The Beginning of the Covid-19 Pandemic

How did we get to where we are with Covid-19?

Like many people throughout the world my professional and family life has been thrown into chaos and uncertainty by Covid-19, the virus that has rapidly infected peoples all over the globe in the last 3-4 months. I don’t believe that anyone has a clear understanding of exactly what happened, except perhaps those most responsible, but I have formed my own predictions of what the evidence will ultimately show. Whether my predictions of what the evidence will show turns out to be more or less accurate is certainly a matter of opinion at this point. In fact, we may never know with any degree of certainly what brought the world to this point.

By way of background, China is a nation with a rich history that was brought to it knees over the course of many decades. Following the collapse of the last of the Chinese dynasties in the early 1900’s, and a period of time which coincided with China being subjugated by foreign powers, China entered a period of Civil War. A weakened China was then invaded by the Japanese in the late 1930’s, which resulted in further humiliation. Following the defeat of Japan in 1945, at the end of World War II, China again entered a period of Civil War. This Civil War ended with the victory of Mao Zedong’s Communists defeating Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalists in 1949. The Nationalists subsequently fled to what is now Taiwan and the Communists took control over what is now “mainland” China.

China under the Communists, which followed a Marxist economic plan, continued its economic decline. The “Great Leap Forward” in the late 1950’s and the “Cultural Revolution” of the mid to late 1960’s further decimated China. Only with the death of Mao Zedong in 1976 and the ascension of Deng Xiaoping and the introduction of “market socialism” did China begin to recover some it’s former glory. Under Deng Xiaoping’s leadership through the leadership of his successors China underwent a period of tremendous economic growth in relative terms, China’s prestige in the world rose as well. Still, despite years of tremendous growth, China’s per capita gross domestic product is still below the world average.

With the ascension of Xi Jinping as “paramount leader” in 2012 and his consolidation of power, China has begun to turn away from the opening up to market forces that powered its growth since the 1970’s and embraced a more authoritarian and top down economic model.

Into this new China, a younger generation has grown up with the expectation that China will continue its rise, perhaps even into becoming the most powerful nation in the world. This younger generation is full of hope, energy, and national pride. The Chinese Communist Party, which has a monopoly on political power despite the fact it only has about 90 million members in a nation of 1.6 billion, relies on maintaining China’s image as a rising superpower throughout the world and at home in order to maintain its grip on power and placate the rising generation.

Into this general historical context the world wide Covid-19 crisis was born.

Specifically, in Hubei province in China are caves where bats live. These bats carry a plethora of viruses. These viruses have been known at times to infect humans and cause epidemics. Certain young, well educated, enthusiastic, and energetic scientists, those raised in the new China, sought to build their careers by collecting viruses from these bats to study them, most probably to develop treatments against future epidemics. In doing so they encountered the Covid-19 virus, a virus much more virulent and easily transmissible that they had ever encountered before. Either through a lack of careful controls, or despite their precautions, Covid-19 escaped and entered the general population of Wuhan, Hubei’s capital city.

Initially, the fact of the virus spreading throughout the population of Wuhan was probably either not known or not believed to be a very serious matter. As the virus spread though it became clear that a serious epidemic was in its beginning stages. Neither those responsible for allowing the virus to enter the population nor those in ultimate control of China, the Chinese Communist Party, wanted for this information to become widely known. Even as the CCP acknowledged that there was an epidemic centered in Wuhan, which they had to do because the efforts to contain its spread were undeniable, they downplayed the serious of the epidemic, the rate of transmission and fatality rate. This failure to be forthcoming about the true magnitude of the epidemic in China caused much of the rest of the world to fail to realize or enact the precautions necessary to ward of the virus’s international spread.

Thus, much of the world is now stuck in their homes awaiting the day when they may return to their lives.

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