Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
February 27, 2020

As Virus Spreads Over The Planet Governments Are Slow To React

After a uneven first response China did its very best to limit the spread of the nCov-19 virus and the Covid-19 disease the virus causes. The extreme quarantine, which began in mid January, has come at a great economic cost but bought the rest of the world time to prepare for the inevitable surfacing of the virus in other countries.

Unfortunately many governments did not use the month given to them and botched their responses. The number of newly confirmed cases per day outside of China is now bigger than the new daily number inside of China. South Korea alone reported 334 new confirmed cases today while the much larger China only reported 433.


China has shown that it is possible to successfully fight and stop the epidemic. Unfortunately other countries are not ready to follow its example. This is now making it likely that the epidemic in China will become a pandemic and will spread mostly uninhibited all over the globe.

South Korea, Japan, Iran, Italy and the U.S. are now the countries which will see the next great impacts. Other countries will follow in a third wave as Brazil, Pakistan, North Macedonia, Greece, Georgia, Algeria, Norway and Romania all saw their first cases in the last 24 hours.

The wide spread in South Korea came through a religious cult which demands mandatory participation in overcrowded services. It was patient 31 and her contact with 1160 other persons that led to the wider spread:

It’s not clear where Patient 31 became infected with the virus, but in the days before her diagnosis, she travelled to crowded spots in Daegu, as well as in the capital Seoul. On February 6 she was in a minor traffic accident in Daegu, and checked herself into an Oriental medicine hospital. While at that hospital, she attended services at the Daegu branch of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, on February 9 and again on February 16.

In between those visits, on February 15, doctors at the hospital said they first suggested she be tested for the coronavirus, as she had a high fever. Instead, the woman went to a buffet lunch with a friend at a hotel. In an interview with local newspaper JoongAng Ilbo, the woman denied that doctors had advised her to be tested. As her symptoms worsened, however, doctors say they once again advised her to be tested. On February 17, she finally went to another hospital for the test. The next day, health authorities announced she was the country’s 31st confirmed case. In only a matter of days, those numbers had soared as hundreds of people at the Shincheonji Church and surrounding areas tested positive.

The quarantine of a whole cruise ship in Japan and the incompetent bureaucratic response to it made a further spread in that country inevitable:

On Saturday, the health minister admitted that 23 passengers had been released from the ship without taking a valid recent test and had traveled by public transit after disembarking this past week.

Now that the quarantine has ended and most of the passengers have left, the concern is that they could start spreading the virus on shore.

Japan now has 200 cases and its government has decided to close all schools throughout March.

In Iran the epidemic came from China with people who went to Qom for religious training. The spiritual center of Iran has many religious schools and universities and many pilgrim visit the shrines in the city. They contributed to the further spread of the virus. Iran now has a total of 254 confirmed cases including two lawmakers, a vice president and a deputy minister.

The Iranian government first blamed foreign broadcasts in Farsi language for creating a panic. That was not without reason when one consider the racist reporting like in the New York Times: ‘Recipe for a Massive Viral Outbreak’: Iran Emerges as a Worldwide Threat. The Gulfnews even blamed Iran for all Covid-19 cases in the Middle East while the first cases in the Emirates came from contacts with Chinese tourists.

Yesterday Iran still rejected closing its shrines and to prohibited religious services. Today it canceled tomorrows Friday prayers.

Italy has some 400 cases of which 190 are confirmed. It put 55,000 residents in the northern regions of Lombardy and Veneto under lockdown.

The above countries have now grasped the severity of the issue. The Trump administration seems to be far behind them.

The U.S. is likely to already have a significant number of cases but a lack of testing capacity has made any realistic estimate impossible.

Chinese scientists had published the genome sequence of the virus on January 12 and, based on it, developed test kits within a few days. The U.S. Center of Disease Control and Prevention also developed a test kit but had problems with its first version and its wider distribution. More than a month later it is still not ready for the foreseeable need:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention isn’t yet ready to detect whether the coronavirus is spreading across the country.

Just 12 of more than 100 public health labs in the U.S. are currently able to diagnose the coronavirus because of problems with a test developed by the CDC, potentially slowing the response if the virus starts taking hold here. The faulty test has also delayed a plan to widely screen people with symptoms of respiratory illness who have tested negative for influenza to detect whether the coronavirus may be stealthily spreading.
Only six states — California, Nebraska, Illinois, Nevada, Tennessee, and Idaho — are now testing for the virus, the Association of Public Health Laboratories told POLITICO.
Under current rules, each positive test must be confirmed by a second round of testing at the CDC. [Director Robert Redfield] told lawmakers that the agency can now screen 350-500 samples per day.
“I understand very much the FDA is focused on quality control, but there’s also a need to have a system that can respond to their needs,” [Marc Lipsitch, an epidemiology professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health,] said. “China tested 320,000 people in Guangdong over a three-week period. This is the scale we need to be thinking on.”

A case in Los Angeles shows where this leads to:

It took several days to test a coronavirus patient in Northern California who might be the first to have contracted the disease through community exposure in the United States.

The individual is a resident of Solano County and is receiving medical care in Sacramento County, according to the state Department of Public Health.

UC Davis officials said the patient arrived at UC Davis Medical Center from another hospital Feb. 19. But the patient was not tested until Feb. 23.

The test results were only known three days later.

Under the U.S. medical system testing will be expensive for the patients. Insurances may not pay for it. Many people will be unable or unwilling to spend money on it. Care for serious cases will also be limited by high prices. This guarantees that the virus will spread further. China was smart enough to guarantee 100% state coverage for testing and all necessary care. The U.S. should follow that principle but is  unlikely to do so.

Trump announced that Vice-President Pence, a man who does not believe in science, will lead the response. The libertarian and neo-liberal approach to the problem will further the epidemic's growth. Only after it becomes really severe will the necessary measures be taken. 

To assess the wider global impact of the pandemic this table is most helpful:

*Death Rate = (number of deaths / number of cases) = probability of dying if infected by the virus (%). This probability differs depending on the age group. The percentage shown does NOT represent in any way the share of deaths by age group. Rather, it represents, for a person in a given age group, the risk of dying if infected with COVID-19.

In an unrestricted pandemic the virus will infect between 40 to 70 percent of the population. The virus is more deadly than a normal flu but mostly for elderly people with severe preconditions. Children and grown ups in their most productive years can carry the virus without showing symptoms and will only rarely become critical cases. This guarantees that our societies will continue to function. The pandemic will have severe, but not catastrophic, economic consequences as quarantines and fear will limit production and trade on all levels.

Trump's reelection chances are sinking as Covid-19 cases rise. The incompetence of his administration will come under new light. The stock markets will continue to tumble and erase the economic gains Trump had claimed. Bernie Sanders' chances of winning, if he survives the pandemic, will increase as his prime campaign promise -Medicare for all- will become even more acceptable when the problems with the current U.S. healthcare system come under new public scrutiny.

There are only few personal measures one can take to protect oneself from exposure. One should avoid personal contacts where possible. Wearing a mask, unless it is a special N-95 respirator which also makes it difficult to breathe, does not prevent one from catching the virus. But infected persons should use masks to protect those they may come in contact with from droplet infections. Stocking up on basic foodstuff and other needs might help to avoid potential shortages.

Previous Moon of Alabama posts on the issue:

Posted by b on February 27, 2020 at 16:53 UTC | Permalink

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Thanks for these links
What is interesting to watch since the beginning is the way the WHO is giving very messy information, often contradictory ones.
I also notice that when they state "countries are not prepared" or "should they take the proper measures" they obviously do not want to say anything that could impact the economy, i.e. quarantines, cancellation of any big sport event, as Switzerland is now finally applying but should have started a month ago.

Posted by: Mina | Feb 29 2020 12:41 utc | 201

I'm white and my (weird) bias is that I consider all ideology harmful because it eventually descends into mostly dogma and abuse, but even so I have no problem at all supporting China and anyone/everyone else for fighting against a virus and a disease about which much is still not properly understood.

It's not difficult, everyone is able to find a little bit of humility, sympathy, and appreciation in their own heart if they want to.

China's numbers make sense to the most relevant medical scientists in the world including several from the US and and the west in general as was assembled by the World Health Organization and China in partnership and who were given free access to look at all levels of the Chinese response.

I'll take that over any amount of internet rumors and premature speculation that's without much purpose exept to confuse and worry people.

Listen and judge for yourself, here is roughly two hours (it's the short version) of information given by Bruce Aylward several days ago on the 25th.

Others have already linked to it or similar content but some people seem to ignore it completely.

If your house is catching fire why discuss the politics of it? Get out the extinguishers instead and if you have to call the fire brigade you don't stop them to ask who they vote for or what their favorite ice cream flavor is.

Posted by: Sunny Runny Burger | Feb 29 2020 13:00 utc | 202

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Feb 29 2020 12:29 utc | 201

Though presumably people having this gene do not necessarily get the disease. And genetic disposition can be changed by lifestyle and environment. So other factors play a role.

If cortisone works in your case, techniques for lowering natural body cortisol might help. I know it is counter-intuitive but if you clog up your cells' cortisol receptors by continuous stress, you become receptive for all kinds of infections and illnesses.

That's a good recipe against the Corona Virus, too. Stay at home if you can afford to and lower the stress.

Posted by: somebody | Feb 29 2020 13:19 utc | 203

"Secondly, China lies constantly..." --some idiot or another @187

I stopped reading right there. Overt Sinophobia is so annoying.

Posted by: William Gruff | Feb 29 2020 13:29 utc | 204

"...explain how it is a virus can save whitefellas whist killing unwhitefellas?" --A User @191

I dunno... the non-whitefellas in North America had a really hard time with smallpox while it was just an inconvenience for the whitefellas.

That many people can relatively accurately distinguish ethnicities by sight suggests that there are genetic differences, however slight, between ethnicities. Targeting these differences, while not 100% foolproof, is adequate for a weapon by American standards. Think of it like a smart bomb that only blows up near people with skin darker than a certain shade of ecru (somewhat doable, actually). Sure, sometimes there will be people outside the view of the bomb but in the blast radius who are paler than the cutoff, or people nearby with really good tans who are normally below the threshold, but in general those picking the targets would consider that acceptable levels of collateral damage and call the bomb a success.

There is much to commend the argument "We're all the same!", and in some moral and metaphorical senses that is true, but it is demonstrably not true in the physical sense.

Posted by: William Gruff | Feb 29 2020 13:52 utc | 205

We Don’t Really Know How Many People Have Coronavirus - In an era when we get flash-flood warnings on phones, why is data on the new coronavirus so limited?

So, when it only affected China, it was all the fault of the evil CCP, who was "hiding the truth". Now that the virus is ravaging the West, it is simply a case of "we don't/can't really know".

To Take On the Coronavirus, Go Medieval on It - Quarantines and restrictive measures served a purpose in the old days. They can now, too.

But weren't these all a communist plot to curb freedom in China? All of a sudden, quarantines and other "restrictive measures" are good?

The Western MSM has lost the notion of ridicule.


@ Posted by: William Gruff | Feb 29 2020 13:52 utc | 207

It's not known the exact figure of Native Americans dead by the Western plagues. It is conjectured most of the deaths were caused by them, and not by direct extermination (war). But this is not proven - we don't know why the Western colonial powers managed to conquer America so easily and so effectively.

And even every case is not equal. For example, the Inca Empire was at the tail end of a fraticide civil war when the Spanish arrived. It was already effectively destroyed when the Spanish came - they just took the ruins. The Brazilian confederation of tribes managed to negotiate as equals with the Portuguese for more than a century, but the Portuguese were very smart in playing with the internal rivalries among them, and simply played the good old "divide and conquer" game by throwing one group of tribes to kill another group of tribes. After they self-destructed, the Portuguese finally resorted to exterminate the rest.

The story of extermination by plague is better fit to the Aztecs, since there is historical indication a big plague ravaged them. But even then we don't have the numbers. We must have in mind that pre-Industrial Revolution societies didn't think their world in numbers and statistics - this is was an Industrial Revolution invention.

We do know more genetically diverse populations are indeed less vulnerable to being wiped out by pandemics/epidemics. And we know that America was the last continent settled by the homo sapiens, which makes the Native Americans the most "pure" blood lineage of all humanity, therefore the less diverse. Human beings, on an individual level, can be randomly immune to some viruses. Smallpox exterminated a lot of Europeans in the Antiquity and Middle Ages - but they were genetically diverse enough so they could more or less endure it through sheer natural selection (and luck). The Aztecs definitely weren't as genetically diverse, and bad luck may have piled up the misery.

Posted by: vk | Feb 29 2020 14:14 utc | 206

William Gruff | Feb 29 2020 13:29 utc | 206

re. : "China lies all the time"

Is not "sinophobia" first because implication is government not people and not because is a genetic weakness.

Was merely poorly worded should have benn more like:
As is widely known, China tighly controls and manipulates information - economic, social, military, demographic, historical, ...

As do all developed world governments. The people exist to be led.

And you Dear Gruff are a "pearl clutching", "snow flake".

Posted by: jared | Feb 29 2020 14:20 utc | 207

At 9' the person explains that this is the report of the independent team, before it is seen by the head of WHO.
(thanks SRG for re-linking it)

In France they have their own way of spreading it: 3000 Italian soccer fans in Lyon a couple of days ago, today 100,000 Catalans in Perpignan to see Puidgemont.

Posted by: Mina | Feb 29 2020 14:21 utc | 208

One was wondering what could stop Trump from been elected in view of the 'fantastic' boom in USA economy. Maybe mismanaging Covid will do the job!

Virgile at 19.

Yes. Barring exceptional event(s), Trump would be re-elected, i always said. Now, depending on how Cov-19 unfolds, he will *most likely* not be.

The stance It’s just the flu stupid comes about thru understandable scepticism re. authorities (for ex. ‘Project Fear’ re. Brexit in GB), yet it is also *often* a result of propaganda, blunt, subtle, or both.

The plebs are lulled into ignoring dangers (ex. global warming, polluted water, bad meds, entrapment loans…) because the economy is of first concern - keeping revenue streams coming in to the elites, the system going, avoiding unrest, ‘revolution.’

As the elites judge they themselves can by-pass or escape the dangers, and care nothing for the deplorables who toil or are 'moochers' they can be replaced, and in any case one doesn’t need that many of them!

Trump tows that line, see for global warming (aka climate change), pollution, enviro destruction, + anything related, >> nothing to see here, etc.

Imho, his base (+ potential new voters) are perhaps ready to follow along in denial for some stretch - all is well - the message is ‘Covid-19 is the latest Dem Hoax’ (link for precise words)..

The virus is ‘foreign’, and its import, spread, should be stopped - arrivals from China etc. The glorious US of A should be able to defend, organise itself, mobilise community spirit against the bug, be soldered, show solidarity. DT would win millions of extra voters if he came out and said China did a good / ok, fair, insufficient, lousy …/ job to contain the virus…We can do better! whatever that ‘better’ might entail.

Posted by: Noirette | Feb 29 2020 15:38 utc | 209

In re racially specific "agents" I see that Comrade Meyssan has posted some innarestin' stuff. (volatire "Abandonné par Washington, Paris s’appuie sur Tel-Aviv contre Damas")

(The PNAC document also listed race-specific agents as desirable)

Following is machine translation>

. In the Middle East, Israel refused to sign the convention, bringing with it Egypt and Syria. From 1985 to 1994, Israel funded research in South Africa aimed at creating selective weapons based on racial characteristics. It was a question of determining toxic agents killing only blacks and Arabs and not the Jewish people. They were conducted under the direction of President Peter Botha's cardiologist, Colonel Wouter Basson. It is not known if they have been successful, which seems scientifically unlikely. Several thousand human guinea pigs die during the experiments [ 8 ].

[ 8 ] " The secret of Israeli gas ", by Thierry Meyssan, Al-Watan (Syria), Voltaire Network , September 15, 2013. " The Wouter Basson affair - Official Swiss reports " (2002).

Anybody can look up the PNAC document.

Posted by: Walter | Feb 29 2020 16:15 utc | 210

Dr. B. Aylward, member of WHO-China-Joint mission, he was there on the ground, etc. but is speaking for himself here, outlines in a vid-conf several key actions taken by China to stop the spread of Cov-19.

Brings up many points for consideration.

Posted by: Noirette | Feb 29 2020 16:29 utc | 211

Link from South China Morning Post, summary about Covid-19, offers a round-up of the state of affairs with plentiful illustrative, graphic representations. Well done. Useful for various purposes, to send on to others, share, etc.

Posted by: Noirette | Feb 29 2020 16:55 utc | 212

@William Gruff #207
You said:

That many people can relatively accurately distinguish ethnicities by sight suggests that there are genetic differences, however slight, between ethnicities.

Many problems with this argument:
1) Bacteria and viruses don't have eyes. Also, the accuracy of visual analysis is notoriously bad. A simple example: ethnic white Russians have significant Asian genes = ~10%. Are they white or Asian? Large demographics within India are genetically Caucasian but they're dark skinned (brown).
2) Viruses interact at the cellular level. Are there racial differences between Caucasian, Asian and/or African cells? Lung, red blood, white blood, etc?
No. There are different prevalences of blood type, true, but there are people with every blood type, of every race.
3) Genetic differences are much smaller between the races than variation within each race itself.
4) Viruses don't sample the full genetic structure of the cells they target. They infect by tacking onto the protein coat, then inject the equivalent of a carjacking via gun in the face. The result is that 99% of viruses spewed out by each hijacked cell is not viable - either to reproduce the original virus or even to hijack another cell to do anything/nothing.

So net net: not just wrong, but idiotic

Posted by: c1ue | Feb 29 2020 17:06 utc | 213

As of early Saturday, there were at least 67 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the US.
"said COVID-19′s current predicted fatality rate is higher than that of the 1957 influenza pandemic, which killed an estimated 66,000 people in the United States."

Posted by: snake | Feb 29 2020 18:09 utc | 214

@Noirette #214

Thanks for the link! Very informative. I especially liked the section on masks and how to use them and the section on COVID-19 death rates as compared to Ebola, SARS and MERS.

Posted by: S | Feb 29 2020 18:28 utc | 215

somebody 205
I dont catch any of the normal bugs that do the rounds - seasonal flue, coughs and colds, gut bugs ect.

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Feb 29 2020 19:49 utc | 216

I have gene called HLA-B27 that has caused me some grief health wise. Peter AU1

To avoid confusion by non-specialists. The terms like "gene", "isoform", "allele" are often confused, even by specialists. HLA-B27 is an allele of gene HLA-B, meaning that Peter has an identified variant of HLA-B. Antibodies that are essential to immune system have Y shape, stem I and arms V. I is embedded in the cell membrane and the V has some hypervariable parts that direct the response of the immune system. HLA-B is in I, so Peter's antibodies are not anchored in the membrane as well as they should.

Everyone has a lot of proteins produced by HLA-B gene. But with a deficient variant you may get trouble. Perhaps it is like with car brakes, you have a deficient type but as long as you drive like yokels in my area, accelerating and braking very gently, you get no problems, but if you want to take full advantage of the specs (it says I can stop from 65 mph in xxx feet!), you crash. But with rear brakes OK, you crash only when it is slippery.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Mar 1 2020 12:59 utc | 217

This guy Chris Martenson, biosketch,
has been putting out excellent and informative youtubes almost daily for the past month on the coronavirus outbreak.

This latest one goes into how long (up to 9 days in some cases!!) the ncov virus can remain viable on various surfaces (glass metal paper etc) and what disinfectants (eg rubbing alcohol, diluted peroxide, bleach etc ) ingredients/concentrations will kill ncov particles quickly, based on published data.

Also touches on ncov virus structure, biology, and the vaccine development process, timeline and hurdles.

Please check it out.

Posted by: gm | Mar 3 2020 3:13 utc | 218

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