Coronavirus Pandemic Pt 1: Same Playbook, Different Virus

I’ve been sitting back, listening to and watching the crushing plan “they” have designed for us. I’ve been viewing this fiasco through the lens of history. I wrote this article to give you some perspective. I couldn’t help but think when this COVID19 blitz started, “How soon we forget.”

Coronavirus Spread

Over the last three weeks, unless you have been cloistered in a monastery in Tibet, you have been bombarded with at least 2.1 billion media mentions regarding a new form of coronavirus that has spread rapidly around the world. As a comparison, when Ebola was in the news last year, it received a mere 16.3 million media mentions.

The world economy has ground to a stop over the pandemic spread of coro­­navirus SARS-CoV2, the proper name for the virus. This name was chosen because the virus is genetically related to the coronavirus responsible for the SARS outbreak of 2003. The SARS-CoV2 virus is the cause of the coronavirus disease 2019, or COVID-19. The two terms are in use interchangeably but the words are not synonyms.

According to the CDC, coronaviruses are named for the crown-like spikes on their surface. There are 36 coronaviruses in the family Coronaviridae. The viruses cause respiratory or intestinal infections in humans and some animals. These common, mostly benign respiratory viruses were first identified in humans in the mid-1960s. 

The coronaviruses that commonly infect people are:

  • 229E (alpha coronavirus)
  • NL63 (alpha coronavirus)
  • OC43 (beta coronavirus)
  • HKU1 (beta coronavirus)

These four common human viruses cause 10–20% of respiratory infections worldwide and are present on all continents. Most likely, you’ve had exposure to, and perhaps ill from, a coronavirus infection at some point in your life. And you may actually have some level of natural immunity to this virus.

Round #1, 2002: SARS—Coronavirus

The first reported case of the “mysterious flu” was reported in November 2002. Scientists went into high gear and found this highly pathogenic coronavirus originating in the Guangdong province in China. Experts were concerned because there were no previous cases in humans before. Named SARS-CoV, for “severe acute respiratory syndrome caused by a coronavirus,” its spread set off panicked alerts across the globe. The WHO issued its first global alerts in early March 2003. The alerts went out even though the majority of cases were mostly in the Chinese province.

Ten years later a similar, highly pathogenic coronavirus called the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) would emerge in Middle Eastern countries leading to severe respiratory distress syndrome in humans.

Teams of experts went to investigate the SARS outbreak. The hysteria ramped up quickly, and within weeks, the Hong Kong Department of Health issued an unprecedented quarantine order. And order to keep residents inside their homes. Shortly thereafter, Mainland China followed suit, closing public schools, cinemas, and libraries. The closures being an attempt to stop the spread of the virus. As reports of more cases came into Toronto, Canadian health officials warned residents to quarantine themselves, wear masks, and in some cases, just stay home.

Over the six month duration of the pandemic, 8,049 people tested positive for the virus. The vast majority of cases occurred in China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, with a resulting 774 deaths, or close to 10% of known cases.

But since the total number of cases only represents those ill enough to seek medical help, the actual death rate is unknown and may have been far less.

Economic Implications With Minimal Affected

In spite of the fact that few people in Canada were affected (251) and even fewer died (43), the Canadian Tourism Board estimated that the SARS epidemic cost the nation’s economy $419 million. The Ontario health minister reported that the cost to the province’s health-care system, including money spent to develop special clinics and stock them with supplies to protect healthcare workers, was nearly $763 million.

SARS had a significant effect on the airline industry. Singapore Airlines lost $6 million each day during April and May when SARS choked off intra- and inter-Asian travel. Other less obvious industries that suffered during the outbreak were retail sales, hotels, and restaurants. When translated into an absolute dollar amount, these figures imply that the global economic loss from SARS was close to $40 billion U.S. in 2003. This figure is much greater than the medical costs of treating SARS patients.

Is this sounding familiar?

As SARS-CoV faded into obscurity in 2004, and has never been seen again, a new pandemic was coming to the forefront. But this time, it was an influenza virus, H5N1, that was gaining the attention of the WHO and the mainstream media.

Identifying influenza viruses is based on three distinct immunogenic types—A, B, and C—and a large number of subtypes. Type C viruses are either assymptomatic or very mild respiratory illness and do not carry with them a public health impact. Influenza type B infections also tend to cause minor illnesses. Having a propensity for older persons, influenza type B viruses are most oftenly occur in nursing home outbreaks. Research shows influenza types C and B as only active in humans. Until the emergence of the H5N1 virus, the only influenza A viruses in humans, since 1977, have been H1N1, H1N2, and H3N2.

Influenza A subtypes have been designated as either mildly pathogenic, meaning they cause minimal or no disease. Or they can be highly pathogenic, meaning their presence has been associated with widespread infection. The antigen subtypes H5, H7, and H9 are the cause of all outbreaks of highly pathogenic influenza. This has been the case since the 1980s.

Round #2, 2005: Bird Flu, H5N1

A pandemic by definition is an outbreak of an infection occurring over a very wide area, crossing international boundaries and usually affects a large number of people. By those standards, the bird flu exploded onto the world stage in May 1997 through an ironically innocent setting.

It Started in a Zoo

A Hong Kong pre-school had set up a small petting zoo on its grounds, making a home for five chickens and eight ducks. The children were happy to spend time with their feathered friends. Several days after the school aviary experience, a three-year-old boy began to cough. The illness and fever progressed rapidly, and the boy’s parents rushed him to Victoria Hospital where he was admitted with pneumonia and respiratory distress. Six days later, he died.

Pathologists found no underlying immunodeficiency or cardiopulmonary disease that would have contributed to the boy’s death. Three months later, the virus was confirmed to be avian influenza A virus with surface antigens H5N1. In a report published later, researchers held that this particular bird flu virus had not previously caused infection in humans.

Teams from the WHO and the CDC descended on Hong Kong to determine how the boy had been exposed to the bird flu virus and to assess the potential public health impact. According to investigators, one of the chickens in the petting zoo had died several days before the child’s symptoms had appeared. Postulation suggests that there was exposure to the ill bird, meaning, the virus had “jumped species” to infect the boy.

In the following days and weeks, officials began scrambling to determine if the virus infection had spread to those who had come in contact with the ill child. Approximately 2,000 human samples were collected from those who had been in contact with the boy, the school’s petting zoo, or the birds from the rural areas. No additional cases were identified. Then, a second case of H5N1 infection was confirmed in Hong Kong. Then, 18 more cases appeared over the following months. With news of the direct bird-to-human transmission, the CDC and WHO believed the next pandemic had arrived.

Again, is this sounding familiar?

Throughout the evolving epidemic, China denied the presence of bird flu in chickens or humans. However, that changed in 2005 when China reported 7 human cases with three deaths to the WHO. All across the expansive country, millions of farmers were living in close proximity to billions of chickens, the reservoir of the H5N1 virus. Reporting only seven H5N1 human infections seems extraordinarily low. Many virologists around the world have questioned the relative absence of human cases, given there were 30 highly pathogenic viral outbreaks in poultry across ten provinces throughout 2005.

China lied twice before; is there any doubt they could very well be lying now?

Round #3, 2009: Swine Flu (H1N1)

In the spring of 2009, another pandemic siren shrieked across the US and around the world. This time, it was over a novel strain of influenza A. With the origin and discovery of the virus in pigs from a small region in central Mexico, the outbreak became known as “swine flu” and the viral nomenclature was H1N1. The WHO quickly declared a “public health emergency of international concern.” By June, the WHO and the CDC stopped counting cases. The next step was to declare the swine flu outbreak as a pandemic.

About that same time, experts around the world were saying that this H1N1 swine flu virus was not aggressive enough to cause a worldwide pandemic. They noted that the mortality rate among confirmed cases was 1.6% in Mexico and only 0.1% in the United States. At press conferences, various medical experts made remarks such as, “It is unclear if we need to use vaccines against the swine flu because the virus does not have a pandemic nature.” Additional remarks include, “Does the world really needs a vaccine for an illness that so far appears mild?”

Onto the Fast-Track

Nonetheless, loaded with government funds, the Big Boys in vaccine manufacturing plowed ahead. By September, Pandemrix and Arepanrix, both made by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) were approved. Focetria, made by Novartis was also approved for use the following month. Celvapan, a whole virus vaccine made by Baxter was approved but soon withdrawn from market because it caused extremely high fevers. …

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