Governor Andrew Cuomo: From Hero to Goofball in One Seasonal Virus
Oh joy, another book by a hero of lockdowns! This time it is from Andrew Cuomo, who rode the disease-panic wave to the heights during the confusion of Spring 2020 before falling to the depths a year later. The adoring crowds, the fawning media, the enthralled masses all went away in a seeming flash, entirely due to some alleged untoward romantic gestures about which some complained.
Cuomo accomplished the deed and then was thrown to the dogs. He went from angel to devil practically overnight. One day he was saving New York from Covid – surely he will soon be president! – and the next he was waking up with nothing to do but look over his royalty checks.
Let us see what he has to say in his memoir. The book was written when he was at the height of his fame, but then withdrawn by the publisher when he crashed to the ground. But as it happens, there are contracts and advances and royalties at stake, so here we are now: American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic. The tone is confident, aggressive, sure-footed, and completely wrong.
We know for sure that he will not admit to having abused his power, personally or politically. He will not say that he had any part in wrecking New York, its commercial culture, its citizens’ sense of self-worth, or its religious freedoms. He will nowhere say that he went too far. He will not admit that he was a craven media tool or that he followed the mania in order to position himself for higher office. He will say none of that, any more than the rest of them have said that.
What does he say? Well, the book is more self-effacing than I expected, even disarming. He tells a good story concerning his personal life and struggles. It seems even sincere, and readers can connect with his professional rise then fall then rise again…and his subsequent fall again. His ideology is on display to the max: a progressive who believes strongly in government in its ideal but is always disappointed in its practice.
But the book is also strange for what it takes for granted, namely that locking down is the proper path to deal with infectious disease. Viruses in all times and places arrive, infect some portion of the population depending on prevalence, bear responsibility for the death of others, and eventually become endemic, which is to say, something we live with. This one was no different in any of its properties. What made this one different was its politicization and the casual but universally held view that life itself had to be fundamentally disrupted by government because of it.
Cuomo himself sneaks this presumption in from the start:
An airborne virus was one of the nightmare scenarios envisioned as a terrorist plot. It is easy to create chaos and overwhelm society with fear when people are afraid to breathe the air. There would be no good news with this virus and no good outcome. Schools and businesses would be closed. The economy would suffer. People would die. Nothing we could do would be enough. There was no possibility for victory, and even FDR and Churchill had at least the possibility of a successful outcome.
Really? No good outcome at all? Failure was baked in? Also, what is this passing mention of schools and businesses being forced to close? That did not happen in South Dakota, Sweden, Nicaragua, or Belarus. Why this concession to massive coercion when such had never been done in past pandemics? Where does this come from? And why did the governor just toss that in there? Why did he never rethink in the midst of his most egregious actions?
Keep in mind that he put this book to bed in the fall of 2020, just before his resignation following his call to open up New York. Here he writes that he defeated the virus. “New York State, a microcosm of the nation, has shown a path forward. We have seen government mobilize to handle the crisis. We have seen Americans come together in a sense of unity to do the impossible. We have seen how the virus is confronted and defeated.”
Remarkable. Consider the following two charts.
What these charts show is what one might have expected from any new virus of this sort with this risk profile. It killed. Then it infected more. Then 99.8% of those infected shook it off and obtained an upgraded immune system, no thanks to the vaccine that stopped neither infection nor spread. Then life got back to normal. Every bit of this trajectory was easily predictable regardless of what government did or did not do.
The virus did not need Cuomo to battle it: the human immune system does the hard work and governments are mere spectators. Public health knew that for decades until suddenly they did not. The temptation to be a hero was too great for vast numbers of people holding public office, Cuomo among them.
What government did was wreck much more than was necessary in the name of doing something. What’s worse is that the things government did reversed the higher-level knowledge that the one group that needed protection from the virus was the vulnerable population, in this case, the elderly and infirm.
Cuomo, on the other hand, signed an order, replicated in many other states, to force nursing homes to accept Covid patients in the extra rooms. No choice. They had to. This led to tens of thousands of unnecessary deaths. More on that in a moment.
On lockdowns, Cuomo simply bakes into the prose the idea that they had to happen. They began in New Rochelle, NY.
“No one was ready to accept that they needed to change how they were living…. As we saw in Westchester that day, local parochial concerns would butt up against major, wide-ranging changes that had to occur in order to combat the virus. As we were instituting this lockdown on New Rochelle, one Democratic assemblywoman who represented Westchester came to my office demanding a meeting; then she simply sat in the second row at a press conference and scowled at me.”
And that’s it: lockdown is the whole scheme. He never doubts it, never even argues for it.
The day after our first COVID case, the legislature passed the law giving the governor emergency powers to handle the crisis. If the legislature had not passed the law, I would not have had the power to do what I would soon do. There would be no executive order closing businesses or schools, no order requiring masks or social distancing. … The law was smart, and it has proven successful.
Now, let’s just jump ahead to the great nursing home scandal. I was curious what Cuomo had to say. I will just quote him.
By early spring, Republicans needed an offense to distract from the narrative of their botched federal response—and they needed it badly. So they decided to attack Democratic governors and blame them for nursing home deaths…. The Trump forces had a simple line: “Thousands died in nursing homes.” It was true. But they needed to add a conspiracy, which was that they died because of a bad state policy that “mandated and directed” that the nursing homes accept COVID-positive people, and these COVID-positive people were the cause of the spread of the disease in the nursing homes. It was a lie. New York State never demanded or directed that any nursing home accept a COVID-positive patient.”
That’s fascinating because I’m almost sure that I saw such an order. I look at the New York State website and it has been taken down. I found it on the Internet Archive. It is on New York State letterhead.
It reads as follows:
COVID-19 has been detected in multiple communities throughout New York State. There is an urgent need to expand hospital capacity in New York State to be able to meet the demand for patients with COVID-19 requiring acute care. As a result, this directive is being issued to clarify expectations for nursing homes (NHs) receiving residents returning from hospitalization and for NHs accepting new admissions…. No resident shall be denied re-admission or admission to the NH solely based on a confirmed or suspected diagnosis of COVID-19. NHs are prohibited from requiring a hospitalized resident who is determined medically stable to be tested for COVID-19 prior to admission or readmission.
Oh. So it wasn’t a lie after all. And anyone can check this. Read the above. That certainly sounds like New York State directed nursing homes to accept Covid-positive patients. Denying that he did this amounts to pettifoggery over terms. The import was perfectly obvious. Why not just admit that he made a mistake?
I’m tempted to end this review there. But it actually gets worse. At one point, Cuomo writes that his heroics actually worked and that this is obvious. He is or was a completely unrepentant lockdower:
States like Arizona, Florida, and Texas that followed Trump’s demands to reopen quickly saw increased infection rates and needed to close their economies back down—reopening only to re-close. As a result, the financial markets were distressed with the volatility in these states. This stood in stark contrast to New York, where as of this writing 75 percent of our economy is open and our infection rate has been consistently 1 percent or below for nearly three months and among the lowest in the nation. It is incomprehensible that people still support Trump’s disproven theories. The states that most closely followed Trump’s “guidance” were doing the worst.
Look again at the charts above. The virus was only getting started when he turned in this text. He wrote those words during a seasonal downturn. Infections were still coming and coming in wave after wave. New York fared as bad as any state, certainly far worse than Florida or other open states. Meanwhile, New York drove residents out, and the state is in far worse economic condition than most.
And yet here he is taking credit for an intelligent and hands-on approach that wrecked the lives, liberties, and property of residents of the state, who, to this day, have yet to regain their composure. He did this. He became famous and beloved for it. And to this day, based on this book, he still believes that he was right.
Cuomo can’t imagine – truly – that he might have done anything wrong except perhaps communicated more clearly. In truth, governments could have forced everyone to paint their faces bright blue and wear frying pans for shoes and it would not have changed the pandemic outcome from what it was going to be. The virus never cared. But don’t tell that to Cuomo: the upshot of his book is that he saved New York. Nothing will convince him otherwise.
In short, don’t read this book looking for an apology. These politicians all panicked, as John Tamny argued from the beginning. No matter the policy, the pandemic was going to recede into memory, as it has. No matter how badly this class of politicians performed, somehow they all managed to claim to have done the right thing, and to earn royalties on their ghost-written accounts of their genius.
Even given everything, the book is not all bad. His personal stories are self effacing and engaging. He is a real person with a real life, with choices to make, risks to take, difficulties to face, family struggles, and so on. He was free to engage life to its fullest in 2020, unlike the 20 million people he locked down and robbed of all such opportunities. He believed that it was the right thing to do because Fauci was saying that it was. It was not in fact the right thing to do.
I would like to end by echoing Cuomo’s tribute to those who were shoved out in front to face the virus while the laptoppers languished at home in hiding. He is exactly right to say the following:
The heroes who made this happen were the working families of New York. When we were in our moment of need, we called on the blue-collar New Yorkers to show up for everyone. We needed them to come to work and risk their health so that so many of us could stay safely at home. These are the people who have received the fewest rewards from society but from whom we now asked the most.
These are the people who would have been most justified in refusing our call. They were not the rich and the well-off. They were not the highly paid. They have not been given anything more than they deserved. They had no obligation to risk their health and the health of their families. But they did it simply because “it was the right thing to do.” But for some that is enough. For some that is everything.
These heroes are the people who live in places like Queens, where I grew up. These are the people working hard to better themselves and their families. These are parents concerned first and foremost with protecting their families, but who still showed up every day as nurses, National Guard members, train operators, bus drivers, hospital workers, police officers, grocery store employees, food delivery drivers. They are Puerto Ricans, Haitians, African Americans, Dominicans, Asians, Guatemalans. These are the immigrants who love America, who make America, and who will fight for it.
These are the heroes of this battle. When COVID began, I felt it was unfair to call on them to carry such a heavy burden. I feared I would put them in harm’s way. But we didn’t have an option if society was to function. We needed food, hospitals, and electricity to stay alive.
All through this difficult endeavor there was never a moment when these people refused to show up or leveraged more benefits for themselves. At the beginning of a battle no one knows who will actually survive. Courage is determined by the willingness to enter the field. No one knew that when we started, the infection rate among our essential workers would be no higher than the general community infection rate. They have my undying admiration and the gratitude of every true New Yorker.
We can only say to that: Amen! These people do deserve deep gratitude. They also deserve a government that will never again conscript them to go to work for the professional class in order that the well-to-do can keep clean and free of pathogens. That the people Cuomo rightly celebrates were so treated is a violation of the social contract, and now have every reason to be bitter. And don’t you love the comment that “We needed food, hospitals, and electricity to stay alive?” Who exactly is “we” here?
We know. We know all too well.
Eye Protection Wasn’t Misdirection
From the Brownstone Institute
“If you have goggles or an eye shield, you should use it.” ~ Anthony Fauci, July 30th, 2020
We had heard enough from Fauci by the time this comment was made in mid-2020 to begin automatically tuning out his frequently contradictory advice. What if we had given weight to this comment and explored why he began recommending goggles (yet never donned them himself)?
While I’m not surprised that the inner anatomy of the face including ocular ducts and connectivity within structures aren’t common knowledge, I expected more of a reaction from the medical community regarding Fauci’s push for eye protection. Not only do medical professionals take extensive coursework on human anatomy — they are required to meet annually with an Industrial Hygienist for fit tested, hazard-specific kit for each exposure setting , including ocular protection. This testing process requires going into detail about each exposure setting and required donning and donning practices within the scope of their professional duties.
Instead of elaborating on his recommendation, Fauci just publicly hushed on the issue and folks carried on, obediently masked up yet entirely neglectful of their nasolacrimal ducts. Shame, shame.
These are the structures of the lacrimal apparatus connecting ocular and nasal pathways. Basically, the eye drains into the nasal cavity. None of the talking heads of the medical community ever seem to bring up that these parts of the body connect with one another, and while we hear about masks ad nauseam three entire years after the onset of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, no one is arguing with strangers on the internet about goggles.
Bernie Sanders was recently praised for being the only person at the February, 2023 State of the Union donning a (sub-grade, non-mitigating) respirator, but eye spy something fishy. It was noted that he kept removing his glasses, as they were fogging up.
Those who have donned respirators have experienced that exhale emissions are generally redirected out of the nose bridge (or out of side gaps if improperly sealed). This is the exhale emission plume create by a fitted, unvalved N95 respirator:
This plume of warm, moist respiratory emissions is what causes glasses to fog. This is precisely why I continue to argue that masks are NOT source control for respiratory aerosols, because these apparatuses are not designed nor intended to protect others from your emissions, but solely for protection of the wearer. The ASTM agrees with me on this matter:
The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) Standard Specification for Barrier Face Coverings F3502-21 Note 2 states, “There are currently no established methods for measuring outward leakage from a barrier face covering, medical mask, or respirator. Nothing in this standard addresses or implies a quantitative assessment of outward leakage and no claims can be made about the degree to which a barrier face covering reduces emission of human-generated particles.”
Additionally, Note 5 states, “There are currently no specific accepted techniques that are available to measure outward leakage from a barrier face covering or other products. Thus, no claims may be made with respect to the degree of source control offered by the barrier face covering based on the leakage assessment.”
So does it matter if your neighbor’s exhale emissions are directed in your face for the duration of your 6-hour flight?
Absolutely. Imagine sitting between these two fine fellas with your eyes exposed, and their emission plumes directed right in your face.
In mitigation of aerosol hazards, eye protection is a standard part of required kit, because those from the correct domain of expertise, Industrial Hygiene, know enough about human anatomy to remember the interconnectivity of facial structures.
Ocular transmission of SARS-CoV-2
There has been a great deal of focus on respiratory protection since the start of the pandemic, but ocular transmission was already established for SARS-CoV-1.
“SARS-CoV-1 has been shown to be transmitted through direct contact or with droplet or aerosolized particle contact with the mucous membranes of the eyes, nose and mouth. Indeed, during the 2003 SARS-CoV-1 outbreak in Toronto, health care workers who failed to wear eye protection in caring for patients infected with SARS-CoV-1 had a higher rate of seroconversion.”
We are beginning to see mounting research on ocular transmission for SARS-CoV-2 emerge, as well, traveling through the nasolacrimal duct from the eye, draining into the sinus cavity.
“There is evidence that SARS-CoV-2 may either directly infect cells on the ocular surface, or virus can be carried by tears through the nasolacrimal duct to infect the nasal or gastrointestinal epithelium.”
“The nasolacrimal system provides an anatomic connection between the ocular surface and the upper respiratory tract. When a drop is instilled into the eye, even though some of it is absorbed by the cornea and the conjunctiva, most of it is drained into the nasal cavity through the nasolacrimal canal and is subsequently transferred to the upper respiratory or the gastrointestinal tract.”
“SARS-CoV-2 on the ocular surface can be transferred to different systems along with tears through the nasolacrimal route.”
Seldom did ocular exposure result in eye infection, while systemic infections occurred regularly. Ocular exposure cannot always be determined as the point of contact for this reason, as an eye infection does not always coincide with systemic infection.
The nasolacrimal duct is often discussed in ocular transmission research, but this is not the sole ocular transmission pathway discussed.
“There are two pathways by which ocular exposure could lead to systemic transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. (1) Direct infection of ocular tissues including cornea, conjunctiva, lacrimal gland, meibomian glands from virus exposure and (2) virus in the tears, which then goes through the nasolacrimal duct to infect the nasal or gastrointestinal epithelium.”
Additionally, research is being conducted on the usage of ocular secretions in transmitting SARS-CoV-2.
“Then here comes the question, whether SARS-CoV-2 detected in conjunctival secretions and tears is an infectious virus? Colavita et al inoculated Vero E6 cells with the first RNA positive ocular sample obtained from a COVID-19 patient. Cytopathic effect was observed 5 days post-inoculation, and viral replication was confirmed by real-time RT-PCR in spent cell medium. Hui et al also isolated SARS-CoV-2 virus from a nasopharyngeal aspirate specimen and a throat swab of a COVID-19 patient. The isolated virus not only infected human conjunctival explants but also infected more extensively and reached higher infectious viral titers than SARS-CoV.”
According to this study, ocular secretions were highly infectious.
“The ocular surface can serve as a reservoir and source of contagion for SARS-CoV-2. SARS-CoV-2 can be transmitted to the ocular surface through hand-eye contact and aerosols, and then transfer to other systems through nasolacrimal route and hematogenous metastasis. The possibility of ocular transmission of SARS-CoV-2 cannot be ignored.”
This paper also has a focus on aerosols coming into contact with ocular mucosa.
“Once aerosols form, SARS-CoV-2 can bind to the ACE2 on the exposed ocular mucosa to cause infection. In order to prevent aerosols from contacting the eye surface, eye protection cannot be ignored.”
An additional area explored in this analysis discusses rhesus macaques wherein solely those inoculated through the ocular route became infected.
“If the ocular surface is the portal for SARS-CoV-2 to enter, where does the virus transfer after entering? An animal experiment reveals the possible nasolacrimal routes of SARS-CoV-2 transfer from the ocular surface. Five rhesus macaques were inoculated with 1×106 50% tissue-culture infectious doses of SARS-CoV-2. Only in the conjunctival swabs of rhesus macaques inoculated via conjunctival route could the SARS-CoV-2 be detected. Conjunctival swabs of the rhesus macaques that were inoculated via intragastric or intratracheal route were negative. Three days post conjunctival inoculation, rhesus macaques presented mild interstitial pneumonia. Autopsies showed that SARS-CoV-2 was detectable in the nasolacrimal system tissues, including the lacrimal gland, conjunctiva, nasal cavity, and throat, which connected the eyes and respiratory tract on anatomy.”
An additional macaque study had similar findings.
“Deng et al. showed that SARS-CoV-2 infection could be induced by ocular surface inoculation in an experimental animal model using macaques. Although the researchers detected the virus in conjunctival swabs only on the first day after inoculation, they continued to detect it in nasal and throat swabs 1-7 days after the inoculation. Their findings demonstrated that the viral load in the airway mucosa was much higher than that in the ocular surface. They euthanized and necropsied one of the conjunctival inoculated-animals and found that the virus had spread to the nasolacrimal system and ocular tissue, nasal cavity, pharynx, trachea, tissues in the oral cavity, tissues in the lower-left lobe of the lung, inguinal and perirectal lymph node, stomach, duode-num, cecum, and ileum. They also found a specific IgG antibody, indicating that the animal was infected with SARS-CoV-2 via the ocular surface route.”
While the nasolacrimal route is the primary focus in most current research, the blood-retinal barrier (BRB) is also discussed as a possible pathway.
“Once it reaches the ocular surface, SARS-CoV-2 could invade the conjunctiva and iris under the mediation of ACE2 and CD147, another possible receptor for SARS-CoV-2 on host cells. De Figueiredo et al described the following possible pathways. After reaching blood capillaries and then choroid plexus, the virus reaches the blood-retinal barrier (BRB), which expresses both ACE2 and CD147 in retinal pigment epithelial cells and blood vessel endothelial cells. Since CD147 mediates the breakdown of neurovascular blood barriers, the virus can cross the BRB and enter into blood.”
There has been a push recently to bring back masks for Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV), especially in schools, as this pathogen largely impacts youth populations, yet ocular transmission is a proven method of infectivity for RSV.
In this paper, intranasal dosing of the given pathogen resulted in onset of illness for nearly all respiratory pathogens studied. It reviews transmission routes and minimum infective dose for Influenza, Rhinovirus, Coxsackievirus, Adenovirus, RSV, Enteric Viruses, Rotavirus, Norovirus, and Echovirus, including ocular transmission.
“The infective doses of rhinoviruses in the nose and eyes are thought to be comparable because the virus does not infect the eyes but appears to travel from the eyes to the nasal mucosa via the tear duct.”
“Hall et al. (1981) investigated the infectivity of RSV A2 strain administered by nose, eye, and mouth in adult volunteers. They reported that the virus may infect by eye or nose and both routes appear to be equally sensitive. A dose of 1.6 × 105 TCID50 infected three of the four volunteers given either into the eyes or nose while only one out of the eight were infected via mouth inoculation, and this was thought to be due to secondary spread of the virus.”
“RSV A2 had poor infectivity when administered via the mouth but was shown to infect by eye and nose and both routes appear to be equally sensitive to the virus.”
“Bynoe et al. (1961) found that colds could be produced almost as readily by applying virus by nasal and conjunctival swabs as by giving nasal drops to volunteers.”
Would masks save schools from RSV circulation? Most kids have robust immune systems, with a very, very small percentage of the youth population undergoing chemotherapy or taking immunosuppressives, who usually are not on campus for in-person learning. But for those seeming protection and in-person instruction, we must not set them up for immune bombardment by offering a false sense of security while feigning ignorance of other viable transmission routes. Masks are not the answer.
Ocular transmission of respiratory pathogens hasn’t been a focal point of study, but with other pathogens and mounting research on SARS-CoV-2 showing such ease of systemic onset for this transmission route, more attention should be given to this area of research.
Consider all of the people you’ve seen donning masks or respirators over these past three years, assured in the merit of their virtue. How many still got sick? Did you ever once see someone donning goggles? Are we ever going to get around to discussing exhaustion of the hierarchy of controls, or are actual mitigating measures too taboo, too fringe?
TLDR: Ocular transmission is a viable method of transmission for SARS-CoV-2. Masks are not source control. Even N95s aren’t going to fix this. And all child masks are unregulated, untested, unethical, and unsafe, with zero efficacy, fit, term of wear, or medical clearance standards, and with ocular transmission being a proven route of transmission for RSV, masks aren’t going to fix that issue, either.
Curious: Angela Merkel’s September 2019 Visit to Wuhan
From the Brownstone Institute
In a much-tweeted soundbite from the recent Congressional hearing on the origins of Covid-19, former CDC director Robert Redfield noted that three unusual events occurred in Wuhan in September 2019 suggesting a lab leak from the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV).
But another, in retrospect, highly curious event also occurred in Wuhan in September 2019: namely, none other than then German Chancellor Angela Merkel paid a visit to the city and, more specifically, to the Tongji Hospital on the left bank of the Yangtze River. The hospital is also known as the German-Chinese Friendship Hospital.
The below photo from Germany’s Deutsche Presse Agentur shows Chancellor Merkel being greeted by nurses at the hospital reception on September 7, 2019. (Source: Süddeutsche Zeitung.)
A 2021 House Foreign Affairs Committee Minority Report, referring in greater detail to the same events as Redfield, concludes that a lab leak took place at the WIV sometime prior to September 12, when, notably, the WIV’s virus and sample database was mysteriously taken offline in the middle of the night (p. 5 and passim).
What an incredible coincidence that the German Chancellor was visiting Wuhan’s Tongji Hospital at almost precisely the time when, according to Redfield’s speculations, a potentially catastrophic event was taking place across the river at the Wuhan Institute of Virology! This was, moreover, merely three months before the first officially acknowledged cases of Covid-19 began to turn up in the city.
But the coincidence is in fact even more incredible. For when those first cases did begin to turn up in Wuhan in early December 2019, they did not in fact turn up in the vicinity of the Wuhan Institute of Virology on the right bank of the Yangtze, but rather in the direct vicinity of Tongji Hospital on the left bank!
The below mapping of the initial cluster of cases from Science magazine makes this clear. The black dot is the epicenter of the cluster. Cross #5 marks the location of Tongji Hospital.
And that is not all. As discussed in my earlier article on “The Other Lab in Wuhan,”although the WIV was relatively far removed from the outbreak – say around 10 kilometers from the epicenter as the crow flies — there is in fact another virus research lab in Wuhan that is located right in the area of the initial cluster.
The lab in question is the German-Chinese Joint Laboratory of Infection and Immunity – or, as its German co-director Ulf Dittmer has also called it, the “Essen-Wuhan Laboratory for Virus Research” – and the Chinese host institution of the German-Chinese Joint Lab is none other than the Tongji-Hospital-affiliated Tongji Medical College.
Per Google maps, Tongji Medical College is located around one kilometer due north of the hospital. Have another look at the above map keeping in mind the indicated scale. This would put it nearly right at the epicenter of the outbreak!
According to German and Chinese sources, however, the lab is in fact located at another hospital affiliated with Tongji Medical College: Wuhan Union Hospital. The location of Union Hospital is marked by cross #6 on the Science map: still in the cluster, but a bit further away from the epicenter.
A press release on the website of the University of Duisburg-Essen, the German co-sponsor of the lab, notes that:
The Joint Lab is fully equipped for virus research. It is a BSL2 safety laboratory with access to BSL3 conditions. German and Chinese members of the lab have access to a large sample collection form [sic.] patients of the Department of Infectious Diseases for their research.
BSL stands for “biosafety level.”
The below photo from a German article on the Essen-Wuhan collaboration shows the virologist Xin Zheng of Union Hospital, Tongji Medical School, at work in the joint lab. Per the cited source, Xin did her doctorate at the University of Duisburg-Essen.
Could SARS-CoV-2 have leaked from the joint lab?
And, while we’re at it, was gain-of-function research being conducted at the lab? We do not know, but we do know that the German members of the lab will, at any rate, have been in contact with a nearby lab where it was being conducted. For the Wuhan Institute of Virology lists the University of Duisburg-Essen as one of its partner institutions.
Furthermore, in addition to its own partnership with the University of Duisburg-Essen, Tongji Medical College also has a longstanding academic exchange program with the Charité research and teaching hospital in Berlin of none other than Christian Drosten: the German virologist whose controversial and ultrasensitive PCR protocol, in effect, guaranteed that the Covid-19 outbreak would acquire the status of a “pandemic.”
As discussed in “The Other Lab in Wuhan,” Drosten appears as one of the scientists participating in the so-called “Fauci emails,” and of all the participants, he is the most vehement denier of the possibility of a lab leak.
In remarks in the German press, Drosten has admitted that he began working on his Covid-19 testing protocol before any Covid-19 cases had even officially been reported to the WHO! He says he did so based on information he had from unnamed virologist colleagues working in Wuhan. (Source: Die Berliner Zeitung.)
Speaking of which, Drosten can be seen below in the company of none other than Shi Zhengli of the Wuhan Institute of Virology, the scientist whose research on bat coronaviruses is suspected of being at the origin of a Covid-19 lab leak.
The picture comes from a “Sino-German Symposium on Infectious Diseases” that took place in Berlin in 2015 and that was organized by Ulf Dittmer of the University of Duisburg-Essen. Dittmer, as noted above, is the co-director of the Essen-Wuhan lab, which would be founded two years later. The symposium was funded by the German Ministry of Health.
Dittmer is the bald man with the striped shirt in the full group picture of symposium participants below. (Source: University of Duisburg-Essen.) The jovial bearded man with the bowtie in the next row is none other than Thomas Mertens, the current chair of the “Standing Committee on Vaccination” of the German health authority, the Robert Koch Institute.
The Berlin symposium was held one year after the US government declared a moratorium on gain-of-function research.
As it so happens, Drosten himself has been involved in gain-of-function research, as the below screen shot from the webpage of the German RAPID project makes clear.
RAPID stands for “Risk Assessment in Prepandemic Respiratory Infectious Diseases.” Further information from the German Ministry of Education and Research expressly states that Drosten’s Charité hospital does not merely oversee, but is directly involved (beteiligt) in RAPID sub-project 2: i.e. “identification of host factors by loss-of-function and gain-of-function experiments.”
Imagine for a moment that then President Donald Trump paid a visit to Wuhan in September 2019, at the very time that a lab leak is suspected to have occurred in the city.
And imagine that, while there, he made a stop at a hospital that is affiliated with a medical school located in the very epicenter of the Covid-19 outbreak that would officially occur three months later.
Imagine that this medical school, furthermore, runs a joint, BSL-3 capable, virus research lab with an American university – let’s say, for example, Ralph Baric’s University of North Carolina – and that Baric and his colleagues were themselves conducting research right in Wuhan!
And imagine that the American university in question is also a partner institution of the Wuhan Institute of Virology (Baric’s University of North Carolina is not in fact) and that the local Wuhan medical school also has a partnership with, say, the NIH.
And imagine that there is even a photo of none other than Anthony Fauci of the NIH with none other than Shi Zhengli of the Wuhan Institute of Virology at a joint “Sino-American Symposium on Infectious Diseases” in Washington that was organized by Baric and funded by the US Department of Health four years before the Covid-19 outbreak. And imagine, for good measure, that, say, Rochelle Walensky was also present at the event.
Imagine, finally, that Fauci had not just (allegedly) provided funding for gain-of-function research, but was himself directly involved in it.
The above concatenation of circumstances would undoubtedly be regarded as what some members of the US intelligence community might call “slam-dunk” proof of US complicity in any lab leak of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that may have occurred in Wuhan.
Why does the ample evidence of manifold German connections to and indeed involvement in virus research in Wuhan not merit at least the same degree of scrutiny, if not to say of certainty?
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