Though some experts poo poo the notion, it sure looks like the worldwide Covid 19 pandemic originated at a Chinese bioweapons laboratory.
There seems to be no definitive information on the source of the disease which has infected much of the world. But there is a good deal of evidence that the first infections were in people near a lab in Wuhan, an industrial city in central China.
The notion that is most easily dismissed is that the release of the Covid disease was a deliberate act. That seems unlikely since Covid also spread in China. It is interesting, however, that the Chinese somehow controlled its impact.
By early October China had experienced about 90,000 cases of Covid 19 and less than 5,000 deaths. By that time the United States, which has a far smaller population than China, had seen seven million cases and more than 200,000 deaths. The United States has a population of 331 million and China has 1.4 billion people.
That’s quite a large difference in impact and the difference is unexplained. And keep in mind that America has one of the world’s best medical communities. It is better able to manage such health crises than much of the rest of the world. Why the impact on China should be so much lighter than on the United States is a mystery.
The fact that China is obviously doing experiments that could support biomedical warfare is unsurprising. Many of the world’s leading nations, including the United States, have had such laboratories at one time or another.
It’s unlikely that the purpose of such labs is offensive warfare since such diseases are difficult to control and the impact on the originating nation could be heavy. Preventing such unwanted impacts would presumably require that the originating nation somehow be inoculated before the agent is released. Doing that without the word getting out to the rest of the world would be difficult if not impossible.
Having to worry about such things is not a new problem. The world has long been aware that deadly bioweapons are a definite possibility. And the work of many of the laboratories — past and present — has presumably focused on a plan of attack to counter the health impacts of release, whether intentional or accidental.
My generation and others before and after mine had to grow up worrying about an irresponsible enemy launching nuclear-tipped missiles. For quite a few years our schools conducted drills on ducking under desks to minimize the impact of a nuclear explosion in the area. These days the kids are more likely to do active shooter drills.
Since the imagination of many children can exaggerate even a small threat into something terrifying, getting through childhood with one’s sanity intact could be a challenge.
But somehow most of us managed. The threat of nuclear annihilation is not something that can ever be totally dismissed. Crackpots can acquire considerable authority, sometimes even winning political office and national leadership.
The earth is still a relatively peaceful place and the worries about such disasters are not top of the mind for most of us. They never totally go away and political leaders should be prepared to deal with both the real threat and the worries of their people.
It’s the world we live in.
Tom Brennan is an Anchorage columnist and author of six books. He was a reporter/columnist for The Anchorage Times and an editor and columnist at The Voice of The Times.