Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
April 14, 2020

Debunking Some Ideas About The Virus

We still do not know for certain where the virus that causes the current pandemic has come from. China's first known Covid-19 case has now been traced back to mid November. While the virus is most likely a natural creation the U.S. State Department officials now point to alleged insecurities at the safety level 4 laboratory in Wuhan which did research on similar viruses. It spreads unfounded rumors that the virus escaped from there. But the U.S. itself has many such laboratories with long documented security issues and there is reasonable suspicion that the real patient zero case has happened in the U.S.

Science will eventually solve that conundrum. Until it does there is little to gain from further speculation about it.

There is a loose group of people who think that the current pandemic is some conspiracy with a nefarious purpose.

Some of them still compare the disease caused by the novel coronavirus to a flu. Some doubt that current restrictions of their personal liberties are legitimate and justified. Still others doubt the value of masks (Yesterday I deleted a comment that argued against masks.)

It is probably a waste of time to counter the arguments of such people. But I will give it a try.

The graphs show the normal mortality rates in the England and Wales and in New York City and the current deviations from it. The flu does not create such graphs. Nor do the lock-downs.

England & Wales - Weekly Mortality - Blue: historic range, Red: 2020

Source: Ed Conway / Skynews - bigger
New York City - Deaths by Month 2000-2020

Source: NY Times - bigger

A lot of the currently occurring death get misclassified. This happens in both directions. Death caused by an underlying disease may be classified as Covid-19 death if the person was tested positive. But the extreme increase of 'cardiac arrests' in New York City is certainly related to Covid-19 even as those deaths are not counted as such:

New Yorkers are making four times as many emergency calls about cardiac arrests as they did last year [...] about 200 of these heart-attack victims are being pronounced dead at the scene each day, up from around 30 this time last year.


New York, Cardiac Arrests

Source: Economist - bigger

Some people in 'western' nations fear for their freedom and mistrust their current governments when they order a lock-down. There must be some nefarious purpose behind it. But why have the governments of China, Iran and Russia ordered similar measures? Are they part of a global conspiracy? I don't think so. Lock-downs are simply a sensible method to slow the spread of epidemics. They have been used with more or less success for hundreds of years.

Personal freedom is not an unlimited right. Diana Johnstone has given a convincing argument for its limits. One's freedom and rights end where they infringe on the freedom and rights of others:

[V]irtually all key aspects of any civilized society go contrary to the absolutism of individual rights. Every civilized society has some sort of legal system, some basic rules that everyone is expected to follow. Most civilized societies have a public education and (except for the United States) a public health insurance system designed to benefit the whole population. These elements of civilization include constraints on individual freedom.

The benefits to each individual of living in a civilized society make these constraints acceptable to just about everybody. The health of the individual depends on the health of the community, which is why everyone in most Western countries accepts a single payer health insurance system. The only exception is the United States, where the egocentricities of Ayn Rand are widely read as serious thought.

It is without doubt that masks are helpful to limit the spreading of the epidemic. An infected person begins to spread viruses by breathing, talking, singing or coughing on day 2 after the infection. Only on day 5 or 6 will the symptoms of the disease set in. Some people will never feel symptoms but can still infect others usually up to day 10 after the infection.

Masks stop the viruses one sheds from reaching other persons. They do this effectively.

Without mask

Source: Flow analyses to validate SARS-CoV-2 protective masks


With mask

Source: Flow analyses to validate SARS-CoV-2 protective masks

The German government is currently evaluating when to lift the current lock-down. It's science advisors are pushing for making it mandatory to wear a mask in all public settings. It is likely that the government will follow their advice. The above pictures show that this makes sense.




Posted by b on April 14, 2020 at 18:12 UTC | Permalink

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@ Posted by: hopehely | Apr 16 2020 16:45 utc | 404

Yes. China still doesn't have a universal healthcare system.

But it will.

Posted by: vk | Apr 16 2020 17:08 utc | 401

Quite peculiar kind of socialism they have over there.

Posted by: hopehely | Apr 16 2020 16:45 utc | 404

Chinese don't even have a national army. PLA is a CCP organiation. CCP itself boasts something like 6% membership. And of those 6%, safe to say 10% are actual movers and shakers. Plug that into population x 0.06 x .10 and we have something along the lines of the "1%" in the West.

So the West is "Democratic Free Market Capitalism with Oligarchic Characteristics" and China has "Socialism with Chinese Communist Party Characteristics" (or as Supreme Exalted Peerless Fearless Error-Free Chairman says 'Communism with Chinese Characteristics').

In both spheres, maximally 1% of the people lord it over the rest. Nepotism is rife in both realms and lords world over view the 99% "suspect until proven innocent of entertaining other 'characteristics'".

"Let's chip the 'non-members'. For their own safety."

"Hăo! Hăo!!"

Posted by: concerned | Apr 16 2020 17:19 utc | 402

concerned @406

False equivalency. Membership in the Communist Party is open to anyone who wants to join. Membership in the West's 1%? Well, there are some prerequisites there.

Plenty of people in the West would like to be in the 1%, but it's a rather exclusive club.

Plenty of people in China don't want to be in the CCP because the benefits are too lean to justify the effort for them.

Posted by: William Gruff | Apr 16 2020 17:33 utc | 403

@ Posted by: concerned | Apr 16 2020 17:19 utc | 406

Except for the fact that membership to the CCP is free and for all.

I don't know why people think it's weird for the PLA to be part of the CCP. A civil war was waged. The CCP was victorious and freed the Chinese people from Western colonization (that's why their army was rebaptized - it's name during and before the Civil War was simply "Red Army"). They have the natural right to reorganize China by their image - which, in this case, is socialism.

Or do you think the US Armed Forces should still be under British tutelage?

Posted by: vk | Apr 16 2020 17:36 utc | 404

vk @405

China's urban areas have healthcare, but I don't think they will be rolling out universal coverage in the countryside right away. The country is trying to incentivize urbanization, and better healthcare is one of the incentives to get people to give up the villages.

When the Chinese feel they have the right balance of rural-urban populations then they will get serious about providing the rural folks with the same level of benefits as urban populations.

Posted by: William Gruff | Apr 16 2020 17:45 utc | 405

@BM #403,
It looks like you're right that the figures are distorted by using age-standardised mortality rate (ASMR). There doesn't seem to be any rational reason for using that counting method in this case, when it doesn't seem to reveal anything that's not contained in the raw data. But I'm not sure either about why they would use ASMR to exaggerate or downplay any deaths. It just smells a bit fishy that they don't present the data clearly.

Posted by: Brendan | Apr 16 2020 18:58 utc | 406

@403 Posted by: BM | Apr 16 2020 16:32 utc | 403

Age standardization would be used where there is a measurement made on a sample of a population and then wish to correct the measurement to reflect the full population - where the age distribution of the sample is not close to same as the full population. It would not seem to apply since I would think they are measuring mortality rate of the entire population - either confirmed or confirmed + suspected. You cant really correct a total of how many people died of virus, unless you are saying they are taking total death count and estimating how many of those are caused by virus - based on sample.

Finding it hard to believe they are screwing-up the statistics. More likely people are trying sew doubt. I do suspect they are having some difficulty to make an accurate daily count.

The good news is they may have over-reacted a bit and have actually prevented a worst case scenario. I think there are some who are concerned the situation is not dire enough and will need to kick the props out from under the economy. A crisis is needed.

Trump can tout the greatest pandemic response ever in recorded history. They follow-through may be more complicated.

Posted by: jared | Apr 16 2020 19:54 utc | 407

Observed vs. expected mortality graphs for Spain (PDF).

Posted by: S | Apr 16 2020 20:11 utc | 408

successful infection of rhesus macaques

(link to the study inside the article)

From the study:

For primary infection, all animals were inoculated intratracheally with SARS-CoV-2219 (SARS-CoV-2/WH-09/human/2020/CHN isolated in our laboratory) stock virus at a 220dosage of 106TCID50/1 mL inoculum volume.

It would be interesting to know the exact contents of that inoculation, if it contains only viruses and water and nothing else. Someone with a background in virology could give more details.

Posted by: Phil | Apr 16 2020 20:58 utc | 409

not directly related to the coronavirus, but still interesting in the context. I have done a short abstract and translation of an article from 'Spektrum der Wissenschaft' January 2020, using mostly the words of the authors:

Since long time scientists thought that in microbial life, competition for resources (food) prevail. However, many questions remained unanswered. Thanks to technological advancement in the last 10 years, new research in marine microbes show that there is much collaboration happening. It suggests that cooperation between different bacteria species may not be the exception, but the prevailing strategy of survival (symbiosis).

Scientists failed to cultivate a number of bacteria species in the laboratory. The microbes flourish only in symbiotic community. The waste of the one species is the food of the other species. One metabolises methane gas but cannot metabolise sulfate, the other metabolises sulfate but not methane. These bacterial (including non-bacterial microbes like archaea) communities that form carpets on the maritime soil, are estimated to metabolise around 80% of maritime methane.

Authors: Jeffrey Marlow, Rogier Braakman

Braakman, R. et al: Metabolic evolution and the self-organization of ecosystems. PNAS 114, 2017
Marlow, J. J. et al: Carbonate-hosted methanotrophy represents an unrecognized methane sink in the deep sea. Nature Communications 5, 5094, 2014

My comment: it may be a bit surprising for the layman to read such an article. One would expect that today's science is well aware of symbiotic collaboration in nature. But it's a good sign that the concept of 'war against rivals' and 'the survival of the fittest' is meeting other concepts like cooperation between species. Which I am convinced can also help understand the function and purpose of microbial life inside human bodies.

The Chinese team that successfully infected the rhesus macaque with the human COVID-19 failed in their attempt to infect other ape species. We 'swim' in microbial particles we call viruses, our bodies are full of it. The main purpose seems to be the repair of cells. What is the purpose of viruses like the corona family? The rhesus macaque developed the typical symptoms like we humans. But he certainly was also afraid to death when they administered the inoculation. While it didn't work with other ape species who were in the same state of fear. Maybe I should also link to the Tass article:

Chinese scientists discover different COVID-19 effect on various primate species

I don't believe scientists will advance much after this coronavirus thing, but they surely will learn a lot of things. Especially when the environment is more often taken into account where a 'pathogen' is appearing. And when more research is done in the field of microbial morphing (bacteria changing shape and function. Search term: morphing bacteria).

Posted by: Phil | Apr 16 2020 23:13 utc | 410

@JackRabbit #239
I've looked at both Raoult studies in detail - he's using comparable dosages of Hydroxychloroquine as compared to the Brazil study (800 mg hydroxychloroquine = over 450 mg of chloroquine delivered; 500 mg of chloroquine phosphate is a high dose primarily because it is more toxic).
And the Brazil study is a lot more people and better set up than either of Raoult's ones: it has more people, it has controls and it has both controls and test groups with comparable age spreads and nCOV status (for Raoult's first) and Raoult's second didn't even contain a control group.

Thus your commentary trying to say Raoult is credible while the Brazilian one isn't...not credible.

Posted by: c1ue | Apr 16 2020 23:54 utc | 411

@JFo #245
We don't know the precise details of nCOV transmissibility, but we know it is far more transmissible than SARS or MERS. We also know that it isn't just soccer stadium celebrations - unless 90 year olds with serious existing health conditions are the primary audience in said soccer matches.
More importantly, the precise transmissibility doesn't matter too much since nCOV has clearly been spreading all over the world to a significant degree.

Posted by: c1ue | Apr 16 2020 23:57 utc | 412

@A.L. #286
Chloroquine phosphate is significantly more toxic than hydroxychloroquine.
Thus your effort to try and show "high" dosage in the Brazil study is sadly undermined by failure to recognize this medical fact.
Secondly, your attempt to portray my posting of a study as proof of my view that hydroxychloroquine is good (or bad) is sadly flawed - I have talked about the theoretical potential of HCH for several weeks now and that it is a proven and relatively safe drug.
However, these 2 facts do not guarantee either that the theory is real or that the typical dosages of HCH for rheumatoid arthritis or malaria prevention/cure will work with nCOV.
Rather than take a completely unsupported position that HCH is "good" or "bad" - I am presenting data.
And more importantly, rather than seeking some "miracle" cure (as a significant number of MoA posters are doing), I am looking for validation not just that HCH *can* work, but
1) That it actually does work
2) When it should be taken (i.e. stage of nCOV disease)
3) How much for it to work
4) What risk there is at the dosage
and so forth.

Posted by: c1ue | Apr 17 2020 0:02 utc | 413

@JFo #248
The Brazil study was looking at whether HCH would help cure nCOV at 2 different dosage levels.
It found little significant nCOV benefit difference between the 2 levels but significant secondary problems at the higher dosage.
The higher dosage is what Raoult and the China attempts were using, so it isn't by any means unusual.

Posted by: c1ue | Apr 17 2020 0:04 utc | 414

@Really?? #301
Low scale isn't bad per se, but it does mean that low scale prevents plasma transplants from being a major source of immunity.
In particular, a plasma transplant isn't 5 ccs - it means a single nCOV recovered person can help 1, maybe 2 other people.
What does this type of scarcity engender in the American system? The rich people will pay and get it - everyone else can take their chances.

Your idealistic view is nice, but it assumes:
1) We have widespread, affordable antibody testing to identify those people who are recovered
2) That the plasma recovery and transplant procedure is safe and affordable

Are either of these even on the table in the US health care system?

Posted by: c1ue | Apr 17 2020 0:07 utc | 415

c1ue 415

The recommended dosing of hydroxyChloroquine that I've seen is much less than you mention. The first day is higher, then it drops to half, (200 twice per day, I think).

And hydroxyChloroquine is apparently safer and better tolerated than Chloroquine phosphate.

Plus, you didn't address the lack of info about participants (notably, what stage of the disease) and the lack of Zinc in the Brazilian study.

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It's really hard to see the Brazilian study as anything more than an "FU" to China.

And where's the New York State results? If Chloroquine had been debunked by NYS doctors then YOU KNOW we'd be hearing about it. Instead ... silence.


Posted by: Jackrabbit | Apr 17 2020 0:18 utc | 416

@Really?? #308
Ok, 40K per 1% change in unemployment is a testable stat.
I'll assume this is for the US?
Here's data sources:
mortality data for US for 1979-1998
Unemployment rate data 1979-1998

Net net: there seems to be no relationship whatsoever between unemployment rate and mortality - at least for this data set.

graph of mortality changes, year on year, vs unemployment rate 1% times 40K

Note that there seems to be neither directional nor numerical consistencies between any of the mortality numbers and unemployment rate. I graphed overall deaths (delta between years), as well as deaths in the age groups 15-64 and 25-54 (working age) vs. 40K times the change in unemployment rate.

There are instances where unemployment went up and mortality went down, also where mortality went up when unemployment went down.

So I'd say that 40K number is some academic pulling shit of out his/her ass.

And FYI: if I graph the overall mortality rate by itself, the changes year on year are pretty small:
Overall US mortality 1979-1998
The absolute numbers are increasing, but that's to be expected with the US population increasing...

Posted by: c1ue | Apr 17 2020 0:56 utc | 417

@fairleft #358
I don't know what the study you quote did, but I just posted a detailed look at mortality vs. unemployment.
There is no relationship whatsoever, much less 40K per 1% increase in unemployment.

Posted by: c1ue | Apr 17 2020 0:58 utc | 418

@JackRabbit #420
The recommended dose you refer to is for malaria prevention or possibly rheumatoid arthritis.
It is much lower than Raoult was using in either of his trials, for example: both employed 800 mg of hydroxychloroquine.
As for Zinc: Zinc isn't relevant if you're looking at hydroxychloroquine effect by itself.
Some people obviously think zinc is the operating factor, but then again, some people think works too.
Theories are great - proof is all that matters though.

Posted by: c1ue | Apr 17 2020 1:01 utc | 419

@JackRabbit #420
As for New York: the mortality rates there are over 7600 nCOV dead per 10M. It is the worst in the world besides Lombardy itself (over 11K).
Why exactly is any New York absence of negative evidence for HCH, credible then?

Posted by: c1ue | Apr 17 2020 1:04 utc | 420

Phil @ 414:

Pls take care when describing "apes" and "monkeys". Crab-eating macaques and marmosets which were also used in the Chinese study are not apes.

I would be curious to know how rhesus macaques but not crab-eating macaques succumbed to COVID-19 since these two species are closely related. We would need to know more about how these studies were done, whether individuals of other macaque species were also used, and how large the sample sizes were.

It may be that rhesus macaques are more vulnerable to COVID-19 because these monkeys have a much longer history of close human contact than crab-eating macaques do: rhesus monkeys are widespread in southern and southeast Asia, are able to live in a huge range of environments with very different climates, and many populations of rhesus monkeys living close to humans may have picked up huge viral and bacterial loads (from scavenging in garbage heaps attached to villages, towns and cities) from humans over centuries of close contact.

Posted by: Jen | Apr 17 2020 1:06 utc | 421

The two reports cannot both be right, unless the ONS is omitting some relevant information.

Posted by: Brendan | Apr 16 2020 12:42 utc | 382

You can kiss good bye to your journalistic career.
A little slogan about "herd immunity": it cannot be separated from "herd culling".
A little argument on "China cheated and WHO is complicit". Russia had the same information as USA, they closed the border with China on Jan 30 and started with some measures. If nothing else, they delayed the epidemic by 2 months, they were thinking hard about therapy recommendations etc., and specialists got more air time than the President. And eastern neighbors of China that are American allies were not "misled" either, and comparatively, they have the situation under control. How information gathering apparatus of USA can consume ca. 100 billion USD per year and get it wrong? (Little historical background of monumental cases of disregarding intelligence can help in understanding.)
A little argument on "China coverup". There seemed to be a few weeks of denial, something that happens IN EVERY COUNTRY. Clusters of strange pneumonias happen in every winter season, and sometimes out of season. It is not possible to gouge an epidemic that is not as weird and peculiar as Ebola during the first several weeks.
An anecdote on disregarding intelligence. Stalin famously did not believe that Hitler plans a massive attack in the summer of 1941. However, he correctly knew two facts. (1) England wanted a war between Germany and USSR as diverting the dire danger from its shores (2) Analysis of prices of meat in Germany proved that Germans do not plan a war with Russia. This proof is really interesting:

1. A war with Russia has to extend into winter which is quite a bit colder than in Germany.
2. Once the temperatures drop below, say, -20 C, woolen uniforms are ineffective, as everybody knows. You need sheepskins.
3. To prepare millions of soldiers for winter war, you need skins from many millions sheep, and all that mutton would decrease the price.
Conclusion: Germans do not want to attack in 1941. Surely they are not stupid enough to send millions to suffer frostbite and death from hypothermia?

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Apr 17 2020 1:12 utc | 422

I try to post helpful information if possible, but sometimes I find it also necessary to point out serious flaws in science. Which in turn should appear to most people as helpful. Because then we learn to better judge the numbers and statistics we are presented in the media (and also on this blog). It seems to me pretty essential to know about the reliability of the data that plot these curves. I cannot quite understand why this is being ignored almost everywhere. And it's not even information one has to actively search for. One stumbles over it.

Why I repeat myself here is because this article is from 2017. Pre-Corona time so to speak, but not too old to be irrelevant. Its wording is indistinguishable from 2020 reports on that topic.

RT‐qPCR as a paradigm for the lack of reproducibility in molecular research

Data from a recent online survey run by Nature show that respondents believe that there is a significant (52%), or a slight (38%), crisis of reproducibility in the peer‐reviewed, scientific literature, with 65% of respondents experiencing failure to even repeat their own results. Curiously, 73% still consider that at least half the papers in their field can be trusted. This is borne out by the poor reproducibility of biomedical publications revealed in two studies, which has been associated with the decline in pharmaceutical research and development productivity. Understanding the causes for this predicament is not straightforward, explanations are complex, and it has not been possible to identify one specific aspect of the published research that is responsible for this quandary. In addition to the questionable relevance of many experimental models to the real world of human disease, the interpretation of experimental results is hampered by substantial biological and technical factors, as well as the deficiencies in the validation of experimental designs, avoidable accumulation of practical errors and inappropriate statistical analyses.

While I agree that quoting such studies is not really helping people who are sick or afraid of getting sick, it could indirectly present a reason for relief, as this could mean that the number of cases presented in the statistics could be too low, and the number of dead too high (for other reasons that are well known meanwhile). Which then, as said many times before, would lead to the conclusion that the real threat is relatively low. That you don't have to be afraid of getting sick, even if you are old and infirm and whatnot. I would say that this is a good message.

Posted by: Phil | Apr 17 2020 1:30 utc | 423

Posted by: Phil | Apr 17 2020 1:30 utc | 427

Well you make a good point, the "reproducibility crisis" has been around for quite some time now. A great deal of modern science turns out to be, well, subjective, but don't expect to get much comment. Our modern scientists tend to ignore such issues as long as the paychecks keep coming, and that tells you a lot about where the problem lies.

Posted by: Bemildred | Apr 17 2020 1:47 utc | 424

Are PCR tests for COVID 19 unreliable?

RT‐qPCR as a paradigm for the lack of reproducibility in molecular research Posted by: Phil | Apr 17 2020 1:30 utc | 427

Posted by: Phil | Apr 17 2020 1:30 utc | 427

There are some ways in which those tests go wrong, but when they do not go very wrong, they can still lead to "irreproducible results" because in most papers they are used to compare "gene expression", and biologist all too often rely on small differences, and often on small number of samples as well.

In the case of virus test, this is "present/absent" test, so it is a less challenging situation. You can still select wrong primers., RNA fragments used for "hybridization". You are supposed to determine presence or absence of those fragments, but that does not need to be conclusive. RNA from virii differs quite a bit from mammalian, but the problem is that there are many virii (viruses if you will). Thus we want a fragment of our target virus that does not occur in other viruses -- do we really know all of them? Well, we may know enough about other viruses, but mistakes are possible, and indeed, they happened at least twice in the case of COVID 19.

Then there are mistakes in the protocol. Wrong primer may lead to false positives, and deficient protocol to false negatives.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Apr 17 2020 2:01 utc | 425


I have previously posted the MedCram post on the function of zinc in inhibiting the virus replicase. Chloroquine or quercetin are the transport molecules through the membrane.

As of vaccines, they would also have to go through double blind trials to demonstrate their value without doing harm.

Posted by: Krollchem | Apr 17 2020 6:01 utc | 426

Macron, bankers' best lackey is now attacking China for hiding facts in an FT interview (paywalled to me).

Posted by: Mina | Apr 17 2020 8:22 utc | 427

Here is an interesting cluster, in Tremblay en France, a impoverished town north of Paris in the poorest department of France (Seine Saint Denis) among French gypsies. In one month, the ca 12 families, i.e. ca 60 ppl all got sick. One is dead. At least one is still in hospital
The mayor of Tremblay, 72, was tested positive a month ago but is now fine.

Posted by: Mina | Apr 17 2020 8:47 utc | 428

Who remembers Avaaz, the NGO which made itself a name by working actively on spreading propaganda pushing for war on Syria? Debunked here several time by b and others?

Well, it found a new lucrative biz, giving advice to FB and pushing for an intl legislation where anyone who has shared an article considered by the govs+MSM as 'fake news' will get FB messages with CORRECTIONS to his former posts and the TRUE accepted version.

Posted by: Mina | Apr 17 2020 9:03 utc | 429

JC @101

Agree with all you've said, I hope China finds a cure or vaccine too for the very reasons you state.

Posted by: Debz | Apr 17 2020 9:15 utc | 430

Whether the mortality is really higher or not due to the virus will be only seen in the coming year and years. Most persons who died related to the virus are either old or have several health issues or even both. Even if mortality is higher now among this group, it will be lower later on since the person simply died a little earlier than they would have otherwise.

In Hamburg, which is a federal state in Germany, forensic pathologists investigated the specific reasons of deaths of persons who allegedly died of the virus. They concluded that the vast majority of persons that died, died due to underlying diseases. The same pathologists cast serious doubt on the reliablity of the official death statistics of the German Robert-Koch-Institute - for them, their numbers are way too high. Another study in Heinsberg, Germany, a county that was severly affected by the virus, came to the conclusion that mortality is way lower than the WHO or Chinese sources say.

"The forensic scientist noted that "especially sick people and people with a weakened immune system" die. He was also able to identify previous illnesses in fatalities under 60 years of age, even if they were not even aware of them. Regarding the pre-existing conditions, Püschel mentioned cancer or a chronic lung disease on mopo request. Other patients had been heavy smokers or heavily obese, suffered from diabetes or had cardiovascular disease."

There are many more sources on those issues.

Posted by: mapa | Apr 17 2020 11:34 utc | 431

Prepare for a fresh new onslaught of racist, jingoistic, Sinophobic bullshit. A review of fatalities since January in Wuhan has re-categorized 1290 deaths as due to America's covid bio warfare attack on China.

Mindless, mass media consuming, remote-controlled zombies will now begin chanting in unison "See? We were right! They were hiding the real numbers!".

Posted by: William Gruff | Apr 17 2020 12:02 utc | 432

Posted by: Jen | Apr 17 2020 1:06 utc | 425

Pls take care when describing "apes" and "monkeys". Crab-eating macaques and marmosets which were also used in the Chinese study are not apes.

I will, thank you for the correction. My mistake, I should have taken that extra minute to find the right words.

I would be curious to know how rhesus macaques but not crab-eating macaques succumbed to COVID-19 since these two species are closely related. We would need to know more about how these studies were done, whether individuals of other macaque species were also used, and how large the sample sizes were.

very small, only 4 or 5. I think the research team just tried to find out if it possible at all. It appears that it is possible, but we would also need to know what the inoculation exactly consisted of (if it was without contamination, without human bacteria metabolites, etc.). This research was just a test.

It may be that rhesus macaques are more vulnerable to COVID-19 because these monkeys have a much longer history of close human contact than crab-eating macaques do: rhesus monkeys are widespread in southern and southeast Asia, are able to live in a huge range of environments with very different climates, and many populations of rhesus monkeys living close to humans may have picked up huge viral and bacterial loads (from scavenging in garbage heaps attached to villages, towns and cities) from humans over centuries of close contact.

Living close to humans is an important factor. Every animal will adopt some of the human microbiome and virome. Rhesus macaques are often used in medical science I believe, I think the term 'rhesus factor' is derived from them. (took that extra minute and checked: true)


Posted by: Piotr Berman | Apr 17 2020 2:01 utc | 429

The choice of primers seem to be a matter of choice that differs among countries. The protocol is not standardised worldwide. There are a couple of links to be found on the internet that discuss that problem, and confirm what you said. I understand that it is not an easy job for virologists. If the test is too sensitive they get too many false positives, if the test is not sensitive enough they get too many false negatives. They have to find the exact middle point, and after a while the virus may mutate and then they have to start again. That's the layman view I gather the more I look into this.

Posted by: Phil | Apr 17 2020 18:05 utc | 433

Phil @ 414

Very interesting. Thanks for the precis.

The same interconnectedness and (to us) mysterious ability to communicate can be observed among fungi and plant roots, etc. This is shown in a documentary on fungi featuring Paul Stamets, "Fantastic Fungi." Without fungi taking everything apart and breaking everything down to the fundamental building blocks, Earth would be a mess. There is probably a lot to "take apart" in every living thing.

The trailer is a fun short watch:

Posted by: Really?? | Apr 17 2020 18:16 utc | 434

" We also know that it isn't just soccer stadium celebrations - unless 90 year olds with serious existing health conditions are the primary audience in said soccer matches."

This statement seems to fly in the face of the point---well established by now, I believe--- that asymptomatic people can carry the virus and transmit it to far more vulnerable others. So it doesn't matter whether 90-year-olds are attending soccer matches. The whole argument for social distancing etc. is based on the recognition that the virus can be and is unwittingly transmitted.

Posted by: Really?? | Apr 17 2020 18:21 utc | 435

@krollchem #429
The zinc theory is interesting - but again: a theory is vastly different than reality.
I'd like to see some validation to back it up.

Posted by: c1ue | Apr 17 2020 22:21 utc | 436

@Really?? #438
I think you need to reread the post I was referencing, as well as parse the grammar of the post you are referencing.

Posted by: c1ue | Apr 17 2020 22:25 utc | 437

Posted by: Really?? | Apr 17 2020 18:16 utc | 437

thank you for the 'Fantastic Fungi' link. I will certainly enjoy this one. There is another recently released documentary about trees communicating with each other. I haven't seen it yet, but it surely reveals many details we haven't known, like 'Fantastic Fungi'. It's good we have such documentaries now, it is high time people understand more of the interconnections in nature.

Intelligent Trees - The Documentary


More on topic, a bit of psychology. An additional clue why we are so afraid of killer viruses (I'm not, but many people are). Dread risk (anticipatory anxiety):

We fear catastrophic events more than common events. In psychology there is an often quoted example from the aftermath of 9/11: people were afraid of flying in a plane and instead chose to drive in a car.

Americans reduced their air travel after the attack; for a period of one year following the attacks, interstate highway travel increased, suggesting that a proportion of those who did not fly instead drove to their destination; and for the same period, in each month the number of fatal highway crashes exceeded the base line of the previous years. An estimated 1,500 Americans died on the road in the attempt to avoid the fate of the passengers who were killed in the four fatal flights.
Gigerenzer G (2004)

While this behaviour appears to be irrational at first glance, it does in fact make sense in the view of behaviorism. For a group of people (family, village, tribe), a calculable risk of common events can do harm but does not put the entire group's survival in danger. A catastrophic event however can wipe out the entire group.

This is another piece in the puzzle we are in.

Posted by: Phil | Apr 17 2020 22:51 utc | 438


“Membership in the Communist Party is open to anyone who wants to join”

Completely untrue. Its invitation only. If invited and you accept you are member. Its basically an open secret society. Within the party there is a hierarchy and something of a democracy at the highest levels, but for the most part 90% of party members are simply technocrats who the elite party members can trust to carry out its control over the non-members. Those who perform best move up the ladder. Non-performers get kicked out . Most just survive at lower levels of the party.

Within the CCP there are multiple sub-parties. Party Members can choose which one they want to belong although each sub-party has its own standard for acceptance. Thats the democratic part

Posted by: Pft | Apr 18 2020 1:45 utc | 439

“Theories are great - proof is all that matters though.”

Posted by: c1ue | Apr 17 2020 1:01 utc | 422

In science theories can not be proven. They can only be disproven. To find disproof, one must have money to conduct studies and trials. For protected theories, such studies are not funded or are done by those with a trusted track record to get the right results (no disproof) . For dangerous theories which might affect careers, reputation or profits they are ignored or discredited, so no funding for honest scientists, and when funding is provided its given to those with a track record of getting the desired results (not disproof but rendered as statistically insigificant-ie, no evidence which is easily done with poor trial design)

Basically medicine today is the poster child for corrupted public-Private capitalism which is basically economic fascism. Yes, even the Priests of Scientism can submit to temptation and worship the God of Mammon.

Posted by: Pft | Apr 18 2020 1:59 utc | 440

yes pfft the fossil fuel companies have a lot of money, so i'm glad your skepticism of some areas in science doesn't extend to climatology. and yes, as i've pointed out before, they did conduct their own studies, with their own scientists, and those scientists told them the same thing scientists today tell them, fossil fuel emissions cause global warming. and any scientist who wants more money could get all the money they would ever need if they could refute agw. they can't.

Posted by: pretzelattack | Apr 18 2020 2:36 utc | 441

@ 445 bruce... quote from your article - "According to the 2008 Nobel Prize for Medicine, a plausible explanation would be an accident in the Wuhan laboratory."

a plausible explanation is fine, but incomplete as one need also recognize... there can be any number of plausible explanations for this... but because it is framed with the recognition "According to the 2008 Nobel Prize for Medicine Luc Montagnier", i suppose we are to suspend any questions and believe a plausible explanation is indeed now a fact?? pat lang would enjoy this.. what he has said in a definitive manner - not to be confused with the plausible explanation, is that this is a man made virus.. a propagandist could have a field day with this.. pass it on to pat lang, although he is not a very good propagandist..

Posted by: james | Apr 18 2020 4:24 utc | 442

it was plausible there were weapons of mass destruction in iraq prior to 2003.. a lot of people feel down into that hole back then...this also led to a war on iraq in 2003... it was all ''''plausible'''' until it wasn't anymore..... the problem with exceptional nations where might makes right is the approach led to some serious lapse in judgment, onot to mention integrity and a lot of innocent people dying needlessly..

here is a post from peter au on the most recent thread.. it is all plausible as well..

"A couple of articles in TASS.

China’s Ambassador to Russia Zhang Hanhui
'Ambassador says coronavirus imported to China, points to genetic sequence as proof'
"Five reputable scientific organizations, including the Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden and the Central Botanical Garden of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, have collected data on 93 genome specimens of COVID-19, published in a global database covering 12 countries on four continents," the diplomat specified. "The research revealed that the earliest ‘ancestor’ of the virus is mv1, which evolved into haplotypes H13 and H38, and they, in turn, led to emergence of the second-generation haplotype — H3, which evolved into H1."...
...The previous gene sequences, H13 and H38, were never discovered in Wuhan.
"This suggests that the H1 specimen was brought to the seafood market by some infected person, which sparked the epidemic. The gene sequence cannot lie," Zhang Hanhui asserted.

Maria Zakharova
"We cannot rule out that the Americans use such reference laboratories in third countries to develop and modify various pathogenic agents, including in military purposes," she commented.
The diplomat recalled that the Richard Lugar Center for Public Health Research in Tbilisi, a Georgia-based US biological laboratory, is an official part of the US military system of global infectious diseases control. "Moreover, according to recent reports, top-ranking Pentagon officials have recently visited it to offer the Georgian authorities to expand the range of research," she noted.

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Apr 18 2020 0:50 utc | 153?

Posted by: james | Apr 18 2020 4:45 utc | 443

It's important to keep clearing up misconceptions about how China's government works. Godfree Roberts has a 700-word brief on membership and structure of the Communist Party:
The Chinese Communist Party

There are larger and more detailed versions of this explanation, but this was the first one that came to hand. Roberts himself has more about this I think - probably in his archive at Unz - and Ramin Mazaheri over at the Saker has done a good job of breaking it down too I think. Jeff Brown of course has it in his books and probably on his website.

One doesn't actually have to search very hard to find this out, but none of the useful sources will come from western established viewpoints. Trying to parse China's civilization through western lenses, stained by the imperialism of centuries and contemporary propaganda, and imbued with western ideals (but not realities) of social organization, is a dead-end road.

One will get nowhere except wrong by projecting western concepts on China.

Posted by: Grieved | Apr 18 2020 5:19 utc | 444

I just posted a long piece on the Origins of the so called scientific paper "The possible origins of 2019-nCoV coronavirus"

It was actually written by the clown behind the blog "Harvard to the Big House. Hopefully the post will show up later.
This is the genuine Botao Xiao.
Lei Xiao, the supposed co author is a genuine researcher at Shanghai

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Apr 18 2020 8:06 utc | 445

Dan Sirotkin. Runs the blog Harvard to the Big House.

His first entry at the blog rattles on about time in prison but doesn't say much.
This is his background.

Daniel Mandel Sirotkin, 30 of Germantown, pleaded guilty in the case against him. Montgomery County Judge Richard E. Jordan sentenced Sirotkin to 35 years but suspended all but seven years. Sirotkin must also register as a sex offender.

“Today’s sentence sends a message that you will be held accountable if you take advantage of a young person’s trust and sexually abuse them you will be prosecuted and do jail time,” said Ramon Korionoff, Public Affairs Director for the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office.

According to court documents, Sirotkin was the girl’s coach and tutor and sexually abused her multiple times from 2011 to 2013.

That's the twisted bastard that owns the blog Harvard to the Big House. Trolls have been quoting his blog in relation to coronavirus.
He wrote a so called scientific report that he attributed to two Chinese scientists. Zero hedge run with it and MSM propaganda then quoted the zerohedge piece.

Another piece on him.

Montgomery County detectives have arrested a Germantown man for sex offenses allegedly committed against a teenage girl that he was coaching and tutoring.

According to a police statement, in November of 2013, Montgomery County Public School (MCPS) officials notified the police department that a man hired by parents as a private tutor and private athletic coach was engaging in alleged inappropriate contact with students.

According to police, the coach had contact with students from several private and public schools in the Bethesda and Potomac areas.

Montgomery County Police detectives conducted an investigation and, as a result, have charged Daniel Mandel Sirotkin, age 30, of the 17300 block of Autumn Harvest Court in Germantown, with two counts of Sex Abuse of a Minor and three counts of Third Degree Sex Offense.

Investigators have learned that Sirotkin has been tutoring and coaching high school students for several years.

Any parent or child who feels that Sirotkin engaged in inappropriate behavior is asked to call the Family Crimes Division at 240.773.5400.

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Apr 18 2020 13:31 utc | 446

I am disgusted, I witnessed a bunch of people having a good time in my neighborhood, smiling and joking around with each other, even their little kids seem happy playing enjoying the warm sun, they see no fear at all while I am so scared shitless I am isolating myself 'cause Fauci said so, I am miserable, I hate them. (sarc)

Posted by: Hannibal | Apr 18 2020 16:27 utc | 447

@Pft #443
You can't disprove a negative, but you can show that a positive result is consistent with a theory.
Saying hydroxychloroquine or azithromycin or zinc or donkey poop will cure nCOV is a straightforward proposition.
Yes, there is noise in unscrupulous or statistically ignorant researchers designing, running and publishing studies that are bad, but time and other studies will fix that problem.

Posted by: c1ue | Apr 18 2020 17:04 utc | 448

@ 452 bruce.. yes, i see your post has been deleted.. this is the post i responded to... see if you can post it again, but i think b will delete it again.. the way it was worded, all it said was as i quoted in it with great emphasis on my part on the word ''plausible''... plausible is not fact, regardless of the esteemed position of the person presenting the plausible idea... cheers.

Posted by: james | Apr 18 2020 17:16 utc | 449

Bruce the earliest patient had no connection to Wuhan market. Of the next three, two had no connection to Wuhan market. Perhaps the good French doctors have been paid to write the China dunnit pieces but then again the bug could be modified as they say but released by the US somewhere other than Wuhan first.

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Apr 18 2020 17:29 utc | 450

@ 450 bruce.. i am sorry bruce, i see you have posted an altered version @ 452, not the same as the other one... regardless - the word 'claim' is now taking the place of 'plausible''... to quote "Professor Luc Montagnier, 2008 Nobel Prize winner for Medicine, claims that SARS-CoV-2 is a manipulated virus that was accidentally released from a laboratory in Wuhan, China. " why can this only be releases from a laboratory in wuhan?? well, that is the part that has to sit behind the word 'claim' because without more details, it is just that - a claim... one can just as easily claim it came from the lab in "Tbilisi, a Georgia-based US biological laboratory,which is an official part of the US military system of global infectious diseases control." how does the claim rise above being a claim to being factual??? at this point nothing that you have shared alters this... thanks... a claim is just that - a claim, no matter if it is some esteemed person making the claim...

Posted by: james | Apr 18 2020 17:35 utc | 451

Now here is a respirator machine that could be debunked. For a laugh.

Posted by: uncle tungsten | Apr 19 2020 10:34 utc | 452

In the graph shown of deaths in England and Wales there's a problem an Americ, and also most people in England and Wales would not be aware of. At the point where the red line goes up vertically, the government had started counting differently.
At first they were counting people who died "with corina virus" rather than "of coronavirus." That means if a person who died was found to be carrying the infection it was logged as a cause of death coronavirus.
Now they are counting "coronavirus related deaths," which means, for example if someone dies in a care home or hospital ward where someone with the virus has been treated or a staff member has tested positive, that is a coronavirus related death even if the person who died was not and never had been affected by the virus.
If you want to be in the business of debunking narratives it's important to know how statistics are manipulated, especially on this one. We are all being lied to.

Posted by: Ed Butterworth | Apr 19 2020 23:36 utc | 453

There are a few problems with lockdowns:
- for many people they are not economically feasible. That includes most of the developing countries but also a lot of professions in the rich part of the world.
- lockdowns cannot be maintained forever. And the virus may just wait till it ends.
- the most crucial aspect of lockdowns seem to be a stop on mass meetings. Distancing has a limited effect and is prone to abuses: just note how many people fail to note a difference between distancing outdoors as with distancing on closed and crowded indoor spaces. Awareness is the most important part: it pushes the most vulnerable people the most - as it should. I expect that for indoor spaces the ventilation requirements will be augmented.
- the crucial part is the hard work: testing and tracing and quarantining of contacts. Even light cases must be investigated: one reason so many end in the IC is that hidden pneumonia isn't discovered because the patients have only light complaints and the doctors don't look deep enough.
- China's way of quarantining is often seen as cruel in the West. However, it would be easy to establish centers where people could quarantine voluntarily. But here we see the same problem as with testing: governments don't want to spend money on such things where there is a risk of abuse.

Posted by: Wim | Apr 22 2020 21:43 utc | 454

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