Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Hold My Corona: Popping the Top on Preparedness

 

A brief dip into Twitter prompted a brief bit of research, and the results seemed worth sharing in the current news or hype cycle. Now I know, why on earth would I be on Twitter when there is talk of a new virus and we all know avian flu is supposed to be quite nasty? I was there for entirely other reasons when I stumbled upon a retweet of a professional pundit thinking he was offering a hot take. Hot tweet? More like steaming hot bird droppings.

So, he counted on a rah-rah response. Biggest democracy next door to biggest communist tyranny, compare and contrast. He was also counting on willful ignorance, promoted by selective attention and memory. As anyone paying any attention to annual flu talk, let alone periodic health panics, should know, this tweet is nonsense. The usual set of viruses concerning us arise from the unique combination of dense animal husbandry of both fowl and swine in parts of China. The viruses cycle through all three kinds of host, mutating as they go. Just from fowl (“avian flu” or “bird flu”) and “swine flu,” you are given two of the three sides of the disease cycle. You know why not India just from “swine,” if not “fowl.” Between vegetarians and those who consider pigs ritually unclean, you just don’t get the right combination in India.

As to the claim India does not get outbreaks, if you nodded your head, you haven’t been paying close attention. Now, to be fair, you would have to pay close attention, because the US media and our whole foreign policy and national government establishment have long prioritized China over India. This may be an after-effort of 19th Century and early 20th century geopolitics.

India was firmly under British imperial control, so not worth fighting for as a major market. On the other hand, China was at least nominally sovereign at all relevant times and our businessmen were clamoring for our government to enforce access for American businesses to sell goods into China, in the face of European imperial powers who wanted to control trade in and out of China to their own advantage. The Americans had pulled off a major industrial espionage coup against the British and had become the world leader in the high-tech process of producing cloth in bulk by powered machinery. There were an estimated 100 million Chinese at the time, all surely in need of a shirt or two. That, at base, is why we sent warships and Marines to China, and not India.

So, it is not entirely unexpected that we would get less news from India than from China. We certainly should expect less news about a lower volume travel and trade route, comparing India:US and China:US. Yet, with near-supercomputers at the tip of our fingers or thumbs, there is no excuse for opinion and news purveyors to bury inconvenient facts.

The first page of search results on “disease outbreak India” yielded a wealth of inconvenient truths. How about a bat-borne virus, that is lethal to humans?* Is India prepared for a major disease outbreak?

Earlier this year, a list was unveiled of ten diseases which could result in a future epidemic in India. Now, an index has been unveiled of countries ranked according to their preparedness in the face of a future infectious disease outbreak of epidemic or pandemic proprtions.

The Global Health Security Index – prepared by the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI), the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security, and the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) – ranks India 57th out of 195 countries. […]

The report comes on the heels of outbreaks of diseases such as Ebola and Zika in recent years. India is no stranger to disease outbreaks of its own: in addition to communicable conditions such as HIV, malaria, and tuberculosis circulating for years, the country has witnessed emerging diseases take a toll. A notable example is the Nipah virus, outbreaks of which occurred in Kerala both last year and this year. While this year no fatalities were reported, the potential for resurgences in future years is very real. [emphasis added]

Oh, and China outscores both India and Israel on disease response readiness, if not by much. See the graphic at the top of this post for the excerpt from the rankings chart from the 2019 Global Health Security Index. None of this is to cheerlead for the ChiComs, nor to impugn India. We all know that democracies can bury inconvenient news for a time, if only by misdirection and distraction, and elected politicians will seek to avoid blame and actions they find painful or unprofitable, if only in a career sense. Yet, a handful of countries with regular competitive elections and a basic level of expectations seem to be doing better than most. Consider this image of the world:


* For your further reading pleasure, consider the Center for Disease Control’s lovely page on bat, cat, dog, bird, and swine flu. Yes, bats!

Because the internal genes of bat flu viruses are compatible with human flu viruses, it is possible that these viruses could exchange genetic information with human flu viruses through a process called “reassortment.” Reassortment occurs when two or more flu viruses infect a single host cell, which allows the viruses to swap genetic information. Reassortment can sometimes lead to the emergence of new flu viruses capable of infecting humans.

However, the conditions needed for reassortment to occur between human flu viruses and bat flu viruses remain unknown. A different animal (such as pigs, horses, dogs or seals) would need to serve as a “bridge,” meaning that such an animal would need to be capable of being infected with both this new bat flu virus and human flu viruses for reassortment to occur. Since the discovery of bat flu, at least one study has been conducted to assess the possibility of reassortment events occurring between bat flu and other flu viruses (3). So far, the results of these studies continue to indicate that bat flu viruses are very unlikely to reassort with other flu viruses to create new and potentially more infectious or dangerous viruses. In their current form bat flu viruses do not appear to pose a threat to human health.

So, it would appear that the primary threat from bats to humans is still rabies, not some killer flu.

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There are 22 comments.

  1. Boss Mongo Member

    @cliffordbrown: You, sir, are a national treasure.

    • #1
    • January 27, 2020, at 4:19 PM PST
    • 13 likes
  2. RightAngles Member

    Boss Mongo (View Comment):

    @cliffordbrown: You, sir, are a national treasure.

    Should be a journalist.

    • #2
    • January 27, 2020, at 4:30 PM PST
    • 8 likes
  3. Arahant Member

    Boss Mongo (View Comment):

    Clifford Brown: You, sir, are a national treasure.

    At least he is certainly willing to do a bit of research work.

    • #3
    • January 27, 2020, at 4:33 PM PST
    • 9 likes
  4. Saint Augustine Member

    RightAngles (View Comment):

    Boss Mongo (View Comment):

    @cliffordbrown: You, sir, are a national treasure.

    Should be a journalist.

    Meanwhile, Ricochet’s Main Feed promotion mechanism can help rectify the situation a bit.

    • #4
    • January 27, 2020, at 4:43 PM PST
    • 6 likes
  5. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    RightAngles (View Comment):

    Boss Mongo (View Comment):

    @cliffordbrown: You, sir, are a national treasure.

    Should be a journalist.

    Meanwhile, Ricochet’s Main Feed promotion mechanism can help rectify the situation a bit.

    Ricochet can and should become a go-to source as a 21st Century version of the period journal for the reading public, with smart content from poetry, though photography, music, food, technology and, yes, politics near and far, local to global. We have the collective knowledge, and the writing skills for the format. IMHO.

    • #5
    • January 27, 2020, at 4:51 PM PST
    • 13 likes
  6. Arahant Member

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):
    Meanwhile, Ricochet’s Main Feed promotion mechanism can help rectify the situation a bit.

    The Colonel is a contributor and can be promoted as fast as he wants to be, or he can do it by member recommendation.

    • #6
    • January 27, 2020, at 5:16 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  7. DonG (skeptic) Coolidge

    So, the takeaway is that a country that is a breeding ground for viral infections is also better prepared than average to deal with outbreaks? 

    • #7
    • January 27, 2020, at 5:20 PM PST
    • 8 likes
  8. Jim McConnell Member
    Jim McConnell Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    RightAngles (View Comment):

    Boss Mongo (View Comment):

    @cliffordbrown: You, sir, are a national treasure.

    Should be a journalist.

    Right Angles, please don’t insult the man.

    • #8
    • January 27, 2020, at 5:30 PM PST
    • 12 likes
  9. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown

    DonG (skeptic) (View Comment):

    So, the takeaway is that a country that is a breeding ground for viral infections is also better prepared than average to deal with outbreaks?

    It may be that this particular one is, which should be at least minimally reassuring. 

    • #9
    • January 27, 2020, at 5:32 PM PST
    • 7 likes
  10. TBA Coolidge
    TBA

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Boss Mongo (View Comment):

    Clifford Brown: You, sir, are a national treasure.

    At least he is certainly willing to do a bit of research work.

    How you gonna get the scoop if you waste time with facts? 

    • #10
    • January 27, 2020, at 7:06 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  11. TBA Coolidge
    TBA

    DonG (skeptic) (View Comment):

    So, the takeaway is that a country that is a breeding ground for viral infections is also better prepared than average to deal with outbreaks?

    Lots of practice can’t hurt. Well, yeah, it hurts, but you also get more effective. 

    • #11
    • January 27, 2020, at 7:08 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  12. Arahant Member

    TBA (View Comment):

    DonG (skeptic) (View Comment):

    So, the takeaway is that a country that is a breeding ground for viral infections is also better prepared than average to deal with outbreaks?

    Lots of practice can’t hurt. Well, yeah, it hurts, but you also get more effective.

    At least those who survive do.

    • #12
    • January 27, 2020, at 7:12 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  13. OccupantCDN Coolidge

    I think that anytime you have very large numbers of people living in close proximity, in a hot and humid environment, you have the potential for a multitude of diseases to fester, mutate and become (at least locally) an epidemic. So the fact this regularly happens should not be an indictment, its just nature.

    • #13
    • January 27, 2020, at 7:43 PM PST
    • 9 likes
  14. Arahant Member

    OccupantCDN (View Comment):
    I think that anytime you have very large numbers of people living in close proximity, in a hot and humid environment, you have the potential for a multitude of diseases to fester, mutate and become (at least locally) an epidemic.

    As Clifford said above, add in large numbers of animals or bush meat to the mix.

    • #14
    • January 27, 2020, at 7:46 PM PST
    • 6 likes
  15. James Lileks Contributor

    As to the claim India does not get outbreaks, if you nodded your head, you haven’t been paying close attention. Now, to be fair, you would have to pay close attention, because the U.S. media and our whole foreign policy and national government establishment have long prioritized China over India. This may be an after-effort of 19th Century and early 20th Century geopolitics.

    Possibly. But I think the US media’s interest in China is partly due to admiration for their muscular infrastructure policy – all those wonderful trains! – and the top-down planning that accomplishes big national initiatives without being tied down by the Lilliputian floss strung by NIMBYs and conservatives. 

    India has no such purchase in the journalist’s mind. It provides no instructive model for enlightened authoritarianism.

    PS I was informed today on Twitter that cocking an eyebrow Spock-like at “wet markets” is racist, so adjust your speech accordingly. 

    • #15
    • January 27, 2020, at 9:00 PM PST
    • 6 likes
  16. Saint Augustine Member

    James Lileks (View Comment):

    Possibly. But I think the US media’s interest in China is partly due to admiration for their muscular infrastructure policy – all those wonderful trains! – and the top-down planning that accomplishes big national initiatives without being tied down by the Lilliputian floss strung by NIMBYs and conservatives. 

    India has no such purchase in the journalist’s mind. It provides no instructive model for enlightened authoritarianism.

    That’s right, US Leftists: Admire China instead of India.

    You know, the country that has greater economic freedom than India according to the Index of Economic Freedom. Yeah, that country.

    • #16
    • January 27, 2020, at 9:27 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  17. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    James Lileks (View Comment):

    Possibly. But I think the US media’s interest in China is partly due to admiration for their muscular infrastructure policy – all those wonderful trains! – and the top-down planning that accomplishes big national initiatives without being tied down by the Lilliputian floss strung by NIMBYs and conservatives.

    India has no such purchase in the journalist’s mind. It provides no instructive model for enlightened authoritarianism.

    That’s right, US Leftists: Admire China instead of India.

    You know, the country that has greater economic freedom than India according to the Index of Economic Freedom. Yeah, that country.

    OK. So now consider the components of the metric you cite, and the priorities that metric actually reflects. Do tell.

    • #17
    • January 28, 2020, at 12:49 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  18. Saint Augustine Member

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    James Lileks (View Comment):

    Possibly. But I think the US media’s interest in China is partly due to admiration for their muscular infrastructure policy – all those wonderful trains! – and the top-down planning that accomplishes big national initiatives without being tied down by the Lilliputian floss strung by NIMBYs and conservatives.

    India has no such purchase in the journalist’s mind. It provides no instructive model for enlightened authoritarianism.

    That’s right, US Leftists: Admire China instead of India.

    You know, the country that has greater economic freedom than India according to the Index of Economic Freedom. Yeah, that country.

    OK. So now consider the components of the metric you cite, and the priorities that metric actually reflects. Do tell.

    Couldn’t tell you. I have very little clear idea of their methodology, though downloading Excel documents from the Heritage Foundation website might give you the information you need.

    It may be that India scores better in some key areas but worse in corruption. Just a guess.

    Anyway, the point is that US Leftists as described by Lileks–no doubt a bunch who want less economic liberty than China’s 58.4 percent–very likely do not know the facts, or do not know what to do with them.

    • #18
    • January 28, 2020, at 1:30 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  19. LibertyDefender Member

    The smart money is on overblown panic, as that bet always pays,

    Steve Hayward interviewed a Wuhan resident for his Powerline blog podcast. The resident pointed out that nearly all coronavirus fatalities have been among the aged. He didn’t go into great detail about the sanitation and living conditions of Wuhan Chinese, but they’re surely not comparable to American Standard (<—- see what I did there?).

    • #19
    • January 28, 2020, at 2:23 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  20. Stad Thatcher

    RightAngles (View Comment):

    Boss Mongo (View Comment):

    @cliffordbrown: You, sir, are a national treasure.

    Should be a journalist.

    He is a journalist. @cliffordbrown should get his own Sunday morning talk show on Fox . . .

    • #20
    • January 28, 2020, at 6:52 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  21. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown

    LibertyDefender (View Comment):

    The smart money is on overblown panic, as that bet always pays,

    Steve Hayward interviewed a Wuhan resident for his Powerline blog podcast. The resident pointed out that nearly all coronavirus fatalities have been among the aged. He didn’t go into great detail about the sanitation and living conditions of Wuhan Chinese, but they’re surely not comparable to American Standard (<—- see what I did there?).

    The PowerLine crew does great work. That podcast prompted my initial thoughts on the matter.

    • #21
    • January 28, 2020, at 1:08 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  22. Ray Kujawa Coolidge

    China’s only biosafety level 4 (BSL-4) facility is located in Wuhan, just 20 miles from the food market at the epicenter of the outbreak. Interesting is that the first two people infected didn’t have contact with the market.

    The Wuhan National Biosafety Laboratory is housed at the Chinese military facility Wuhan Institute of Virology linked to China’s Biological Warfare Program. It was the first ever lab in the country designed to meet biosafety-level-4 (BSL-4) standards – the highest biohazard level, meaning that it would be qualified to handle the most dangerous pathogens.

    https://www.zerohedge.com/geopolitical/did-china-steal-coronavirus-canada-and-weaponize-it 

    The quickly constructed hospitals can provide a means not just to care for and isolate the sick, but also are a convenient location for China’s top viral scientists to study the effects of the disease and various countermeasures.

    • #22
    • January 28, 2020, at 1:19 PM PST
    • 3 likes