Covid 19. Manufactured? Probably. Next, the unavoidable question.

Question: Why is Covid 19 so infectious? Answer, because of the so-called ‘furin-like cleavage site’ on the spike. This consists of an amino acid sequence grouped arginine-arginine-alanine-arganine. When this contacts the mucus membrane of the human respiratory system it basically burns a hole in it and the virus is in. This is not present in the naturally evolved version of the virus which killed three shovellers of horseshoe bat guano who died from it but gave it to no-one. You virtually had to be swimming in it for it to infect you. The new, deadly spike was, according to a professor at National Taiwan University, Fang Chi-tai “unlikely to have four amino acids added all at once.” Natural mutations were smaller and more haphazard, he argued. “From an academic point of view, it is indeed possible that the amino acids were added to COVID-19 in the lab by humans.”

When his talk was publicised he recanted and the university removed it from its server for “certain reasons”. Academics who advance the thesis that Covid-19 could have been the result of a ‘gain of function’ experiment in China are likely to see their careers stall and lose grants, in spite of the fact that the Wuhan lab of world-wide fame was involved in gain of function experiments on horseshoe bat coronaviruses.

Consider this: the nearest horseshoe bats to Wuhan are seven hundred miles away. They are not, as we were first given to believe, sold in the Wuhan wet market. So for the natural origin theory to be true, the virus had to mutate in a bat population, infect someone and then instantly die out because no-one else in the vicinity caught it at that point. Then the infected person had to somehow get to Wuhan without spreading it along the way. How likely is that? But Shi Zhengli of the Wuhan Institute, whom Scientific American dubbed ‘the bat woman’, regularly harvests viruses from that distance bat colony and transports them to her Wuhan lab.

Looked at objectively, the human-made hypothesis seems much more probable, but no-one wants to say so, indeed the chorus of denial is loud and global. Why all the academic fear?

Because the world is scared of China. Our politicians bend over backwards to avoid offending The Middle Kingdom, and with good reason. Although China’s fall to the condition of a broken victim state, walked all over first by Western Powers and then Japan in the two hundred years prior to the mid-20th Century had more to do with its inward-looking sclerotic administration than external influences, Chinese global policy is almost openly vengeful. The country lost its face and it wants it back. If a minor South American country, for instance, engaged in world-wide open theft of intellectual property and imprisoned and oppressed whole sectors of its ethnic minorities it would at the very least be ostracised on the world stage and quite likely corrected by force. Not China. No-one wants to step on the dragon’s tail, especially when that dragon produces so much of the manufactured products the rest of the world runs on. Not when it is a huge and growing market for almost every country’s products.

This is changing. Slowly the democratic powers are starting to face the fact that Russia and China are becoming increasingly dangerous and sooner or later we are going to have to do something about it. Preferably later, much later. As our attitude becomes more realistic the so-called ‘lab-leak hypothesis’ is starting to see some air. Note the nomenclature ‘lab-leak’. No-one except those who in the next breath will tell you about Bill Gates’ microchip in the vaccine will suggest that China might, just might, have deliberately released the virus. No scientist or politician who wants to keep their job will say such a thing. I have not seen the possibility mooted at all in any medium. Unfortunately, we have to at least consider it. If they did it, we need to know. Time to wheel in the old Latin tag Cui bono? It means ‘Who won something?’or more literally ‘For the good of whom?’ and is a time-honoured way of looking into a complex or obscure misdeed.

Under Xi Jinping, who is looking more like Mao Zedong every day, China wants grow stronger by weakening the rest. Look at its artificial islands in the South China Sea which it now claims as sovereign territory – military territory. A vast fleet of its factory ships plunder the oceans at the expense of everyone else and the planet. Now imagine how the Central Committee might have reacted to a proposal to release a killer respiratory virus that would cripple democratic economies around the world but inflict only minor damage on a country that did not have to bother with personal freedoms, that was able to track and trace with very high efficiency because of the absence of concern for individual liberties, that could throw a cordon around a whole city and enforce it, that could mass-disinfect whole suburbs. Can you see them nodding and smiling? I certainly can.

Covid-19 has been a body blow to the economies of countries that China smiles at but considers enemies, as well as serving as a demonstration to their own people that their system is inherently stronger and less vulnerable than the effete democracies of the West. If it was an accident, it is one that has served Xi Jinping’s agenda fulsomely. Cui bono? China.

Consider this, for a closer. When the outbreak occurred, Shi Zhengli, lead researcher on horseshoe bat coronaviruses at the Wuhan lab immediately suspected that the outbreak was the result of a leak of something made in her lab. She describes how, terrified, she “checked her records and found no exact matches.” Phew.

Well, no, actually. No ‘exact’ matches, for a start. So one of her colleagues might have given the virus the last tweak, acting under the orders of the most powerful people in the institute, which would not be the head scientist, Zhengli. Not in China. The real head honchos would be the party cadres charged with keeping everyone in line, as in every sensitive organisation in that country. Or, more simply, they told her what to say and she said it.

I believe, for reasons which seem to me obvious, that Covid 19 was produced in the Wuhan Institute. I am not saying and do not necessarily believe that the Chinese government deliberately released the virus. One argument against that is the location – a covert release for the purposes I suppose would have made more sense in the vicinity of the bat population. Deliberate release is simply a possibility we need to keep in mind and we sure as hell need to be prepared for the next one.

Scamming the Elderly – Good Business?

The indefatigable George Monbiot has run an article describing how an elderly acquaintance was scammed by a dodgy damp-proofing rort (https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/may/12/laws-protect-scams-enforcement-gutted) and how, in spite of having all the evidence in hand, he was unable to provoke any action by the relevant trading standards authority. The dedicated police unit, Action Fraud he found to be similarly inert. In fact, in spite of fraud being by far the worst crime problem facing the community, funding for the bodies responsible for bringing scammers to justice has been cut so badly in recent years that the crooks have a virtually free run. The police have even quantified it: lose less than £100,000 and you’re on your own.

It got me wondering. It can’t just be about saving money – the public are much more concerned about fraud than they are about hate speech, but at last count there were six hundred staff working the specialised police hate crimes unit. This government has flung austerity out the window, spending money like water, but in yesterday’s Queen’s speech not a word about what is probably the worst crime wave ever to affect the general public.

It was in the first paragraph of Monbiot’s piece that I found what may be a clue. The scammer had a card machine with him and his victim paid up, in full, immediately. What impunity, to put the money straight into his own bank account. But what about that money? It must have been thousands of pounds, sitting in a bank account, doing nothing, frugally hoarded by the anxious pensioner. Where would it be now, had not Monbiot galloped in on his white horse and monstered the guy into a refund? Perhaps to an installment on the guy’s new electric Jag. Or a series of nights out on the town, nothing but the best for our scammer and his pals. Every pound of it clipped for the government’s share in VAT. Assuming the man paid his taxes, more of it off to the exchequer at the end of the year.

Can it be that the Tories actually think that this epidemic of defrauding pensioners is a good thing? I mean, we are not Bhutan. Our national accounts don’t have a column for communal happiness. We don’t have to look far to discern this government’s disregard for human misery. How many billions, I wonder, have all those millions of my coevals got salted away awaiting the stroke of a bank card across the fraudsters’ machines? Awaiting their liberation into the free-spending economy? Last year it totalled £193 billion. That’s right – £193,000,000,000. That is a massively significant amount of freed-up cash.

When this first occurred to me I thought of it as a piece of whimsy but having realised the scale and consequences I’m not so sure. Coming here from New Zealand I was struck by the simply appalling absence of consumer protections at every level. The BBC has a couple of astonishingly tame consumer issues radio shows, in which the smiling, agreeable presenters regularly let companies off the hook by not only parroting “Nobody from Company X was available to come on the programme” but actually then reading their press releases for them in which they invariably declare, unchallenged, that it was all just a regrettable mistake and won’t happen again. If the company reimburses the single individual it has ripped off the presenters seem to regard that as a happy outcome, leaving the company to go on doing the same thing to thousands of its customers. When I was on the air in NZ, balance was achieved in such situations by offering both sides of a conflict space on the programme to put their viewpoint. If they declined, then that viewpoint did not get put. End of. They usually showed up. Not here. Why should they when they can have the consumers’ champion do their work for them?

The UK is a rip-off artist’s paradise and absolutely nothing is being done about it. Well, it gets the money going round, doesn’t it? Got to be a good thing …

It’s not negligent. It’s deliberate. And, as Monbiot points out, whom do those angry victims vote for? The party that beats the law ‘n order drum loudest – the Tories, the very charmers letting the crooks off the hook.

Caveat emptor, as never before.