Some Pandemic Surprises

A couple of days ago I was searching the internet for some details about the early days of the pandemic in China: When was the first death? when was it discovered that the virus was infectious before symptoms became evident? when was the WHO alerted about the virus? when was the earliest confirmed case?

I had some rough ideas about these but wanted some references from those who research these things.

But I was surprised by some of the results and can’t help wondering why! Could it be that the message does not fit the dominant narrative?

The Earliest Cases and Alerts

“On December 27 last year (2020), Zhang Jixian, a respiratory doctor in Wuhan, which was hardest hit by the coronavirus outbreak, was the first to alert authorities of a new contagious disease after treating patients with flu-like symptoms. Meanwhile, the city’s health officials started an investigation into the viral outbreak.

Within three days, the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission sent out an urgent notification about an outbreak of pneumonia of unknown causes in the city, and started releasing briefings on the disease since December 31. National experts were also sent to investigate the epidemic on site.”
[https://news.cgtn.com/news/2020-05-06/Timeline-How-did-China-warn-the-world-about-the-coronavirus-outbreak-QgTpKdT6o0/index.html]

“SARS-CoV-2 is a newly discovered virus that is closely related to bat coronaviruses,[24] pangolin coronaviruses,[25][26] and SARS-CoV.[27] The first known outbreak started in Wuhan, Hubei, China, in November 2019. Many early cases were linked to people who had visited the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market there,[28][29][30] but it is possible that human-to-human transmission began earlier.[31][32]

The scientific consensus is that the virus is most likely of zoonotic origin, from bats or another closely-related mammal.[31][33][34] Despite this, the subject has generated extensive speculation about alternative origins.[35][32][36] The origin controversy heightened geopolitical divisions, notably between the United States and China.[37]

The earliest known infected person fell ill on 1 December 2019. That individual did not have a connection with the later wet market cluster.[38][39] However, an earlier case may have occurred on 17 November.[40] Two-thirds of the initial case cluster were linked with the market.[41][42][43] Molecular clock analysis suggests that the index case is likely to have been infected between mid-October and mid-November 2019.[44][45]
[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/COVID-19_pandemic#Background]

Li WenLiang

Li Wenliang (Chinese: 李文亮; 12 October 1986 – 7 February 2020) was a Chinese ophthalmologist who warned his colleagues about early COVID-19 infections in Wuhan.[2] On 30 December 2019, Wuhan CDC issued emergency warnings to local hospitals about a number of mysterious “pneumonia” cases discovered in the city in the previous week.[3] On the same day, Li, who worked at the Central Hospital of Wuhan, received an internal diagnostic report of a suspected severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) patient from other doctors which he in turn shared with his Wuhan University alumni through WeChat group. He was dubbed a whistleblower when that shared report later circulated publicly despite his requesting confidentiality from those with whom he shared the information.[4][5] Rumors of a deadly SARS outbreak subsequently spread on Chinese social media platforms; Wuhan police summoned and admonished him on 3 January for “making false comments on the Internet about unconfirmed SARS outbreak.”[4][6]
[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Li_Wenliang]

“China named Li Wenliang — the doctor who sounded the alarm about the coronavirus that later killed him  — a “martyr” following a campaign to silence him by police in Wuhan.

Li was among 12 dead medics given the official honor by the Chinese Communist Party on Thursday (2020-04-02), according to state media outlet CCTV.

“Martyr” is the highest honor the Communist Party can bestow on a citizen killed working to serve China, according to the state-run Global Times tabloid.
[https://www.businessinsider.com/coronavirus-china-li-wenliang-whistleblower-doctor-martyr-2020-4]

Information to the WHO

“Since January 3, China has been regularly informing the World Health Organization (WHO) and relevant countries, including the United States, on the latest development of the situation.

On January 12, China shared with the WHO information on the genome sequence of the novel coronavirus, which has laid a solid foundation for global efforts of scientific research and vaccine development.

On January 23, China put Wuhan into lockdown to contain the virus. By that time, the megacity with 11 million residents had reported fewer than 500 infections, while cases outside the country was merely seven.”
{https://news.cgtn.com/news/2020-05-06/Timeline-How-did-China-warn-the-world-about-the-coronavirus-outbreak-QgTpKdT6o0/index.html]

Earliest Death

According to the WHO, the earliest recorded death was 2020-01-06
[https://covid19.who.int/region/wpro/country/cn]

“During the beginning of the pandemic, the Chinese government showed a pattern of secrecy and top-down control.[4] It censored discussions about the outbreak since the beginning of its spread, from as early as 1 January,[5][6] worked to censor and counter reporting and criticism about the crisis – which included the detention of several citizen journalists[7] – and portray the official response to the outbreak in a positive light,[8][9][10] and restricted and facilitated investigations probing the origins of COVID-19.[4][11] Early in the pandemic, several commentators (world leaders and anonymous whistleblowers) suspected the Chinese government had deliberately under-reported the extent of infections and deaths.[12][13][14][15][better source needed] However, contrary to popular speculation, academic studies have found no evidence that China manipulates COVID-19 data.[16][17][18][19][20] The New York Times reported in early 2022 that that “most experts believe the country’s official Covid counts have been at least close to accurate for most of the past two years.”[21]

From <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2019%E2%80%932020_COVID-19_outbreak_in_mainland_China>

Ref: 21: Leonhardt, David (4 February 2022). “Zero Covid in China”. The New York Times. [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/04/briefing/zero-covid-china-olympics.html]

Knowledge of Asymptomatic Transmission

While the earliest diagnoses indicated a SARS1 type illness/flu/pneumonia, the latter was known both to result in high mortality, but also only to become infectious once symptoms appeared.

“On 1 February 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) indicated that “transmission from asymptomatic cases is likely not a major driver of transmission”.[70] One meta-analysis found that 17% of infections are asymptomatic, and asymptomatic individuals were 42% less likely to transmit the virus.[71]

However, an epidemiological model of the beginning of the outbreak in China suggested that “pre-symptomatic shedding may be typical among documented infections” and that subclinical infections may have been the source of a majority of infections.[72] That may explain how out of 217 on board a cruise liner that docked at Montevideo, only 24 of 128 who tested positive for viral RNA showed symptoms.[73] Similarly, a study of ninety-four patients hospitalized in January and February 2020 estimated patients began shedding virus two to three days before symptoms appear and that “a substantial proportion of transmission probably occurred before first symptoms in the index case“.[74] The authors later published a correction that showed that shedding began earlier than first estimated, four to five days before symptoms appear.[75]
[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Severe_acute_respiratory_syndrome_coronavirus_2#Asymptomatic_and_presymptomatic_transmission]

May 1, 2020: “We estimate that 86% of all infections were undocumented [95% credible interval (CI): 82–90%] before the 23 January 2020 travel restrictions. “
[https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7164387/]

Location of Wuhan Institute of Virology and the Wet Market

“The Wuhan Institute of Virology is not 400 meters away from the Huanan seafood market. It is roughly 26,912 meters (or about 17 miles) away. The confusion stems from a so-called “scientific paper” (self-published in February 2020 on the academic networking site Research Gate with no peer review) that asserted with deeply flawed reasoning that “Wuhan Disease Prevention and Control Center” was involved in bat coronavirus research. The authors of that paper pointed to a building identified on Google Maps as the “Wuhan Jianghan Disease Prevention and Control Center” in close proximity to the market as a potential lab-derived source of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
[https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/cruz-wuhan-tweet/]

Conclusion

I don’t pretend to be a researcher or an academic. Just ‘a man on the street’ trying to find out the best information. There remain lots of unanswered questions, many of them surrounding the origins of this scurge. Amongst these unanswered questions are 1) why were Covid antibodies discovered in samples taken for a cancer screening programme done throughout Italy, with the earliest dating back to September 2019?
[https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33176598/]

and 2) how come university researchers found the virus itself in Barcelona sewage samples taken there on 2019-03-12, and how do its genetics relate to the wild Wuhan virus?
[https://www.ub.edu/web/ub/en/menu_eines/noticies/2020/06/042.html]

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