Commentary / Coronavirus

China Boomeranging

coronavirusSometime in late November the Chinese Communist Party apparat was aware that the ingredients of some sort of an epidemic were brewing in Wuhan. Soon after, it was also clear to them that a new type of coronavirus was on the loose, a threat they might have taken more seriously given the similar Chinese origins of the prior toxic SARS coronavirus and the resources of a Level 4 virology lab nearby.

Yet the government initially hid all that knowledge from its own people in particular and in general from the world at large. Translated into American terms, that disingenuousness ensured that over 10,000 Chinese nationals and foreigners living in China flew every day on direct flights into the United States (Washington and California especially) from late November to the beginning of February, until the Trump travel ban of January 31.

All this laxity was also known to the Communist apparat in Beijing, which must have been amused when Trump was roundly damned by his liberal critics as a xenophobe and racist for finally daring to stop the influx on January 31 — the first major leader to enact such a total ban.

Yet, no thanks to the Chinese, America, so far, has been comparatively lucky — despite the grave risks of damaging a multi-trillion-dollar economy with the strictest quarantining, isolation policies, and social distancing in its history. Half the country lives in the interior away from ports of entry on the coasts. Medical care, sanitation, hygiene, and meat markets operate on different premises than in China, the supposed fated global hegemon. Transparency in a consensual society together with a free-market economy is encouraging tens of millions of citizens to work in tandem and independently to figure out creative ways to ameliorate the epidemic, politically, medically, socially, and economically. The result is that as of mid-March, the U.S., the world’s foremost immigration destination and among the most visited of nations, had suffered fewer virus fatalities than some European countries a fifth or sixth of its population size.

No doubt when mass testing begins, the figures of known cases will soar, and fatalities will rise. Yet while we know pretty well the number of Americans who have died from the virus, we have in truth little idea of how many now carry it or how many have recovered from it, without knowing what sickened them or even whether they were ostensibly sick at all. In other words, the rate of new cases identified by testing may exceed the rate of new deaths, apprising us of a more precise — and perhaps lower — degree of viral toxicity.


Reprinted with Permission from - National Review by - Victor Davis Hanson

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