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NR throws Cold Water on Early Covid-19 exposure Theories

Unfortunately, You Probably Just Had the Flu in December or January

It’s easy to see the appeal of the theory out there, contending that the coronavirus came to America earlier than the medical community thinks, that a lot of us suffered anything from “a bad flu” to a “weird flu” in December (or even November) and that a lot of us are walking around having already beaten the virus. It is reassuring, even confidence-building, to think that many of us are already full of antibodies that can terminate SARS-CoV-2, and that we’re a lot closer to herd immunity than the medical community thinks.

I wish this were true. But there are three big pieces of counterevidence, indicating this theory is not true.

The first counterevidence is strain testing.

Nextstrain is an open-source project publishing and analyzing the genomic data of the virus — tracking the minor changes in its DNA as it grows and mutates. (That sounds ominous, thanks to sci-fi films, but most mutations are very minor and don’t really change how the virus works.) So far, all of the collected genomic data of the cases in the United States fall in line with what is already known, with the first confirmed case being in diagnosed in Snohomish County, Wash., on January 21; he had returned to Washington on January 15 after traveling to visit family in Wuhan, China. No one has found any genomic data suggesting a strain of SARS-CoV-2 had been floating around the West Coast or anywhere else in the U.S. from November or December, or even early January.

The second piece of counterevidence comes from flu tests. The Seattle Flu Study went back and reviewed thousands the samples it had taken in an ongoing study of flu outbreaks in and around that city. Out of 3,600 samples taken in January and 3,308 samples taken in February, the first test that showed SARS-CoV-2 was on February 21.

One of the reasons people think they may have had coronavirus in late 2019 or January 2020 is that this has been a particularly bad flu season — with two potent strains going around, and this has been the worst flu season for children’s hospitalizations in a decade. Ironically, one of the arguments we saw thrown around early in this epidemic was that the coronavirus death toll was less than the flu, because “the flu kills 80,000 Americans per year, and we don’t shut down the country,” etc. So far this flu season, the CDC estimates the flu has killed 24,000 Americans.

As of this writing, the U.S. death toll from COVID-19 is 22,115.

The third, and perhaps most visually powerful piece of counterevidence, comes from what we’re seeing in the hospitals in New York City, as well as places like northern Italy and Spain. This is what happens when SARS-CoV-2 gets into an oblivious and unprepared population. No one in the United States even knew about COVID-19 in January; onset of symptoms in the first recorded patient was December 1, at least according to the study in The Lancet.

If SARS-CoV-2 was floating around oblivious American communities in November and December, we should have seen much higher rates of hospitalization and death, particularly among the elderly and immunocompromised several weeks later. Other places in the country would be in the horrific situation that New York City is in now.

New York City leaders cannot blame the dire state of their city entirely on population density. Yes, ten of the eleven most densely populated communities in America are in the New York City metropolita... But four of the top 17 are in Los Angeles, and L.A. county has 9,192 cases, while New York City has 102,208. This country has lots of densely populated cities and neighborhoods, but no community has been hit anywhere as severely as the Big Apple. It’s not even close. New Orleans and Detroit are looking bad on a per-capita basis — meaning the number of cases and deaths per 100,000 people.

If SARS-CoV-2 had been in American communities earlier, we would have seen massive outbreaks of cases like this earlier.

If the argument is, “But New York City mayor Bill de Blasio is a doofus,” well . . . yeah. But New York City brought together several bad factors: its status of one of the world’s top international travel hubs, widespread use of crowded public transportation, numerous daily large gatherings like Broadway shows and sporting events, thousands of people using the same doorknobs, stairway railings, elevator buttons, ATM keyboards, etc., . . . and then on top of all that, a mayor who was declaring as late as March 11, “if you’re not sick, you should be going about your life.”

The U.S. National Security Team Doesn’t Think This Was a Lab Accident

If this account in the New York Times pans out, this is pretty strong evidence against the “laboratory accident” theory:

With his skeptical — some might even say conspiratorial — view of China’s ruling Communist Party, [deputy national security adviser Matthew] Pottinger initially suspected that President Xi Jinping’s government was keeping a dark secret: that the virus may have originated in one of the laboratories in Wuhan studying deadly pathogens. In his view, it might have even been a deadly accident unleashed on an unsuspecting Chinese population.

During meetings and telephone calls, Mr. Pottinger asked intelligence agencies — including officers at the C.I.A. working on Asia and on weapons of mass destruction — to search for evidence that might bolster his theory.

They didn’t have any evidence. Intelligence agencies did not detect any alarm inside the Chinese government that analysts presumed would accompany the accidental leak of a deadly virus from a government laboratory. But Mr. Pottinger continued to believe the coronavirus problem was far worse than the Chinese were acknowledging. Inside the West Wing, the director of the Domestic Policy Council, Joe Grogan, also tried to sound alarms that the threat from China was growing.

It’s one thing for an authoritarian and secretive government to cover up a lab accident that had catastrophic consequences. But it’s another thing for that kind of government to cover up a lab accident that had catastrophic consequences without leaving any sign that they’re covering anything up.

Then again . . . the Chinese government is now currently acting like they’re trying to cover up a scandal:

China has imposed restrictions on the publication of academic research on the origins of the novel coronavirus, according to a central government directive and online notices published by two Chinese universities, that have since been removed from the web.

Under the new policy, all academic papers on Covid-19 will be subject to extra vetting before being submitted for publication. Studies on the origin of the virus will receive extra scrutiny and must be approved by central government officials, according to the now-deleted posts.

Gee, that doesn’t sound like a government that has anything to hide, now does it?

5 Replies
Senior Contributor

Re: NR throws Cold Water on Early Covid-19 exposure Theories

I had something in mid Feb. that lasted 3 days. Symptoms of Flu. Never went to the doc, never was tested.  I probably caught it from 4 others that had it that work with me in close proximity.  3 of those went and tested and were positive for Flu "A". Probably what I had ...... ???? ..... who knows since I didn't get a test. Same with Covidiot45 , until people test specifically for it, to think or guess that you have it/had it is asinine.  I do believe the social distancing has had a major effect on curbing it for now.  It will be interesting to see if WI spikes in a couple weeks due to the exposure from voting. 

Senior Contributor

Re: NR throws Cold Water on Early Covid-19 exposure Theories

After the events of the last quarter century involving the FBI, the CIA, CDC, WHO, and some others pardon my skepticism. 


Re: NR throws Cold Water on Early Covid-19 exposure Theories

I am 50/50 on it myself. I know that I was sick for all of February with something serious, and had thoughts even that maybe I die from the crap. Probably was a sinus infection or pneumonia coupled with a severe flu strain, and it did respond to amoxicillin, but it still makes you wonder. I don't think the Red Steele twenty years older would still be alive after that bout. I want to take the test as soon as it becomes available to see if I have already beat Covid-19 and have the antibodies.


Re: NR throws Cold Water on Early Covid-19 exposure Theories

Looking to find the same.  But was suspiciously affected later in March when more likely possible. And not deathly ill, but some of the mild and more subtle stuff. Me, and some in the close and extended family. Most definitely lost taste and smell for a number of days. And horrendous level of fatigue, or just plain tired. Took long naps after long nights of sleep and my wife mentioned she couldn’t recall me ever having napped in the daytime except for way back in the day when I was such a gunner pig breeder that I’d have certain sows that I absolutely had to stay up with at farrowing.

Biggest funky symptom was 11 mo grandson who along with what to seemed to be a cold and tough to break fever vomiting intermittently for days on end. With no other signs of stomach problems.  The primary symptom in otherwise asymptomatic small children from what I’ve been able to glean.

Little guy was over here a lot. Haven’t seen him other than a couple of times through the screen door or  across the yard from 15 ft away or on FaceTime for over a month.😢

Yes, would welcome the bunch of us being tested. Although some of the info coming out of Asia is saying that it can fire back up in people so the immunity thing might not be such a sure fire deal.

Did you ever have any experience with PRV in your hogs back in the day? They tried like hell to control it with isolation and quarantine and it was always a community spread situation. It took a safe, reliable and highly effective vaccine to make it go away. FWIW,  trying to fight and control it essentially bankrupted 2 generations of our family.

Also re: hogs. Was reading about the CV19  bug and saw a reference to Transmissible Gastroenteritis. Anybody who had hogs in the last 60 years should recognized what that is.


Re: NR throws Cold Water on Early Covid-19 exposure Theories

I had a low grade fever for most of February, never over 100.6, and threw up just about every other day. Same with the energy...for a guy that was always called the energizer bunny rabbit, I could hardly get out of bed most days. 

I never had hogs on any scale...I did have a couple of sows that my father gave to me for wages way back when, and after losing all the pigs on the last one to some mystery disease, I never raised a hog again. Maybe it was pseudo rabies...if I recall, the pigs were born unhealthy and died.