What did they know and when?
by Martin Harris 17/4/2020
Note: Emphasis in the quotes and excerpts are mine MH.
The World Health Organization Tweeted, on 14 January 2020, the following statement:
And yet, according to a science journal report published January 23, 2020:
…by January 10, 2020, researchers from the Shanghai Public Health Clinical Center & School of Public Health and their collaborators released a full genomic sequence of 2019-nCoV to public databases, exemplifying prompt data sharing in outbreak response. Preliminary analyses indicate that 2019-nCoV has some amino acid homology to SARS-CoV and may be able to use ACE2 as a receptor. This has important implications for predicting pandemic potential moving forward. The situation with 2019-nCoV is evolving rapidly, with the case count currently growing into the hundreds. Human-to-human transmission of 2019-nCoV occurs, as evidenced by the infection of 15 health care practitioners in a Wuhan hospital.https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2759815
First known person-to-person transmission of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in the USA :
—a woman in her 60s—returned from China in mid-January, 2020. One week later, she was hospitalised with pneumonia and tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. Her husband (Patient 2) did not travel but had frequent close contact with his wife. He was admitted 8 days later and tested positive for SARS-CoV-2
I would call 14/1/2020 “Mid January”, wouldn’t you?
Then on 28th January:
The first human-to-human transmission of the Wuhan coronavirus in Europe has been reported in Germany, where a man was infected by a colleague who had been in China, fuelling anxieties about the potential ease of international spread.https://www.theguardian.com/science/2020/jan/28/germany-confirms-first-human-coronavirus-transmission-in-europe
And three days prior, 25 January, the following was published:
Since December 2019, China has been experiencing a large outbreak of a novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) which can cause respiratory disease and severe pneumonia. We estimated the basic reproduction number R0 of 2019-nCoV to be around 2.2 (90% high density interval: 1.4-3.8), indicating the potential for sustained human-to-human transmission. Transmission characteristics appear to be of similar magnitude to severe acute respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus (SARS-CoV) and pandemic influenza, indicating a risk of global spread.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/32019669
So let’s go back to 5th January. From The WHO:
Disease outbreak news
5 January 2020
On 31 December 2019, the WHO China Country Office was informed of cases of pneumonia of unknown etiology (unknown cause) detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province of China. As of 3 January 2020, a total of 44 patients with pneumonia of unknown etiology have been reported to WHO by the national authorities in China. Of the 44 cases reported, 11 are severely ill, while the remaining 33 patients are in stable condition. According to media reports, the concerned market in Wuhan was closed on 1 January 2020 for environmental sanitation and disinfection.
The causal agent has not yet been identified or confirmed. On 1 January 2020, WHO requested further information from national authorities to assess the risk.
National authorities report that all patients are isolated and receiving treatment in Wuhan medical institutions. The clinical signs and symptoms are mainly fever, with a few patients having difficulty in breathing, and chest radiographs showing invasive lesions of both lungs.
According to the authorities, some patients were operating dealers or vendors in the Huanan Seafood market. Based on the preliminary information from the Chinese investigation team, no evidence of significant human-to-human transmission and no health care worker infections have been reported...
Let’s pause right there. Acting on information from the Chinese investigation team. OK. The next word glares out (as I have emphasized), “SIGNIFICANT”.
So the Chinese investigators knew as far back as the beginning of January, of human to human transmission cases but didn’t consider them “significant” despite previous versions of SARS displaying human-human transmission potential and capability?
The report ends with:
Based on information provided by national authorities, WHO’s recommendations on public health measures and surveillance of influenza and severe acute respiratory infections still apply.
WHO does not recommend any specific measures for travellers. In case of symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness either during or after travel, travellers are encouraged to seek medical attention and share travel history with their healthcare provider.
WHO advises against the application of any travel or trade restrictions on China based on the current information available on this event.
So there you go.
-The WHO knew enough to know the risks and potential for transmission and yet advised against travel or trade restrictions on China, 5th January.
-Nine days later they Tweeted to the world that there was “no clear evidence of human to human transmission”.
-At the same time as the Tweet went out, the first known human-human transmission was underway in the USA.
-The first transmission case in Europe was confirmed to the media before the month was up.
Even at this critical point in late January, with transmission cases fully confirmed and international cases linked to Chinese contacts established, the WHO continued to resist travel restrictions, repeating it’s 5th January advice:
WHO advises against the application of any restrictions of international traffic based on the information currently available on this event.https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/situation-reports/20200129-sitrep-9-ncov-v2.pdf?sfvrsn=e2c8915_2
And yet a read of this same report indicates that the WHO considered the risk level “high” and displayed a map indicating cases as far reaching as Australia and Arabia. See for yourself at the link.