Facts about Covid-19: August 2020 Update
SPECIAL FEATURE, 3 Aug 2020
3 Aug 2020 – Fully referenced facts about Covid-19, provided by experts in the field, to help our readers make a realistic risk assessment.
“The only means to fight the plague is honesty.” (Albert Camus, 1947)
- According to the latest immunological studies, the overall lethality of Covid-19 (IFR) is about 0.1% to 0.3% and thus in the range of a severe influenza (flu).
- For people at high risk or high exposure (including health care workers), early or prophylactic treatment is essential to prevent progression of the disease.
- In countries like the US, the UK, and also Sweden (without a lockdown), overall mortality since the beginning of the year is in the range of a strong influenza season; in countries like Germany and Switzerland, overall mortality so far is in the range of a mild influenza season.
- In most places, the risk of death for the general population of school and working age is in the range of a daily car ride to work. The risk was initially overestimated because many people with only mild or no symptoms were not taken into account.
- Up to 80% of all test-positive persons remain symptom-free. Even among 70-79 year olds, about 60% remain symptom-free. About 95% of all people develop at most moderate symptoms.
- Up to 60% of all persons may already have a certain cellular background immunity to the new coronavirus due to contact with previous coronaviruses (i.e. cold viruses). The initial assumption that there was no immunity against the new coronavirus was not correct.
- The median age of the deceased in most countries (including Italy) is over 80 years (e.g. 86 years in Sweden) and only about 4% of the deceased had no serious preconditions. The age and risk profile of deaths thus essentially corresponds to normal mortality.
- In many countries, up to two thirds of all extra deaths occurred in nursing homes, which do not benefit from a general lockdown. Moreover, in many cases it is not clear whether these people really died from Covid-19 or from weeks of extreme stress and isolation.
- Up to 30% of all additional deaths may have been caused not by Covid-19, but by the effects of the lockdown, panic and fear. For example, the treatment of heart attacks and strokes decreased by up to 60% because many patients no longer dared to go to hospital.
- Even in so-called “Covid-19 deaths” it is often not clear whether they died from or with coronavirus (i.e. from underlying diseases) or if they were counted as “presumed cases” and not tested at all. However, official figures usually do not reflect this distinction.
- Many media reports of young and healthy people dying from Covid-19 turned out to be false: many of these young people either did not die from Covid-19, they had already been seriously ill (e.g. from undiagnosed leukaemia), or they were in fact 109 instead of 9 years old. The claimed increase in Kawasaki disease in children also turned out to be exaggerated.
- Most Covid-19 symptoms can also be caused by severe influenza (including pneumonia, thrombosis and the temporary loss of the sense of smell), but with severe Covid-19 these symptoms are indeed more frequent and more pronounced.
- Strong increases in regional mortality can occur if there is a collapse in the care of the elderly and sick as a result of infection or panic, or if there are additional risk factors such as severe air pollution. Questionable regulations for dealing with the deceased sometimes led to additional bottlenecks in funeral or cremation services.
- In countries such as Italy and Spain, and to some extent the UK and the US, hospital overloads due to strong flu waves are not unusual. Moreover, this year up to 15% of health care workers were put into quarantine, even if they developed no symptoms.
- The often shown exponential curves of “corona cases” are misleading, as the number of tests also increased exponentially. In most countries, the ratio of positive tests to tests overall (i.e. the positivity rate) remained constant at 5% to 20% or increased only slightly. In many countries, the peak of the spread was already reached well before the lockdown.
- Countries without lockdowns, such as Japan, South Korea, Belarus and Sweden, have not experienced a more negative course of events than many other countries. Sweden was even praised by the WHO and now benefits from higher immunity compared to lockdown countries. 75% of Swedish deaths happened in nursing facilities that weren’t protected fast enough.
- The fear of a shortage of ventilators was unjustified. According to lung specialists, the invasive ventilation (intubation) of Covid-19 patients, which is partly done out of fear of spreading the virus, is in fact often counterproductive and damaging to the lungs.
- Various studies have shown that the main routes of transmission of the virus are neither long-range aerosols (i.e. tiny particles floating in the air) nor smear infections (i.e. on surfaces), but direct contact and droplets produced when talking or coughing. However, in some circumstances, indoor aerosol transmission appears to be possible.
- There is still little to no scientific evidence for the effectiveness of cloth face masks in healthy and asymptomatic Experts warn that such masks may interfere with normal breathing and may become “germ carriers” if used repeatedly.
- Many clinics in Europe and the US remained strongly underutilized or almost empty during lockdowns and in some cases had to send staff home. Millions of surgeries and therapies were cancelled, including many cancer screenings and organ transplants.
- Several media were caught trying to dramatize the situation in hospitals, sometimes even with manipulative images and videos. In general, the unprofessional reporting of many media maximized fear and panic in the population.
- The virus test kits used internationally are prone to errors and can produce false positive and false negative results. Moreover, the official virus test was not clinically validated due to time pressure and may sometimes react positive to other common coronaviruses.
- Numerous internationally renowned experts in the fields of virology, immunology and epidemiology consider the measures taken to be counterproductive and recommend rapid natural immunization of the general population and protection of risk groups.
- At no time was there a medical reason for the closure of schools, as the risk of disease and transmission in children is extremely low. There is also no medical reason for small classes, masks or ‘social distancing’ rules in schools.
- Several medical experts described express coronavirus vaccines as unnecessary or even dangerous. Indeed, the vaccine against the so-called swine flu of 2009, for example, led to cases of severe neurological damage and lawsuits in the millions. In the testing of new coronavirus vaccines, too, serious complications and failures have already been reported.
- A global respiratory disease pandemic can indeed extend over several seasons, but many studies of a “second wave” are based on very unrealistic assumptions, such as a constant risk of illness and death across all age groups.
- In several places, nurses described an oftentimes fatal medical mismanagement of Covid patients due to questionable financial incentives and inappropriate medical protocols.
- The number of people suffering from unemployment, depression and domestic violence as a result of the measures has reached historic record levels. Several experts predict that the measures will claim far more lives than the virus itself. According to the UN 6 billion people around the world are at immediate risk of losing their livelihood.
- NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden warned that the “corona crisis” will be used for the permanent expansion of global surveillance. In several parts of the world, the population is being monitored by drones and facing serious police overreach during lockdowns.
- A 2019 WHO study on measures against pandemic influenza found that from a medical perspective, “contact tracing” is “not recommended in any circumstances”. Nevertheless, contact tracing apps have already become partially mandatory in several countries. In some countries, such “contact tracing” is carried out directly by the secret service.
- On the treatment of Covid-19
- Studies on Covid-19 lethality
- On the origin of SARS-CoV-2
- The evidence on face masks
- European Mortality Monitoring
A. General part
Pre-existing immunity against the new coronavirus
At the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, it was assumed that no immunity against the new coronavirus existed in the population. This was one of the main reasons behind the initial strategy of “flattening the curve” by introducing stay-at-home orders.
From March and April onwards, however, the first studies showed that a considerable part of the population already had a certain immunity to the new virus, acquired through contact with earlier coronaviruses (common cold viruses).
Further important studies on this topic were published in July:
- A new study from Germany came to the conclusion that up to 81% of people who have not yet had contact with the new coronavirus already have cross-reactive T-cells and thus a certain background immunity. This confirms earlier studies on T-cell immunity.
- In addition, a British study found that up to 60% of children and adolescents and about 6% of adults already have cross-reactive antibodies against the new coronavirus, which were created by contact with previous coronaviruses. This is probably another important aspect in explaining the very low rate of disease in children and adolescents.
- In the case of Singapore, a study published in the scientific journal Nature concluded that people who contracted SARS-1 in 2002/2003 still had T-cells that were reactive against the new SARS-2 coronavirus 17 years later. In addition, the researchers found cross-reactive T-cells, which were produced by contact with other, partly unknown coronaviruses, in about half of the people who had neither contracted SARS-1 nor SARS-2. The researchers suspect that the different distribution of such coronaviruses and T-cells may help explain why some countries are less affected than others by the new corona virus, regardless of the political and medical measures taken.
- Analysts have previously pointed out that many Pacific countries, and especially China’s neighbouring countries, have so far had very low Covid death rates, regardless of their population structure (young or old) and the measures taken (with or without lockdown, mass tests, masks, etc.). A possible explanation for this could be the spread of earlier coronaviruses.
- Harvard immunologist Michael Mina explained that the “drop in antibody concentration” after Covid disease, dramatized by some media, was “perfectly normal” and “textbook”. The body ensures long-term immunity through T-cells and memory cells in the bone marrow, which can quickly produce new antibodies when needed.
Other medical updates
Wuhan: A Harvard modelling study in the scientific journal Nature came to the conclusion that even in the Covid epicentre Wuhan, up to 87% of the infections went unnoticed, i.e. remained without symptoms or mild. This means that the Covid19 lethality (IFR) in Wuhan may also fall to about 0.1% or below. The Nature study confirms an earlier Japanese study in the journal BMC Medicine, which calculated an IFR of 0.12% for Wuhan already back in March.
However, Chinese authorities couldn’t yet know this comparatively low lethality in January and February and therefore built additional clinics at short notice, many of which eventually remained mostly unused. Only the systematic test results from South Korea and the cruise ship Diamond Princess showed that the lethality of the new corona virus in the general population is indeed lower than initially feared.
Italy: The Italian health authority ISS published a new analysis of the cause of death in about 5000 corona patients. According to this analysis, Covid was the direct cause of death in 89% of the cases. In 11%, other diseases such as heart problems, cancer or dementia were the primary cause of death. Covid was the sole cause of death in 28% of cases. It is also known that in about 4% of the deaths, no medical preconditions were present.
Covid mortality: In May, the US health authority CDC published a cautious “best estimate” of covid mortality (IFR) of 0.26% (assuming 35% asymptomatic infections). In July, a new IFR of 0.65% was published. However, this new value is not based on own calculations or new studies, but on a meta-study in which the existing literature was simply searched for all previous IFR values.
Thus, the meta-study mainly consists of previous modelling studies as well as “raw IFR values”, which are much too high compared to the actual, population-based IFR values from antibody studies. With few exceptions, the real IFR values are between 0.1% and 0.4%, and when mucosal and cellular immunity are taken into account, they are approximately 0.1% or less.
However, the virus has spread much faster than anticipated, thus causing a temporarilly high death rate in some places, especially if nursing homes and hospitals got affected.
Non-infectious virus fragments: The U.S. CDC points out that in most Covid patients, infectious virus particles are no longer detectable ten to fifteen days after the first symptoms. However, non-infectious virus fragments (RNA) can still be found up to three months after the first symptoms. This is likely to be a significant problem with regard to PCR tests, as many people who have long since ceased to be infectious still test positive, triggering far-reaching tracing and quarantine false-alarms.
Deaths with or by or without coronavirus: In England and some other countries it has been reported that all deceased persons who tested positive for the new coronavirus since the beginning of the year were counted as Covid deaths – regardless of the time of the test, a possible recovery, and the actual cause of death. In the US state of Colorado, it was found that about 10% of deaths were with but not from coronavirus. In other US states, further cases of “corona deaths” became known that in reality were test-positive homicide victims and motorcycle accidents.
Children and schools
It has been known since March that the risk of disease and transmission in children is minimal in the case of Covid19. The main reason for this is probably a pre-existing immunity due to frequent contact with previous coronaviruses (i.e. cold viruses). There was and is therefore no medical reason for the closure of primary schools, kindergartens and day-care centres and for special protective measures in schools.
In the meantime, further studies on this issue have been published:
- The British epidemiologist Professor Mark Woolhouse stated that there is not a single confirmed case of infection of a teacher by a pupil worldwide.
- Tracing pioneer Iceland found “not a single case where a child under 10 infected their parents.”
- A joint report from Sweden (without primary school closure) and Finland (with primary school closure) concluded that there was no difference in infection rates among children in the two countries.
- In the USA, three times more children up to 14 years of age have died of influenza than of Covid-19 (101 versus 31) since the beginning of the year, according to the CDC.
- A Canadian study found that most of the children with “Kawasaki-like” inflammatory symptoms had no corona infection at all. The disease in children is “very, very rare”, the researchers said.
- A German study came to the conclusion that children act epidemiologically “like brake blocks” and slow down the spread of the new corona virus.
Critical expert opinions
- The German virologist Hendrik Streeck advocates a pragmatic approach to the new coronavirus and targeted measures for people at high risk. According to Streeck, the long-term suppression of the virus and the hope for a possible vaccine are not sensible strategies.
- Professor Carl Heneghan, Director of the Oxford Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine, explains in an interview that there is still no evidence for the effectiveness of masks in the general population. A permanent suppression strategy like the one in New Zealand is not sensible and causes high damage in the long term. The lethality (IFR) of Covid-19 is about 0.1% to 0.3% and is thus comparable to previous flu epidemics and pandemics.
- The Swedish chief epidemiologist Anders Tegnell explains in an interview that eradication of the virus is not an option. In Sweden, the infections slowed down considerably even without a lockdown, and daily deaths now are close to zero. The evidence for the benefit of masks is still “very weak” and they might even be counterproductive. An introduction at this point in time would make no sense. The lethality of Covid-19 is between 0.1% and 0.5% and does not “radically differ” from influenza.
- The epidemiologist and systems biologist Professor Francois Balloux, Director of the British UCL Genetics Institute, explains in an article that Covid-19 is comparable to a pandemic (but not seasonal) influenza. The main difference is the age-risk distribution: while Covid-19 is mainly dangerous for older people, a pandemic influenza is also life-threatening for younger people and children. Professor Balloux points out that the “Russian influenza pandemic” of 1889 may have been triggered by the coronavirus OC-43, which is now considered one of the four typical cold viruses.
- The Swiss chief physician for infectiology, Dr. Pietro Vernazza, pleads for a “controlled natural immunization” of society as an alternative to the “eradication strategy”. In most cases, Covid-19 is mild and the actual mortality rate is about 0.1%, which is in the range of a severe influenza. The Swedes “did nothing wrong” with their strategy, according to Vernazza.
- The former director of the Institute of Immunology at the University of Bern, Professor Beda Stadler, also pleads for a controlled spread of the virus. The danger of the virus had been overestimated due to the false assumption of a lack of immunity. Professor Stadler is critical of compulsory masks and mass tests. Stadler, who is now emeritus, explains that many younger immunologists no longer dare to speak out publicly on the subject due to the extreme polarisation of the debate by politics and the media.
On the other hand, Professor Karin Mölling, the former head of the Department of Virology at the University of Zurich and one of the earliest critical voices on corona measures, has now partly changed her opinion: Due to the sometimes serious lung damage, the virus should not be underestimated and containment measures are important.
The clinical picture of Covid-19
The lower-than-expected lethality of Covid-19 should not hide the fact that the new coronavirus, due to its efficient use of the human ACE2 cell receptor, in some cases can lead to severe disease with complications in the lung, the vascular and nervous systems and other organs, some of which can persist for months.
While it is true that most of these symptoms can also occur in severe influenza (including thrombosis the temporary loss of the sense of smell), they are indeed more frequent and more pronounced in the novel Covid-19 disease.
In addition, even apparently “mild” disease (without hospitalization) can in some cases lead to protracted complications with breathing problems, fatigue or other symptoms. The US CDC came to the conclusion that after one month, about one third of the “mild” cases still showed such symptoms. Even in the 18 to 34-year-olds without preconditions, about 20% still had after-effects.
On the positive side, researchers at a German clinic recently reported good chances of recovery: “We can see that the lungs can heal well, even in patients who have had three weeks of intensive care”. After three months, 20% of the intensive care patients had healthy lungs again, and in the remaining patients a clear regeneration was visible.
Nevertheless, the primary goal should be to avoid a progression of the disease.
On the treatment of Covid-19
Note: Patients are asked to consult a doctor.
Many countries adopted the strategy of imposing a lockdown during or after a wave of infection, thereby locking already infected high-risk individuals in their homes without treatment until they developed severe breathing problems and needed intensive care treatment immediately. Even today, test-positive high-risk persons are often simply quarantined without treatment.
This is not an ideal approach. Numerous studies and doctors’ reports have now shown that for people at high risk or with high exposure, early treatment immediately on onset of the first typical symptoms is crucial to avoid disease progression and hospitalization.
Studies and medical reports from various countries in Asia and the West recommend a combination protocol of zinc (which inhibits the RNA replication of coronaviruses), the antimalarial agent HCQ (which promotes the cellular uptake of zinc and has other anti-viral properties), and, if necessary, an antibiotic (to prevent bacterial superinfections) and a blood thinner (to prevent thrombosis and lung embolism).
Yale professor and physician Harvey A. Risch argues in a recent commentary that early treatment with HCQ and zinc as well as an antibiotic has proven to be “highly effective”. In the USA alone, according to Professor Risch, 70,000 to 100,000 deaths could have been prevented by the systematic use of HCQ. Risch is therefore calling for an immediate and prescription-free release of this medication, as is already the case in many other countries.
Meanwhile, a bizarre battle has broken out in western industrialised countries over the use of low-cost HCQ, which has been used successfully and safely for decades in the prevention and treatment of malaria and several other diseases. This battle appears to be driven in part by political and commercial interests and may produce a great many casualties.
Opponents of HCQ went as far as publishing falsified studies and using lethal doses during trials, as Dr. James Todaro explains, who uncovered one of these frauds that fooled top science journals, the WHO and health experts worldwide.
Many of these anti-HCQ activities are connected to pharmaceutical company Gilead, which wants to sell a drug that is over a hundred times more expensive (Remdesivir), but which is only used on intensive care patients and has some severe side effects.
In addition, a potentially effective early treatment stands in the way of the billion-dollar global vaccination strategy being pursued by numerous governments, pharmaceutical companies and vaccine investor Bill Gates. Directors of vaccine companies have already made about one billion dollars with stock and option gains alone, even without yet delivering a vaccine.
The hope for a safe and effective vaccine, however, still seems questionable: Contrary to the positive media presentation, in the second test round of the RNA vaccine from the US company Moderna, 80% of the volunteers (average age 33 years and healthy) in the medium and high-dose groups reacted with moderate to severe side effects.
Read more: On the treatment of Covid-19
The effectiveness of face masks
Various countries are discussing or have already introduced mandatory face masks in the general population. In the updates of June and July, however, it was shown that the evidence for the effectiveness of cloth masks in the general population is still rather weak, contrary to what is reported in many media.
In previous influenza pandemics, cloth masks had no influence on the occurrence of infection. Despite masks, Japan had its last flu epidemic with more than five million diseased just one year ago, in January and February 2019. Even the outbreak of the Covid pandemic in Wuhan could not be stopped by the widespread use of masks there.
Due to the significantly lower hospitalisation and mortality rates of Covid-19 (compared to the original assumptions), masks are not necessarily required to “flatten the curve”. Masking only makes sense – if at all – in the context of a vaccination strategy that aims to suppress the virus until a vaccine is available.
BBC medical correspondent Deborah Cohen explained in mid-July that the partial update of the WHO recommendation on masks was due not to new evidence but “political lobbying”: “We had been told by various sources WHO committee reviewing the evidence had not backed masks but they recommended them due to political lobbying. This point was put to WHO who did not deny.”
The “political lobbying” is likely referring to the group “Masks for All”, which was founded by a “Young Leader” of the Davos forum and which is lobbying authorities and governments for a worldwide face mask obligation.
In connection with masks, the question also arises as to whether the new coronavirus can be transmitted over large areas by aerosols. According to experts, true aerosol transmission even outdoors still seems unlikely – otherwise the spread of the virus would have a different dynamic and, contrary to reality, would often be untraceable.
However, an aerosol-like transmission indoors – especially with closed air circulation by fans or during intensive activities such as singing and dancing – seems increasingly probable or certain due to various incidents.
In the case of aerosol transmission, however, cloth masks are likely to offer even less protection than against droplets due to their pore size and inaccurate fit. This was demonstrated, for example, by the corona outbreak at the German meat processor Toennies, which occurred at an air-conditioned workplace over a distance of up to eight metres despite the requirement to wear masks.
On the question of “asymptomatic transmission”, it can currently be said that true asymptomatic transmission still seems to be rare according to the WHO (which may explain the very low transmission rate in children), whereas pre-symptomatic transmission in the days before the first symptoms appear (with already high virus load) is very likely and may explain the rapid spread of the virus.
Pre-symptomatic transmission is also known from influenza, but the incubation period of influenza is much shorter, so this may be somewhat less relevant.
The following expert reviews and articles critically examine the effectiveness of cloth masks in the general population:
- Profs. Tom Jefferson and Carl Heneghan (Oxford): Masking lack of evidence with politics
- Dr. Lisa Brosseau and Dr. Margaret Sietsema, Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, University of Minnesota: Masks-for-all for COVID-19 not based on sound data
- Professor Michael T. Osterholm, Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, University of Minnesota: My views on cloth face coverings for the public for preventing COVID-19
- Naoya Kon: Cloth face masks offer zero shield against virus, a study shows
- Eliza McGraw: Everyone wore masks during the 1918 flu pandemic. They were useless.
The Swedish chief epidemiologist Anders Tegnell recently stated that the introduction of masks at this point in time, and even in public transport, would be “pointless” in view of the rapidly decreasing number of cases in Sweden. The Dutch government has stated that it will not in general recommend masks because the scientific evidence for their effectiveness is weak.
On the other hand, face masks are not harmless, as the following evidence shows:
- The WHO warns of various “side effects” such as difficulty breathing and skin rashes.
- Tests conducted by the University Hospital of Leipzig have shown that face masks significantly reduce the resilience and performance of healthy persons.
- A German psychological study with about 1000 participants found “severe psychosocial consequences” due to the introduction of mandatory face masks in Germany.
- The Hamburg Environmental Institute warned against the inhalation of chlorine compounds in polyester masks as well as problems in connection with disposal.
- The European rapid alert system RAPEX has already recalled 70 mask models because they did not meet EU quality standards and could lead to “serious risks”.
- In China, two boys who had to wear a mask during sports classes fainted and died.
- In the US, a car driver wearing an N95 (FFP2) mask fainted and died in an accident.
Conclusion: It is still possible that cloth masks can slow down the rate of infection in the general population, but the evidence for this is currently limited and the potential benefits are mainly relevant in the context of a long-term and still uncertain vaccination strategy.
Read more: Are face masks effective? The evidence.
Is Covid-19 a pure “test epidemic”? Certainly not.
Some particularly skeptical observers still seem to perceive Covid predominantly as a “test epidemic”. However, this position has been untenable for months already.
The best known “test epidemic” is the so-called swine flu of 2009/2010, a rather mild influenza virus that only caused worldwide anxiety due to mass testing and media panic. A commission of the Council of Europe later called the swine flu a “fake pandemic” and a “big pharma fraud”.
What was noteworthy at the time was that a few months earlier, the WHO changed its pandemic guidelines and removed the criterion of increased lethality. In addition, pharmaceutical companies signed secret contracts worth billions with governments for a vaccine that later led to sometimes serious neurological damage and had to be disposed of for the most part.
Finally, researchers discovered that the swine flu virus itself probably originated from vaccine research and was released through a leak (or worse).
On the other hand, due to its special characteristics – in particular the very efficient use of the ACE2 cell receptor – the new coronavirus is a dangerous and easily transmissible SARS virus which can cause severe damage to the lungs, blood vessels and other organs. The good fortune is that many people already have a certain immunity to the new virus or at least are able to neutralize it on the mucosal membrane.
Covid-19 is therefore a real and serious pandemic and comparable to the severe flu pandemics of 1957 (Asian flu) and 1968 to 1970 (Hong Kong flu). The comparison with the swine flu of 2009 is only possible because the deaths caused by swine flu were greatly exaggerated (and still are today).
(On the other hand, it should be remembered that during the 1968/1970 flu pandemic – or rather in the summer between the two main waves – the famous Woodstock festival was held and social life mostly went on as usual).
However, it can be argued that the real and serious Covid19 pandemic has been amplified by a “test pandemic” due to the mass testing in the general population, causing additional panic and very high costs.
Stanford Professor Scott Atlas argued already in May that mass testing in the general population is of little use and that testing should instead be limited to vulnerable institutions such as nursing homes and hospitals (including for visitors).
Daily mass testing is also not effective because, according to antibody studies, the virus is already much more widespread than PCR tests show, anyway.
Countries such as Japan, Sweden and Belarus have shown that the pandemic can be controlled without a lockdown and without mass testing – and in the case of Sweden and Belarus also without masks – as long as the sensitive facilities are protected.
Conclusion: Covid-19 is a real and serious pandemic comparable to the influenza pandemics of 1957 and 1968, but in addition to the real Covid-19 pandemic, there is indeed a “test pandemic” which causes additional panic and high costs.
The origin of the new coronavirus
The origin of the new SARS coronavirus remains unclear. However, researchers with access to Chinese documents were able to show in May that the closest related coronavirus was found in a mine in southwest China, where six miners contracted Covid-like pneumonia in 2012 and three of them died.
The miners’ illness was clinically virtually identical to today’s (severe) Covid-19, which is why some analysts have proposed to call the disease Covid-12 instead of Covid-19.
The Virological Institute in Wuhan received virus samples from the mine as well as from the tissue of the deceased miners in 2012 and 2013. It is conceivable that this virus escaped from the laboratory in autumn 2019.
In addition to the Chinese institute, however, the US health authority CDC and the US Department of Defense have also been shown to be working with SARS-like viruses from bats. The US NGO “Eco Health Alliance” cooperated on this issue with both the US Pentagon and the Virological Institute in Wuhan.
Direct transmission by an animal is also still conceivable, although previous candidates such as the well-known animal market in Wuhan or the Pangolin theory have been ruled out by experts in the meantime.
B. Countries and Regions
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