If Schiff wants to know what happened, here's where he should look

Rep. Adam Schiff, of Mueller investigation and impeachment fame, is proposing an "independent" commission to examine why the country was so unprepared for the pandemic.  In an effort to be helpful, I'd like to humbly offer some guidance.

In 1999, two Chinese generals published an influential treatise that said China should not be bound by Western rules and methods of war.  Treaties were written by Westerners to maintain their military advantage over China.  For defense, China should do anything to win — nothing is off the table, and every occasion is an opportunity for strategy.

At that time, China still believed that the USA had engaged in impossible biowarfare in Korea.  China signed the Biological Weapons Convention in 1984 (12 years after drafting), agreeing provided other states were not in violation.  They privately felt that the unenforceable treaty was a "fraud of sham disarmament" and engaged in bioweapons research.  Frankly, they had a point: everyone was researching bioweapons for "defensive" purposes.

Probably from disclosures of their 20-year plan, the USA knew that China had "potential" dual-use bioweapons research in 2012 but that it would not constitute a treaty violation.  In 2015, some Chinese believed that DARPA was doing bioweapons research and put faith in technological innovation to weaponize "living organisms" and create "non-traditional combat styles."

Also by 2019, multiple research studies had warned that Chinese bat coronaviruses were a "time bomb" for humans, like SARS in 2003.  By November, the bomb exploded: a likely Patient Zero from Hubei.

China publicized its efforts into bat virus research and hired foreign help. The Chinese were definitely working hard in Wuhan, and in 12 years, they had nearly doubled the virus discoveries of the rest of the world over 200 years.

Was it an accident?  Some things weren't: as policymakers fretted about China weaponizing its control over medical exports, Chinese laboratories were secretly sequencing their first samples of novel coronavirus and seeing pneumonia patients with a SARS-like virus in Wuhan.

Chinese doctors were silenced as hospitals were vaguely warned about "pneumonia of unclear cause," and the first official reports to health agencies were made at the very end of 2019.  Dozens were infected by this time.  At the new year, Chinese authorities were ordering destruction of the earliest virus samples and warning each other of their danger.  By January 6, China warned the world of a mysterious illness but not that it had a new SARS-like virus.  On the 9th, China finally made the DNA public, roughly seven weeks after discovery.

Despite China's strong evidence of human-to-human transmission (sick doctors and similarity to SARS), the WHO heard the opposite from Wuhan and failed to warn the world.  The U.S. CDC warned doctors about respiratory illness in recent travelers to Wuhan anyway, four days before the WHO recommended no travel restrictions on China.

Shortly after finding a U.S. patient zero but before testing could confirm, the CDC instituted public health screening at airports and created a National Health Commission to go to Wuhan.  Members arrived the day after Wuhan hosted 100,000 people for the World's Largest Potluck Supper before millions traveled for New Year's in the "World's Largest Human Migration."

Next, China confirmed what it knew for weeks: human-to-human transmission was happening.  As the virus spread but the lone known U.S. patient improved, Trump banned travel to China.  The media were apoplectic at his racism.

China supplied statistics daily, but there were inconsistencies: social media posts about, e.g., stacks of bodies unlike official data, before the posters vanished.  China refused help and expelled journalists.  When asked if the virus is from bioweapons research, the Chinese ambassador told CBS, "It's true that a lot is still unknown."

China published a threat in its state news outlet: should the USA continue its trade practices, the Chinese will put export controls on medicine and drown the USA in a sea of coronavirus.  The propaganda mills ramped up and obfuscated.  China sold faulty equipment after buying tons throughout the West and called everyone racist.  One week after the threat, the WHO declared a pandemic, and a national emergency was declared next.

Is it possible to have biowarfare not based on a deliberate release of a disease, but based on a predictable accident, promulgated by lies and made worse by withholding medicine?  If such a thing is possible, it is lucky the virus is not worst-case: if this were SARS 2.0, as China likely thought in December, the death rate could be 15% overall.

If this were SARS 2.0, we'd be in a lot more trouble. 

A pseudonymous recent graduate of a top American law school, J. Paul Oso is a top researcher and writer whose collaborative work with law firms and think-tanks has made history.

Image: Gage Skidmore via Flickr.

Rep. Adam Schiff, of Mueller investigation and impeachment fame, is proposing an "independent" commission to examine why the country was so unprepared for the pandemic.  In an effort to be helpful, I'd like to humbly offer some guidance.

In 1999, two Chinese generals published an influential treatise that said China should not be bound by Western rules and methods of war.  Treaties were written by Westerners to maintain their military advantage over China.  For defense, China should do anything to win — nothing is off the table, and every occasion is an opportunity for strategy.

At that time, China still believed that the USA had engaged in impossible biowarfare in Korea.  China signed the Biological Weapons Convention in 1984 (12 years after drafting), agreeing provided other states were not in violation.  They privately felt that the unenforceable treaty was a "fraud of sham disarmament" and engaged in bioweapons research.  Frankly, they had a point: everyone was researching bioweapons for "defensive" purposes.

Probably from disclosures of their 20-year plan, the USA knew that China had "potential" dual-use bioweapons research in 2012 but that it would not constitute a treaty violation.  In 2015, some Chinese believed that DARPA was doing bioweapons research and put faith in technological innovation to weaponize "living organisms" and create "non-traditional combat styles."

Also by 2019, multiple research studies had warned that Chinese bat coronaviruses were a "time bomb" for humans, like SARS in 2003.  By November, the bomb exploded: a likely Patient Zero from Hubei.

China publicized its efforts into bat virus research and hired foreign help. The Chinese were definitely working hard in Wuhan, and in 12 years, they had nearly doubled the virus discoveries of the rest of the world over 200 years.

Was it an accident?  Some things weren't: as policymakers fretted about China weaponizing its control over medical exports, Chinese laboratories were secretly sequencing their first samples of novel coronavirus and seeing pneumonia patients with a SARS-like virus in Wuhan.

Chinese doctors were silenced as hospitals were vaguely warned about "pneumonia of unclear cause," and the first official reports to health agencies were made at the very end of 2019.  Dozens were infected by this time.  At the new year, Chinese authorities were ordering destruction of the earliest virus samples and warning each other of their danger.  By January 6, China warned the world of a mysterious illness but not that it had a new SARS-like virus.  On the 9th, China finally made the DNA public, roughly seven weeks after discovery.

Despite China's strong evidence of human-to-human transmission (sick doctors and similarity to SARS), the WHO heard the opposite from Wuhan and failed to warn the world.  The U.S. CDC warned doctors about respiratory illness in recent travelers to Wuhan anyway, four days before the WHO recommended no travel restrictions on China.

Shortly after finding a U.S. patient zero but before testing could confirm, the CDC instituted public health screening at airports and created a National Health Commission to go to Wuhan.  Members arrived the day after Wuhan hosted 100,000 people for the World's Largest Potluck Supper before millions traveled for New Year's in the "World's Largest Human Migration."

Next, China confirmed what it knew for weeks: human-to-human transmission was happening.  As the virus spread but the lone known U.S. patient improved, Trump banned travel to China.  The media were apoplectic at his racism.

China supplied statistics daily, but there were inconsistencies: social media posts about, e.g., stacks of bodies unlike official data, before the posters vanished.  China refused help and expelled journalists.  When asked if the virus is from bioweapons research, the Chinese ambassador told CBS, "It's true that a lot is still unknown."

China published a threat in its state news outlet: should the USA continue its trade practices, the Chinese will put export controls on medicine and drown the USA in a sea of coronavirus.  The propaganda mills ramped up and obfuscated.  China sold faulty equipment after buying tons throughout the West and called everyone racist.  One week after the threat, the WHO declared a pandemic, and a national emergency was declared next.

Is it possible to have biowarfare not based on a deliberate release of a disease, but based on a predictable accident, promulgated by lies and made worse by withholding medicine?  If such a thing is possible, it is lucky the virus is not worst-case: if this were SARS 2.0, as China likely thought in December, the death rate could be 15% overall.

If this were SARS 2.0, we'd be in a lot more trouble. 

A pseudonymous recent graduate of a top American law school, J. Paul Oso is a top researcher and writer whose collaborative work with law firms and think-tanks has made history.

Image: Gage Skidmore via Flickr.