The Covid pandemic could have been prevented and contained in Wuhan, a professor has claimed in a damning book revealing Chinese mistakes that allowed the virus to spread around the world and kill millions of people.
‘Wuhan: How China’s Covid-19 Outbreak Spilled Out of Control’, by lead author Professor Dali Yang, was published on Friday and explores the pandemic in forensic detail.
Professor Yang reaches the devastating conclusion that the pandemic, which began with the first known patients in the eastern Chinese city in late December 2019, was not inevitable.
The book explores key events that occurred before the lockdown was imposed in Wuhan, including how a massive banquet was held on January 18 at which more than 100,000 people gathered despite health officials knowing the virus was spreading. was spreading.
Professor Yang offers an in-depth analysis of who knew what and when about the virus, but barely touches on the origins of Covid-19. The Telegraph reports.
Workers in protective suits take part in disinfecting the Huanan Seafood Market, where the new coronavirus is believed to have first emerged, in Wuhan.
Professor Dali Yang reaches the devastating conclusion that the pandemic, which began with the first known patients in the eastern Chinese city in late December 2019, was not inevitable.
Instead, it looks at individual heroism seen during the pandemic, as well as flawed decision-making and lack of clarity as officials attempted to deal with a mysterious “pneumonia of unknown etiology.”
Professor Yang concludes that the global pandemic, which killed between 13.3 and 16.6 million people worldwide, could have been avoided.
“I think there was a significant chance that the pandemic could have been avoided,” Professor Yang, a political scientist at the University of Chicago, told The Telegraph.
The professor believes that the Chinese health authorities had “a remarkably strong hand of cards” in the first days of the outbreak of the virus.
“China is a country with significant capabilities, which could have advanced knowledge and response more quickly by the end of December 2019,” he added.
But he says any advantage was destroyed by an authoritarian political system that was unprepared for the emergency.
The pandemic dates back to when several Wuhan doctors at some of China’s top hospitals discovered that a “pneumonia of unknown etiology” in the city showed signs of “human-to-human” transmission.
Experts feared the virus was related to the SARS coronavirus that hit East Asia between 2002 and 2004. Doctor On told the local Center for Disease Control (CDC): “It is a disease we have never encountered before, It’s also a family (group of) infections. Something is definitely wrong!’
The coronavirus was confirmed by Vision Medicals, a Guangzhou-based laboratory, which examined “Patient A,” a 65-year-old man with severe pneumonia and “multiple faint, irregular opacities scattered throughout both lungs.”
Workers organize food supplies at the Tiantongyuan residential complex where residents are locked down to stop the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus on November 3, 2021 in Beijing.
Workers line up to get tested for COVID-19 at the Foxconn factory in Wuhan, central China’s Hubei province, Aug. 5, 2021.
“Due to the sensitivity of the diagnostic results,” the laboratory confirmed the positive SARS-like coronavirus test result to the hospital only by telephone and not in writing.
Doctors found it was 81 percent similar to the first SARS coronavirus outbreak. And screenshots that appeared online showed that the virus was instantly recognized as something that “must be treated in the same class as the plague” in order to be contained.
Despite mounting evidence pointing toward a possible pandemic, the local CDC was slow to react.
Gao Fu, director general of the national CDC, only spoke about the Wuhan outbreak through social media on December 30.
And while it acted quickly with emergency responses, the following weeks were marked by errors, censorship and political interests that failed to stop the rampant spread of the virus.
Medical workers perform hemodialysis treatment on a uremic patient recovering from COVID-19 infection at Hankou Hospital in Wuhan in March 2020.
‘The first week of January became a fundamental turning point in managing the outbreak. Just the wrong kind,’ the book states. “The lack of action before January 20 was monumental.”
One of the biggest mistakes was failing to respond to several cases in Wuhan that were not linked to the Huanan seafood market, the location of the first clusters.
Professor Yang suggests that when the market was closed, people believed the virus was under control and could spread amid a false sense of security.
Other factors that contributed to working against containment of the virus was China’s political tradition of suppressing information to maintain social stability.
“Clearly many (doctors) are heroes, but if you read between the lines, they were also acting within limitations,” Professor Yang said.
«It is clear that this is not a black and white image, but rather a range of grays. Some of the most heroic doctors also turned out to be those who may not have spoken up as they should. “It is a very complicated panorama.”
Doctors who spoke out were reprimanded by police and infections among hospital staff were covered up.
Even as Wuhan approached lockdown, high-profile events such as Chinese New Year celebrations were still on display to try to show that everything was under control.
This photo taken on February 24, 2020 shows medical staff treating patients infected with the COVID-19 coronavirus at a hospital in Wuhan, central China’s Hubei Province.
It was Taiwan’s Dr. Chuang Yin-ching who said the outbreak was much worse than feared on January 13, 2020. When he returned, Taiwan issued a travel alert for Wuhan and tightened border controls.
But in Wuhan, the severity of the virus continued to be downplayed and it fell to Dr Zhong Nanshan, 83, a trusted veteran of the first SARS epidemic, to warn that Covid was “certainly transmissible from human to human”.
He confirmed that cases were being seen in Beijing, Guangdong, Shanghai and Zhejiang and even abroad, in Japan, South Korea and Thailand. At that time, China was put on alert and citizens were advised to wear masks.
However, New Year celebrations were still held in Wuhan and Hubei provinces, and residents were invited to apply for 200,000 free passes to visit iconic sites. Local media praised the artists for continuing despite being sick.
When Wuhan was cut off from the rest of the world on January 23, some 500,000 people had left the country for the holidays.