The Thin Man solves the COVID case
Dashiell Hammett's urbane sleuth, Nick Charles, was brilliantly portrayed by the suave Golden Age actor, William Powell, in the celebrated Thin Man movies of the 1930s and '40s. The sleek, radiant Myrna Loy played his perfect wife, Nora. The highlight of each film in the series, other than the lively banter between Nick and Nora, came in the last reel, when Nick would assemble the suspects and solve the case.
Let's imagine that Nick Charles is called in to solve the COVID mystery. The following scene unfolds in an elegant suite at the Plaza Hotel in New York. All the suspects are present, with Detective Guild of the NYPD standing by. This is, of course, fiction, entirely a product of imagination.
Nick takes the floor.
"I don't have to tell our distinguished guests that we're dealing with a most unusual and highly complex case. Hundreds of thousands of our fellow citizens have lost their lives. The national economy has been slain. Small businesses in every city and town have gone kaput, never to open their doors again. Millions of lives have been disrupted, the population demoralized. All due to a pandemic that suddenly arose, in an obscure corner of the world, a hemisphere away. Or so we've been led to believe. But I can tell you that the guilty parties are in this room."
Murmurs of dismay erupt from the startled guests.
Nick continues. "Let's start with you, Mr. Gates. Bill Gates, one of the wealthiest men in the world. Entrepreneur and philanthropist. Five years ago, Mr. Gates, you organized the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness. You and a network of global partners would get out in front of nature. You would create your own lethal viruses. The idea was to stockpile new vaccines to head off epidemics before they had a chance to emerge."
Gates interrupts. "What are you implying, Charles? That it was wrong to try to end suffering and disease?"
"Of course not," Nick counters. "No, your crime was hubris. Have you ever heard of the legend of King Canute? He installed his throne at the seashore and ordered the tides to roll back and cease splashing on his divine feet. Canute wasn't a fool, Mr. Gates. He was actually trying to teach his courtiers an object lesson: that there are limits even to the sovereign power of a great monarch. But you must have been reading your own publicity. You thought you could command deadly microbes to crouch obediently in their Petri dishes, like lions in a cage, while you were acclaimed for your benevolence and generosity. A risky prospect at best. But you found a willing partner in our next guest, Dr. Fauci."
All eyes turn to the immunologist, who manages an impassive stare.
"Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. You at least were wise enough not to try to cultivate a killer virus in the United States. So you arranged for the process to be carried out in a Chinese backwater."
"You can't prove it," Fauci insists, deflecting the allegation with a smirk.
"That's for a jury to decide. Your friend, Peter Daszak, sitting beside you, needed money to finance the gain-of-function procedure in Wuhan. It had to come from somewhere, and it wasn't from the Tooth Fairy. It came from the National Institutes of Health. Either you authorized that transaction, Dr. Fauci, or you were asleep at the switch."
The smirk fading, Fauci lapses into a stony silence.
"When the Franken-virus went AWOL from the lab in which it was hatched," Nick resumes, "the People's Republic of China, the most unscrupulous regime on Earth, handed it off to the rest of the world like a hot potato. That's where you came in, Mr. Bourla. Mr. Albert Bourla, a captain of industry — the pharmaceutical industry, to be exact. CEO of Pfizer. Your company conjured up a vaccine — if you want to call it that — in record time, by some genetic sleight-of-hand. I congratulate you on the rapidity of its production.
"You reaped billions as the serum was distributed to a terrified world. But there were problems with the shot, as you well knew, and which your minions were made to conceal. When it became evident that the vaccine wasn't what it was cracked up to be, you saw an opportunity for a further windfall. You pushed one expensive booster shot after another, while more people got sick and died because the so-called vaccine degraded the immune system of everyone who received it."
Bourla points an accusing finger at Fauci. "Don't blame me! Blame him! He was the regulator, the authority. He had all my data!"
"I was just following the science," a defensive Fauci maintains.
With a wink at Nora, Nick cuts him off. "No, like Mr. Gates here, you were following your ego. Science is, or should be, trial and error. Endless experimentation. Testing new approaches. Instead, to protect your reputations — and investments — you, Gates, and Bourla conspired to yank out of the hands of every doctor and nurse in the country cheap, safe, proven remedies successfully deployed against the virus elsewhere.
"Instead of the government regulating Pfizer, Pfizer regulated the Food and Drug Administration. That's the only way any of this makes sense."
Letting that sink in, Nick turns to the remaining suspects who have not so far been addressed. "And while we're on the subject of government, let's not forget our esteemed public servants. Mayor Bowser. Mayor Garcetti. Former mayor de Blasio. Governor Whitmer. Newsom. Hochul.
"You took the job, but you couldn't stand the heat. You were afraid. Afraid of bad press, afraid of being accused of not doing enough. So you took the easy way out. You kowtowed to the line handed down by Fauci and Bourla, and the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security — an entity, by the way, funded by Mr. Gates. Covering your fannies with lockdowns and mandates, you became accessories to criminal misconduct, if not involuntary manslaughter. Or worse. I believe that's charged as a felony in this jurisdiction.
"Here's your motives, Guild. Vanity, greed, and fear. Run 'em in, the lot of 'em. What do I have to do, wrap them up in cellophane for you?"