February 07, 2020

Second Order Effects, Leading Indicators, Devil's Advocacy, and Friendly Advice

Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is starting to have second order economic effects. Hundai is shutting down at least one factory due to a shortage of parts from China. Similar issues are stymieing production at Airbus, Kia, Apple, and EricssonAB and this is unlikely to be an isolated trend.  Certainly futures markets believe so as copper prices are plummeting to nearly a three year low.

There have been a number of disease outbreaks that have caused concern over the last few years, SARS, MERS, any number of bird flu variants, Ebola, and others were (and in the case of Ebola still are) serious problems and genuinely dangerous, but they did not approach anything like what was feared and may contribute to a cry wolf effect when the big one hits. Something feels different about this, it may not pan out but the impression I get is that if it doesn't become a pandemic, it will be because of heroic efforts and luck.

A leading indicator of what the U.S. government may think is coming can be found in the fact that the Pentagon is being asked to set up quarantine stations on or near 11 airports nationwide. This is in addition to the 20 that the Centers for Disease Control operate. As of a week ago there were already 1,000 people in the U.S. in quarantine for this virus.  


I was asked on Discord to comment about the following:

There has been some speculation that the location of China's Class 4 Biohazard facility smack dab in the middle of this mess, and that the 2 week asymptomatic contagious period  (which is near the gold standard for a bioweapon) indicate that this disease is a military pathogen that got away from them like Glanders did from the Germans in WW1.

First of all, there's no direct evidence. Second, evolution is perfectly capable of producing horrific examples of pestilence as the Black Death, Plague of Justinian, Smallpox and Spanish Influenza show. Third, it is probably not relevant as the disease exists and must be dealt with. I emphasize probably because if it were an engineered virus that might have implications for treatment, though such matters are beyond a mere bachelor of arts' area of expertise.

I'm skeptical, but in the interest of devil's advocacy it should be noted that the P.R.C. is, like the U.S.S.R. before it, is a communist dictatorship. Using bioweapons seems unwise in the extreme, but the hubris of a bureaucrat knows no bounds and if the 5-year plan says that there will be a vaccine fore one's own forces, then in the mind of a bureaucrat that vaccine will exist. Additionally, in an earlier post we mentioned that serious concerns were raised about the then-under-construction Wuhan lab in 2017 and that there were 2 earlier containment failures with the less dangerous SARS virus in a Beijing lab about a decade ago. One involved a protocol issue and one involved an attempted live virus vaccine that had not, in fact, been rendered fully safe. China doesn't have a good track record in this area.  Here is an interview with  Ken Albiek who was an executive at Biopreparat (the soviet bio-warfare program). It's pretty horrifying, particularly the bit about what happened in Sverdlovsk when a filter was not properly installed and someone broke a container. Anthrax is not person to person contagious, had it been a more virulent disease it would have been  a major incident, with the only saving grace being the closed nature of the Soviet Union. It's entirely possible that the odious Chinese regime did botch something like happened in Sverdlovsk , but there is no hard evidence I'm aware of and eating fruit bats is a perfectly reliable way to get dreadful new diseases.

So heed this friendly advice...



Also:If you are interested in biowarfare,its potential for bio-terrorism or find that you sleep too soundly at night, I recommend buying BioHazzard, by Ken Albiek, which gives an overview in layman accessible terms of the mischief that Biopreparat was involved in.

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February 02, 2020

More Pronouncements Pertaining to Pestilence


There's nothing particularly unexpected in the news of the Coronavirus except for this that Instapundit found this morning. A story indicating that the bug's transmission rate outside China is expected to closely follow that inside China (hardly news) is getting deleted.

Perhaps it's the wording.

 Coronavirus infections predicted to grow exponentially; first death outside China; outbreak becomes political.

That WaPo link was good as of 10:50 AM, but several of the links on this ">screenshot are not.

Note that the John Hopkins tracking page does not match the aforementioned headline as of this post.

In other news, Ebola is having something of a resurgence in the Congo.

Fortunately, humanity is resilient, and can find something positive even in this mess.

OK...perhaps it's not that fortunate, but this exists.


Corona-Chan and Ebola-Chan:Viral Gal-lows humor is by dp6523

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February 01, 2020

Oh For Crying Out Loud

While China's Hubei Provence has been in the news with this Coronavirus, Hunan Provence has been hit with what is being described as a highly pathogenic strain of H5N1 birdflu in Hunan Provence.

Over 17,000 chickens have been killed trying to get a handle on this secondary mess, about which the news is mixed.

The virus does not infect humans easily, and spread from person to person appears to be unusual," the WHO said. "There is no evidence that the disease can be spread to people through properly prepared and thoroughly cooked food." The mortality rate in humans is 60%, the WHO added.


Emphasis mine

Let's hope it stays mostly bird-bound.

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