Expat thoughts….

by Expat Life
COVID-19

My secretary was rushed to hospital last night suffering from cold symptoms, fever, diarrhoea and headaches. This was after spending this week in our office where I and several others have been in close proximity! The doctors quite rightly conducted all the necessary tests on her and in the meantime, she was put into an isolation ward (I wonder how many of the other patients had Covid and will she catch it, if she didn’t have it already)? I know that SE Asia is on lockdown at the moment because of WuFlu but I think that the hysteria across the globe is perhaps a little over dramatic.

40,000 Europeans die every year from influenza in the European Union. Over 12,000 people died in road traffic accidents in Thailand alone last year. Yet just over 3,000 people have died from Covid wordwide. Whilst this is a huge number of people to be affected this is still a small number when considered in the wider context.  Although I am sure that some governments are suppressing the truth.

Iran seems to be leading the race in the truth stakes, but I guess that with the US sanctions they have no real reason to lie. They say now that the swine-flu pandemic of 2009 may have killed up to 203,000 people worldwide – 10 times higher than the first estimates based on the number of cases confirmed by lab tests, according to a new analysis by an international group of scientists. Researching on the internet I see all manner of claims.

Apparently The Wuhan Institute of Virology is a research institute administered by the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) on virology, and is located in Jiangxia District, Wuhan, Hubei, China. In 2015, the Institute opened the first biosafety level 4 (BSL–4) laboratory to be built in mainland China.

In February 2020, the New York Times reported that a team led by Shi Zhengli (Shi is a Chinese virologist and writer, and her colleague Cui Jie found that the SARS virus originated in bats. Shi is a member of the Virology Committee of the Chinese Society for Microbiology) at the Institute were the first to identify, analyse and name the genetic sequence of the Novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), and upload it to public databases for scientists around the world to understand, and publish papers in Nature.

In February 2020, the Institute applied for a patent in China for the use of remdesivir, an experimental drug owned by Gilead Sciences, which the Institute found inhibited the virus invitro; in a move which also raised concerns regarding international intellectual property rights. In a statement, the Institute said it would not exercise its new Chinese patent rights “if relevant foreign companies intend to contribute to the prevention and control of China’s epidemic”.

The Institute was rumoured as a source for the 2019–20 coronavirus outbreak as a result of allegations of bioweapon research, which was debunked as a conspiracy theory by The Washington Post in a piece titled: “Experts debunk fringe theory linking China’s coronavirus to weapons research”. The Post cited US experts who explained why the Institute was not suitable for bioweapon research, that most countries had abandoned bioweapons as fruitless, and that there was no evidence that the virus was genetically engineered. 

In February 2020, The Financial Times reported from virus expert and global lead coronavirus investigator, Trevor Bradford, who said that “The evidence we have is that the mutations (in the virus) are completely consistent with natural evolution”.

During January and February 2020, the Institute was subject to further conspiracy theories, and concerns that it was the source of the outbreak through accidental leakage, which it publicly refuted. Members of the Institute’s research teams were also subject to various conspiracy theories, including Shi, who made various public statements defending the Institute. While Ebright refuted several of the conspiracy theories regarding the WIV, he told BBC China that this did not represent the possibility of the virus being “completely ruled out” from entering the population due to a laboratory accident.

I have even read that Covid was a virus that the Chinese had created to solve its growing ageing problem? I am sure that is not the case, but it is odd that it seems to be an old people’s disease and one that attacks people who live in polluted cities, have bad lungs or respiratory problems. Milan in Northern Italy is more polluted than Bangkok as is Tehran.

Anyway, help is at hand as The Jenner Institute in the UK (part of the Nuffield Department of medicine at Oxford University) has ‘apparently’ come up with a vaccine that is working well on mice, rats and ‘apparently’, on ‘prisoners’. I am sure that many other research facilities around the world will have found a vaccine within the month. I have even read that the Chinese released it to hit the US Stock Market – the things that you read on the internet…

As for Thailand, good news – it was rated 6th in the world by the Johns Hopkins University amongst a total of 195 countries for the world’s strongest health security.

However, I had a friend arrive from Taiwan last week and he swept through the airport without being checked at all. He saw many staff, cleaners, duty free and airport staff not wearing masks (where was Deputy Prime Minister Anutin and his high-handed speeches about deporting farang who refused masks at his press call)! Practice what you preach Sir.

My friend also commented that he was more than a little concerned with the Thai BioMetric system in Immigration where everyone was putting their dirty little fingers. The secret is to carry a pack of Dettol wipes, hand sanitisers and face masks (if you can still manage to find and buy them in Thailand)!

Hey ho…

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