Good Friday Morning from mandatory coronavirus lockdown. Tennessee joined many other states in enacting a mandatory shelter-in-place order from the Governor. I pitched a question on Facebook friends to see what everyone was binge-watching/listening to/reading these days. Tiger King was the overwhelming favorite. So I started it and sat in stunned amazement at the absolute bonkers-insanity that is Tiger King — a documentary. I’m not sure I’d recommend it to anyone, but there’s a reason it’s trending.
I’m working on a longer piece for The Dispatch on The World Health Organization (WHO) and what the United States should do about it. In the process of editing that piece, I had to cut a timeline of WHO’s failure to deal with the Coronavirus. I figured I’d share that timeline here because it’s helpful to see. My broad argument is that the United States should rid the WHO of the growing Chinese influence. After reading a timeline, I think you’ll come to a similar belief—links to follow.
- The White House is using a variety of models to project where the coronavirus is heading. But the most important one appears to be the IHME models, which you can view online. The peak day for the is coming sometime between April 13-20, if the models hold up well. They don’t account for all the new mitigation efforts by states and cities. That peak predicts around 2,500 people dying a day — with a range above and beyond that. April 2 was the first day that America experienced more than 1,000 people dying in one day, according to the COVID Tracking Project. Hopefully, the new measures being put in by states lowers the top-line numbers. As I keep saying — focus on real data, not models. All the early models were wrong, but as we get closer and closer to the peak time, the models will increase in accuracy due to more data being made available to them.
Where you can find me this week
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A Timeline of WHO’s failed response to COVID-19
The entire timeline of this virus is replete with WHO choosing to protect the CCP over any other global health concerns. And you can place that timeline over China’s lies about the coronavirus. Jim Geraghty’s work on this front is invaluable, and I’m going to start with the first four dates he noted, then move to the WHO’s response.
December 6: According to a study in The Lancet, the symptom onset date of the first patient identified was “Dec 1, 2019 . . . 5 days after illness onset, his wife, a 53-year-old woman who had no known history of exposure to the market, also presented with pneumonia and was hospitalized in the isolation ward.” In other words, as early as the second week of December, Wuhan doctors were finding cases that indicated the virus was spreading from one human to another.
December 21: Wuhan doctors begin to notice a “cluster of pneumonia cases with an unknown cause.”
December 25: Chinese medical staff in two hospitals in Wuhan are suspected of contracting viral pneumonia and are quarantined. This is additional strong evidence of human-to-human transmission.
Sometime in “Late December”: Wuhan hospitals notice “an exponential increase” in the number of cases that cannot be linked back to the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, according to the New England Journal of Medicine.
December 15, 2019. WHO issues its first guidance to health workers on protecting themselves while treating the novel coronavirus. Among the recommendations and safety are rules about wearing protection around patients with fevers and coughing. They included about human-to-human transmission.
December 30, 2019. China’s actions involve them raising the alarm internally. According to Science Magazine, “Hints of trouble first surfaced publicly on 30 December, when a directive from the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission asking hospitals to report unusual cases of pneumonia was reported by local media.”
January 1, 2020: WHO reports that it is “in ongoing contact with authorities in China over an unidentified outbreak of viral pneumonia in the central city of Wuhan, amid concern it may have been transmitted from animals.”
Note this from Geraghty’s timeline on the same day:
January 1: The Wuhan Public Security Bureau issued summons to Dr. Li Wenliang, accusing him of “spreading rumors.” Two days later, at a police station, Dr. Li signed a statement acknowledging his “misdemeanor” and promising not to commit further “unlawful acts.” Seven other people are arrested on similar charges and their fate is unknown.
January 6, 2020. From Geraghty: “The CDC offered to send a team to China to assist with the investigation. The Chinese government declined, but a WHO team that included two Americans would visit February 16.” Three days before the WHO arrives, China would alter how it counted cases (see February 13, 2020). WHO would never question this methodology change, before or after.
January 10, 2020. WHO releases instructions regarding travel to and from Wuhan, China. They say, “preliminary investigation suggests that there is no significant human-to-human transmission, and no infections among health care workers have occurred.” They continued: “WHO does not recommend any specific health measures for travellers. It is generally considered that entry screening offers little benefit, while requiring considerable resources. … WHO advises against the application of any travel or trade restrictions on China based on the information currently available on this event.”
January 11, 2020. WHO repeats everything from January 10 saying no human to human transmission, and there’s no need for travel or trade restrictions against China. WHO also praises China for its transparency and openness in sharing information on the novel coronavirus.
January 12, 2020. WHO praises China’s openness and “the authorities’ commitment to sharing information regularly with WHO.” They repeat prior reports, “The evidence is highly suggestive that the outbreak is associated with exposures in one seafood market in Wuhan. The market was closed on 1 January 2020. At this stage, there is no infection among healthcare workers, and no clear evidence of human to human transmission.” They end their update by saying, “WHO advises against the application of any travel or trade restrictions on China based on the information currently available on this event.”
January 14, 2020. Reuters publishes a report, quoting WHO, saying, “There may have been limited human-to-human transmission of a new coronavirus in China within families, and it is possible there could be a wider outbreak.” On Twitter, WHO continues to quote China, saying, “no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission” of the disease. That difference prompted a Twitter account that claims to be a journalist from mainland China, with only nine followers, to ask, “So what about the Reuters article. Was that a misunderstanding?” WHO responded: “Hello – there has been no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel #coronavirus (2019-nCoV). However, such transmission is always a concern when patients have respiratory symptoms – this requires further investigation.” WHO did this many, many, many, many times with other accounts.
January 15, 2020. From Geraghty’s notes: “The Wuhan Municipal Health Commission begins to change its statements, now declaring, “Existing survey results show that clear human-to-human evidence has not been found, and the possibility of limited human-to-human transmission cannot be ruled out, but the risk of continued human-to-human transmission is low.” Recall Wuhan hospitals concluded that human-to-human transmission was occurring three weeks earlier. A statement the next day backtracks on the possibility of human transmission, saying only, “Among the close contacts, no related cases were found.”
WHO continued to beat the same drum, “Not enough is known about 2019-nCoV to draw definitive conclusions about how it is transmitted, clinical features of disease, or the extent to which it has spread. The source also remains unknown.” And they end their update saying no trade and travel restrictions are warranted.
January 19, 2020. WHO says, “animal source seems the most likely primary source of this novel #coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak, with some limited human-to-human transmission occurring between close contacts.” A slight shift in language that WHO would shift back and forth on.
January 21, 2020. The CDC reports the first US case in Washington.
January 22, 2020. At an emergency press conference, Dr. Tedros spends his time praising China, saying, “I was very impressed by the detail and depth of China’s presentation. I also appreciate the cooperation of China’s Minister of Health, who I have spoken with directly during the last few days and weeks.” He continued, “His leadership and the intervention of President Xi and Premier Li have been invaluable, and all the measures they have taken to respond to the outbreak.”
Nothing new on human-to-human transmission.
January 23, 2020. China begins quarantine of Wuhan. WHO’s emergency meeting says that they “considered that it is still too early to declare a public health emergency of international concern given its restrictive and binary nature.” Dr. Tedros adds, “We are aware of media reports of suspected cases in other countries, but those cases are still being investigated.” WHO says they have no idea how the virus spreads and praises China for their actions. Note, WHO claimed burdensome quarantine policies were not effective on January 10.
WHO continues to warn against any restrictions on travel or trade against China.
January 24: From Geraghty: “Vietnam reports person-to-person transmission, and Japan, South Korea, and the U.S report their second cases. The second case is in Chicago. Within two days, new cases are reported in Los Angeles, Orange County, and Arizona. The virus is in now in several locations in the United States, and the odds of preventing an outbreak are dwindling to zero.
On February 1, Dr. Li Wenliang tested positive for coronavirus. He died from it six days later.”
January 27, 2020. WHO shifts its phrasing and starts saying there is no human-to-human transmission outside China.
January 28, 2020. China agrees to allow outside groups to investigate, and offers to allow WHO into the country to learn more about the virus. WHO praises China in a press release saying, “We appreciate the seriousness with which China is taking this outbreak, especially the commitment from top leadership, and the transparency they have demonstrated, including sharing data and genetic sequence of the virus. WHO is working closely with the government on measures to understand the virus and limit transmission. WHO will keep working side-by-side with China and all other countries to protect health and keep people safe.”
WHO also says things are too uncertain to determine new trade or trade restrictions saying, “the source of the outbreak and the extent to which it has spread in China are not yet known. While the current understanding of the disease remains limited, most cases reported to date have been milder, with around 20% of those infected experiencing severe illness. Both WHO and China noted that the number of cases being reported, including those outside China, is deeply concerning. Better understanding of the transmissibility and severity of the virus is urgently required to guide other countries on appropriate response measures.”
January 29, 2020. WHO changes its tune and says that exit screening is now advised for people coming to and from Wuhan, China. WHO caveats that advice by saying it is imperfect and will miss asymptomatic cases. They add at the end, “WHO advises against the application of any restrictions of international traffic based on the information currently available on this event.” WHO also released a statement saying they are rethinking whether or not this virus is a public emergency.
January 30, 2020. Trump announces he’s going to institute a travel ban to and from China. Joe Biden called this ban xenophobic. Dr. Anthony Fauci said it is unquestionable that the travel ban worked and was a good idea. WHO continues to say that human-to-human transmission of the virus outside China is limited. WHO first recommends the COVID-19 moniker for the virus, to comply with their regulations that avoid negative connotations to specific regions. Ebola and Zika were unavailable for comment.
The CDC confirms the first human-to-human transmission in the United States. WHO would continue to hedge against the human-to-human transmission threat for several weeks.
February 3, 2020. In a statement, WHO blasted the United States and other countries for closing off travel. “There is no reason for measures that unnecessarily interfere with international travel and trade. We call on all countries to implement decisions that are evidence-based and consistent.” China had already pivoted to using the most draconian quarantine measures like forced quarantine and locking people in makeshift hospitals on February 2nd.
February 13, 2020. The New York Times reports that Chinese authorities changed the way they were counting infections. The change occurred days before the WHO visited China. Scott Gottlieb was already questioning the veracity of Chinese reports. And WHO was taking global criticism at this point for praising and repeating Chinese propaganda. One week later, on February 20, WHO would start saying Chinese infections were dropping, and China was making good progress. Some observers began pointing out that China’s new numbers were near-perfect matches up to a predetermined statistical formula.
February 15, 2020. Dr. Tedros gives a speech, in which he says, “Let me be clear: it is impossible to predict which direction this COVID-19 outbreak will take. What I can tell you is what encourages us, and what concerns us.” He continued, “We are encouraged that the steps #China has taken to contain the COVID-19 outbreak at its source appear to have bought the world time, even though those steps have come at great cost to itself.” Tedros modified the human-to-human wording to say, “We’re encouraged that outside China, we have not yet seen widespread COVID-19 community transmission.”
The virus is not the main threat here, however. It’s fake news. “We must be guided by solidarity, not stigma. The greatest enemy we face is not the coronavirus itself; it’s the stigma that turns us against each other. We must stop stigma and hate! Too much has been written & said about my praise for China, I have given credit where it’s due & I will continue to do that, as I would for any country that fights an outbreak aggressively at its source to protect its own people & the world even at great cost to itself.”
WHO changes none of its recommendations for traveling or trade.
February 18, 2020. WHO announces that it is putting together plans for dealing with ports of entry and mass gatherings to stop the spread of the virus.
February 21, 2020. WHO demands other countries to take measures to contain the virus, praises China, and downplays community transmission. “Once again, the measures China and other countries have taken have given us a fighting chance of containing the spread of the virus. We call on all countries to continue their containment measures, while preparing for community transmission if it occurs.”
February 24, 2020. WHO says of Wuhan and China’s containment, “They found that the epidemic peaked and plateaued between the 23rd of January and the 2nd of February, and has been declining steadily since then. … The team also estimate that the measures taken in China have averted a significant number of cases.”
Cases had just started spiking in Italy, Iran, and South Korea. WHO, commenting on those situations, says that the virus is not a pandemic situation, “The sudden increase in new cases is certainly very concerning. I have spoken consistently about the need for facts, not fear. Using the word pandemic now does not fit the facts, but it may certainly cause fear. This is not the time to focus on what word we use. That will not prevent a single infection today, or save a single life today.” Tedros added, “We do not see evidence as yet that the virus is spreading freely in communities.”
March 11, 2020. In an Oval Office address, Trump announces a travel ban on Europe and many other measures.
March 12, 2020. WHO finally declares a pandemic. They claim they’ve been ringing “the alarm bell loud and clear.” WHO says countries now have to avoid “cases becoming clusters, and those clusters becoming community transmission.”
March 15, 2020. China begins its campaign in earnest to blame the United States for the spread of the army. WHO never comments on this accusation. Remember, WHO blasted the United States for cutting off travel with China.
March 20, 2020. WHO praises Wuhan’s response, “Yesterday, Wuhan, China reported no new cases for the first time since the COVID-19 outbreak started. Wuhan provides hope for the rest of the world, that even the most severe situation can be turned around.” Locals in Wuhan dispute this claim and are unconvinced China ever got the virus under control. Forced labor reports emergy about China.
Links of the week
Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) – the data – Our World In Data
No institution has failed the public worse than the news media during the COVID-19 pandemic – Becket Adams, The Washington Examiner
Watch out for the Chicken Littles gleefully pushing panic and doom – John Podhoretz, NYPost
Senior WHO adviser appears to dodge question on Taiwan’s COVID-19 response: Canadian Bruce Aylward, who visited Wuhan in February, appeared to hang up or be cut off when pressed on Taipei’s record – Helen Davidson, The Guardian
Twitter Thread(s) of the week
Satire piece of the week
WASHINGTON, D.C.—As if Americans haven’t had enough bad news, there are now reports of a huge disaster in the making. Apparently President Donald Trump has started watching the documentary Tiger King on Netflix and has purchased seventeen tigers, which are currently roaming the White House.
“This is worse than when he watched that Michael Bay Ninja Turtles movie and ordered nunchucks from Amazon,” said one White House staffer who wished to remain anonymous.
The tigers are now all over the White House, destroying priceless furniture and art. Even the Secret Service is too intimidated to confront them. Trump, though, seems unconcerned. “I saw this show about how much fun it was to own tigers,” Trump told reporters, “and I wanted to be just like the hero of the show — that Joe guy. I mean, I already know what it’s like to have a nasty woman out to get you.”
Thanks for reading!