Sen. Tom Cotton cited a known fact, and asked a very pertinent question on Coronavirus (officially COVID-19).
“We also know that just a few miles away from that food market is China’s only biosafety level 4 super laboratory that researches human infectious diseases. Now we don’t have evidence that this disease originated there, but because of China’s duplicity and dishonesty from the beginning we need to at least ask the question,” Cotton continued.
Let’s dispense with known facts before we proceed to “debunking.” COVID-19 is a dangerous viral outbreak. Though the vast majority of the cases are in China, we know that the Chinese have consistently underestimated the degree of the outbreak, at times by an order of magnitude. In short: they lied.
COVID-19 has claimed 1,776 lives at the time I’m writing this (source: Coronavirus Update – Worldometer). There have (officially) been 71,451 cases reported worldwide, with 58,245 of these unresolved. By “unresolved” I mean that the cases have neither been reported as deaths or recovered (currently infected patients). The “fatality rate” is being reported as 2%, but this estimate is based on reported cases, not resolved cases. Based on resolved cases (deaths plus recoveries), the mortality rate skyrockets to 13.4%.
“The situation is very grave in part because … China was lying from the beginning, and they’re still lying today,” Sen. Cotton, said. “And also because there are so many unknowns about this virus. For example, how many people one person can infect once they have the virus?” None of this is fringe conspiracy theory. These are all facts that we don’t know.
Immunologists don’t know the actual “R0” (“R-naught”) number for COVID-19. Part of the reason they don’t know is because China isn’t playing straight with their numbers.
“Right now, coronavirus is much more of a concern than SARS ever was,” said Steven Riley, a professor of infectious-disease dynamics at Imperial College, referring to the global outbreak in 2003, when 8,096 people got sick and 774 died. “The main reason is our estimate of the number of people who are currently infectious is higher than the maximum who were ever infectious at one time with SARS.”
“I think it is likely we’ll see a global pandemic,” said Marc Lipsitch, a professor of epidemiology at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “If a pandemic happens, 40% to 70% of people world-wide are likely to be infected in the coming year. What proportion of those will be symptomatic, I can’t give a good number.”
COVID-19 is extremely dangerous. There is no natural immunity known at this time.
The majority of the cases are still in China, and the Chinese authorities have consistently and repeatedly lied about the scale of reported cases and deaths.
There is a supervirus lab just miles from the “wet market” in Wuhan where the virus was first believed to have originated.
Tom Cotton has called for a targeted travel ban from China, a few weeks before the Trump administration put one in place. China wanted to make this a diplomatic row–citing “goodwill.” Nothing of the sort is true–this is to protect the rest of the world from a pandemic of potentially enormous proportions.
Yet, the Washington Post has already concluded that Cotton’s concerns are nothing more than tin-foil hat conspiracy theories.
In response to Cotton’s remarks, as well as in previous interviews with The Washington Post, numerous experts dismissed the possibility the coronavirus may be man-made.
“There’s absolutely nothing in the genome sequence of this virus that indicates the virus was engineered,” said Richard Ebright, a professor of chemical biology at Rutgers University. “The possibility this was a deliberately released bioweapon can be firmly excluded.”
I’m sure Mr. Ebright is a smart guy in some reporter’s digital Rolodex. He’s so smart that he’s also been quoted by The Street and MSNBC.
Two things emerge from Ebright’s quotes. The first is that he doesn’t believe the virus was engineered, and therefore Cotton’s claim that it might be engineered would be debunked. But Cotton never claimed it was engineered. He only asked that the Chinese provide evidence: “And China right now is not giving any evidence on that question at all.”
The second is that Ebright’s remarks actually support Cotton’s remarks.
It is important to distinguish, however, between the possibility that the virus was engineered, said Ebright in an email exchange with TheStreet, and the possibility that the virus entered the human population through a laboratory accident.
The first scenario, he said, can be “dismissed,” but the latter, cannot.
The available data are consistent with either the virus entering the human population as a natural occurrence, he said, or a laboratory accident — “which is exactly what happened in the second, third, and fourth entries of SARS-Cov into the human population in 2003-2004.” [emphasis mine]
Sen. Cotton asked that the Chinese provide some evidence that their supervirus “Level 4” laboratory didn’t somehow have an accident and release COVID-19 into the wild. Is this such a wild speculation to ask?
If some highly infectious, potentially deadly (14% fatality rate), virus were released within a few miles of, say, Fort Detrick in Maryland, or the CDC in Atlanta, would it be wrong to ask the U.S. Government to provide some evidence that the disease wasn’t the result of some lab accident? I’m certain the Washington Post and MSNBC would assign entire desks of reporters to research the question.
But since this is China, where the government literally controls all news, and the access of all scientists and researchers to foreign press, where the doctor who originally reported the disease (called a “whistleblower” by the BBC) died from the disease he reported, and where the government has sanitized all comments from its social media about that event, the American MSM believes the official line.
I’d say Tom Cotton is absolutely correct to hold the Chinese accountable for the origin of COVID-19, including the potential it came from their own laboratory. Whether the disease was engineered or not is beside the point, although how one researcher, however smart he is, can know enough to positively debunk the possibility seems improbable to me.
The MSM is too quick to “debunk” Cotton because he’s a Republican and supports President Trump. Even dealing with a dangerous outbreak, it’s always Orange Man Bad.
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