By MIKE MAGEE, MD
What a strange irony. Trump decides, full-bravado, to challenge China to a trade war just months before China unwittingly hatches a virulent pandemic that collapses our deeply segmented health care system and our economy simultaneously. And rather than cry “Uncle”, our President then fires the WHO just as their experts are heading to China to attempt to unravel the mystery of COVID-19.
With the ongoing, cascading catastrophe of Trump’s mishandling of COVID-19, it is easy to lose sight that the next pandemic (fueled by global warming, global trade, and human and animal migration) is just around the corner. And we haven’t even begun to nail down the origin story of this one.
Unraveling the transmission trail requires international cooperation. As one expert recently noted, “Origin riddles for other new infectious diseases often took years to solve, and the route to answers has involved wrong turns, surprising twists, technological advances, lawsuits, allegations of cover-ups, and high-level politics.”
What we do know is that there are originators, intermediate hosts, and human super-spreaders….and COVID-19 appears to have begun in China. These are not new insights. We’ve seen this playbook before.
The 2002 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) rode palm civets to the human hosts.
The 2012 Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) utilized camals as intermediaries.
The Influenza Pandemic of 2009 traveled through Mexican pigs which had been imported from Europe.
This particular tragedy appears to have begun in Wuhan, China, with the first documented case occurring in December, 2019. The city is the site of the Wuhan Institute of Virology lead by the highly recognized bat virologist Shi-Zheng-Li.
WHO experts will be meeting with China’s experts to share information that has only been released in bits and pieces.
For example, the original working assumption is that this pandemic began in Wuhan’s open seafood market. In January, 2020, there was