A Threat to Humanity

"When a new virus emerges, it takes months to create a vaccine for treatment. In the interim, only time and isolation can manage infection rates. Nor is there any remedy other than medicines that ease symptoms. The highly respected French epidemiologist Robert Sebag told me that, judging from past experience, it’s conceivable that up to 15 percent of those who contract the Wuhan virus could die. Chinese officials, though conceding that the virus is highly contagious (and more so than SARS), maintain that the more likely figure is 3.5 percent. This is, of course, largely guesswork for the time being. The only effective measure against the virus at this point is to isolate the sick to control contagion. But the source remains unknown, making management difficult; and not enough Chinese doctors exist—and not all are competent—to contain an illness spreading from city markets to the countryside.

Chinese Communism worsens the problem. According to Communist Party logic, all is well, and news that reflects poorly on the government must be suppressed. Any negative development, from a train accident to an epidemic, is harmful to the Party’s glorious and progressive image. Dissimulation is the norm throughout the land. In 2003, for example, China denied the SARS epidemic; once the virus had spread beyond its borders, Beijing’s admission came too late to do any good."