace-ii-genotype-a-novel-finding/6DC14A0774C181C37981E5E732E92E45/core-reader

    [Quote] In brief, the II genotype had an average frequency of 23% in northern Europe, 20% in the UK, 15% in Spain, 14% in north Italy, 12% in south Italy, 7% in Lebanon, 6% in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), 2% in Kuwait, and then an average of 35% in China and 45% in Japan. [unquote]

    Are there highly-placed people in the PRC who would consider using a bioweapon, natural or engineered, against Taiwan? Well, they have missiles pointed here (I live in Taiwan), and I once saw a PRC general get apoplectic over the fact that Taiwan has its own government. Maybe I’m not the person to ask….

    • >A friend, huh? No stretching is necessary to see that this comes from someone who is no friend of Chinese immigrants.

      The informant in question is his daughters’s Canadian-Chinese boyfriend, who he reports he quite likes. I believe this report because he’s approximately as Sinophobic as I am, which is to say HAHAHAHA are you fucking serious?

      • I am one hundred percent serious.

        Someone (and I didn’t say it was you) who characterizes Chinese emigration as clans planting branches abroad might self-identify as a friend of overseas Chinese but is distorting the facts and doing people of Chinese descent in the West a disservice.

        I am a U.S. citizen by birth. Some might expect that the Taiwan family that I married into sees me as a ticket to expansion in the West, or at least as a convenient escape hatch, and that they would clamor for my wife to get a green card.

        There have been times when an early demise seemed like a distinct possibility for me, and I am now past retirement age, but there has never been a peep about a green card for anyone. My wife thought about it early on and decided it would be too much trouble, given that we’re not big on traveling and I’m not big on moving back.

        My extended family is connected to others through what can be called a clan association. That association is informal, moneyless, and powerless. It maintains genealogy records going back to those families’ earliest common ancestor in Taiwan. Other early arrivals with the same surname gave rise to separate, similar associations. Anyone with that surname who is not a member of a family in one’s own association is as much an outsider as someone with a different surname (despite being ineligible as a marriage partner).

        One member of my family currently resides in the West by personal choice. Everyone else in the extended family would much prefer that that member settle here.

        If the following Wikipedia article on Chinese clans is to be believed, the Communist Party long ago obliterated the very notion of clan in continental China:

        https://zh.wikipedia.org/zh-tw/%E5%AE%97%E6%97%8F (in Chinese)

        English-language Wikipedia pages titled “Chinese kin” (where “kin” is used the way “clan” is used in good English) and “Chinese lineage associations” state that clan associations do (or did) accumulate property and money. Given that there are (or were) so many associations, such cases can probably be found. Given these associations’ conservatism and location-based nature, it seems unlikely that many would “plant branches” abroad.

        Related but irrelevant: Until recently, many members of my extended family belonged to a Buddhist organization founded by the late head of a local temple. One member became absolutely sure at a very young age that he wanted to enter the clergy. He started his training here, then got plunked down (by the organization, not by his family) in a training center in British Columbia, where he spent his entire adolescence. Went away a pudgy, pigeon-toed kid, came back a strapping (and very good-looking) young man. Didn’t learn a lick of English.

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