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A man is trapped in a room if the door is unlocked, opens to the inside, but it does not occur to him to pull rather than to push. (Ludwig Wittgenstein)
Since January 2020, measures against a respiratory virus damage economy and society in many countries. The virus is said to originated in Wuhan, China, sometime in late 2019. In Januara and February from Wuhan came pictures which supposedly show a gigantic action against the virus. Few seem to have looked at the pictures again and asked: is what we see real? A the measures they show really useful to stop the spread of the “Wuhan virus?”
Im February and March many governments assumed that the virus is very dangerous and enacted a series of measures, like quarantaines, stay home orders, face mask mandates, closings of various public venues, and so on, for which collectively the term “lockdown” came into use. By the end of 2020, it became clear that the danger had been vastly exagerated. It is really only that of a regular to severe flu. The virus is dangerous almost only for severely ill of old and frail people, people from whom other factors are equally dangerous.
The measures taken have proven to have no noticable influence on the spread. This was shown e.g. in a large Danish study on face masks, or for lockdown measures as a whole. The Wuhan virus spreads, like all respiratory viruses, essentially via long close contact, for example in households or tight squeeze.
China probably never assumed that the virus is particularly dangerous and never actually tried to stop its spread.
The China knew by mid January that there would be no mass dying can be inferred from the existence of an “Early epidemiological assessment of the transmission potential and virulence of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Wuhan City: China, January-February, 2020” by Kenji Mizumoto, Katsushi Kagaya, and Gerardo Chowell which was uploaded to the preprint server MedRxiv on February 12 and finally published July 15.
The early assessment is likely free from data manipulation which may compromise later publications. The authors calculate an infection fatality rate (IFR) of 0.12%, a value within the range which was later confirmed worldwide. If foreign researchers can do this calculation then Chinese authorities can do them too. In particular they will have observed much earlier that the general population is not affected by the virus.
In a study by John Ioannidis published by the World Health Organization (WHO) in October the IFR in Wuhan was found to be 0.31% to 0.41% because more deaths were to come in the second half of February. In an email Ioannidis wrote to me that Wuhan had a relatively high IFR because “the pandemic hit Wuhan first and there were many deaths from nosocomial infections and from poor management. The non-Wuhan areas could largely avoid those. There are more data accruing and they agree with this picture.” There was a new virus which hit the health institutions of the city unprepared, in the rest of the country there was more time. It was the novelty of the virus that caused problems not its intrinsic danger.
China could not have done anything against the spread anyway.
The most important celebration in Chinese culture is the Spring Festival held on Chinese New Year. In 2020 Chinese New Year was on January 25th and started the “Year of the Rat.” That was only two days after the lockdown of Wuhan on January 23rd. There is a gigantic travel season around Chinese New Year, which has its own name: Chunyun. The season officially started January 10th, two weeks before the lockdown. On January 22nd, the Chinese news agency Xinhua reported that until Jnuary 19th there were 760 million journeys. Extrapolated to january 23rd one gets one billion journeys. There is no mention of travel restriction in the report. The report shows a railway station hall packed with people, as do other reports by the agency. (Jan 10, Jan 13) Wuhan is a main traffic hub in Central China where it looked porbably the same.
The Early Assessement calculated two million infected for the beginning of February. With the data from Ioannidis we still get one million. From the R-values given in the Early Assessment we can assume that the number of infected quadrupled each week. With this we get aquarter million on lockdown date, 60,000 on January 17th, the day China reported the first case to WHO, and already 15,000 in January 10th, the start of Chunyun.
It is obvious that China would hve observed a particularly deadly virus by mid January.
It is equally obvious that one does not attempt to stop the spread if one does a lockdwon just two days before Chinese New Year.
If we assume that there were 100,000 infected who travelled around in China until January 23th, and with quadrupling each week, one gets one billion infected by mid March. This means at this time China would have reached “herd immunity” if there wasn’t already widespread base or cross immunity already. It fits that China declared the epidemic over in the end of March.
China has reported less than 5000 deaths. If is possible that there were ten or hundred times more but infected and deaths with of by the virus cannot be identified without the test. As couse of deaath a doctor may assume the severe illness most had. Because Wuhan was locked down only two days before New Year, most of them will have had the opportunity to celebrate a last Spring Festival with their relatives and friends.
Let’s look at the Wuhan picture from the beginning of 2020 again. What do we see? Many who wear face masks. But at that time face masks were considered useless (as again by the end of the year). (On the Chunyun pictures effectively nobody wears face mask.) There are quickly errected hospitals. Quick hospital creation was later copied in the Western world. But, like elsewhere, already in Wuhan the hospitals remained empty.
Most impressive are the disinfection scenes. Squadrons with overall and NBC mask spray counter halls, pedestrian zones, streets. My favorite is “Volunteers from the Blue Sky Rescue team disinfect at the Qintai Grand Theatre in Wuhan.” A nicely dystopic because only the stage lights are on. The equimpent for the picture would have been available on-site. Another favorite of mine is a video with 12 trucks with snow cannons as dense fleet all spraying. Don’t they need to save valuable disinfectives? Why do they do it at night? The streets in quarantained Wuhan should be empty during the day, too. The commentators all thought either big desaster or hightech China. It occured to nobody that this might be complete nonsense against a respiratory virus. (I would have chosen a darker musik; like something by Hans Zimmer.)
The Wuhan pictures show a monstrously ridiculous action which is virtually useless against the real virus we know. However, the pictures do match the imagination of a fantastic “killer virus” (Klaus Püschel, medical examiner in Hamburg, Germany) breezing through surreal territory.
A large open-air theater is a lot cheaper than actual hightech measures. Lots of face masks, overalls, medical equipment, spraying canisters, plexiglass, etc.; some tankers, snow cannons, kinder robots, etc. No special effects necessary. A cheap open air scifi jamboree in the cityscape of Wuhan.
This does not mean that there was no actual medical problem in the city which needed to be dealt with. The data by Ioannidis indicates this. And doctor Günter Frank writes the he does have to deal with severe cases. And there was, in March, a report about doctors from Wuhan who visited Germany. The only topic of the doctors were the protection of the medical staff. Measures for the population are not mentioned.
So, why did China staged this cheap monstrously grotesque scifi jamboree in addition to real measures?
The doctor, coach, and motion trainer Helmut Jäger visited Laos (where no particular measures were made) in February and realized the show nature of the Wuhan action back then, as he wrote to me in an email. On his website “Medizinisches Coaching” he covers medical topics, health politics, and Chinese culture among other topics. In June he wrote in “Gesundheitsreligion oder Tianxia?” (Health Religion or Tianxia?):
The Chinese government reacted to the covid-19 epidemic very consistently. It was obviously concerned not so much with the threat by “a virus” but with a chance to consolidate the neo-Confucian state model. One defined (and elevated) a strong alien enemy. One suppreses at the same time other factors which contribute to respiratory illnesses which were also responsible for the outbreak (like the air quality in Wuhan).
The Communist Party stages grand shows on other occasions like party congresses or Olympic games. Thus, the Chinese state staged its competence with visually impressive action in addition to real measures.
But why did the Cinese state thought it was necessary to stage its competence this way? “Just so” seems to be a somewhat thin answer.
Eine mögliche Antwort liefert der ehemalige Direktor des israelischen Gesundheitsministeriums, Yoram Lass:
A possible answer is given by the former director of the Israeli health ministry, Yoram Lass in an interview with “Spiked!”, May 22nd:
It is the first epidemic in history which is accompanied by another epidemic — the virus of the social networks. These new media have brainwashed entire populations. What you get is fear and anxiety, and an inability to look at real data. And therefore you have all the ingredients for monstrous hysteria.
There is the story that the Wuhan doctor Li Wenliang informed the world via social media on December 30th about the new virus. A few days later the police warned him not to spread rumors. This warning was later in the West understood as the suppression of a whistleblower. One could equally well assume that the Chinese authorities already in December came to the conclusion that there is no particular danger for the general public. If that is the case the warning would have been justified.
In anycase it is conceivable that the virus news now circulated in the social networks of China so that the state found a visually impressive action necessary to fight the virus of the social networks in addition to the actual virus. The reported case and death numbers fit to this hypothesis. There was only really in February a mass of test positive and death cases, since March practically nothing. This can be achieve if one the visible action and the tests are done mainly in Wuhan and if only ill people are tested. This creates a test case image of the epidemiological situation in Wuhan and when that is over the action was successful.
Like Jäger, science blogger Peter F. Mayer already in June wrote about a “media event” by China and in August called the action “enactment on vast stage.” For Peter Mayer the action is a veritable “lockdown trick”: “On a small part of its territory China pioneered a never seen before and medically nonsensical radical lockdown. Almost all countries followed and, like lemmings, went over the cliff of partial destruction of their economy.”
Mayer explains this with the confrontation of China with America. But also Europe has declared China a “systemic rival.” One tries to prevent further technology transfer and impedes the creation of a new mobile network by technology corporation Huawai.
Mayer cannot explain why the Wuhan spectacle would confuse Western leaders. Had the politicians let the institutions and persons responsible for the assessment of public dangers do their job then already in Fabruary or early March one would have come to the conclusion that the Whan action must ba an overreachtion. That measures in the broader population were no topic for the visting Wuhan doctors suggests that even in March China did not expect the “lockdowns” to take long or, would even introduced in Germany.
On may even ask if Mayer is right when he assumes that the measures in Wuhan were actually copied and are rightly called “lockdown.” To my knowledge the reports were mostly about blocking the city and stay-home orders. This is like quarantaine, which is doen with a ship with a disease on board. A plausible concept for social media. Visually impressive masks are on all pictures, the not so visible social distancing much less. At least for the ability to quickly errect hospitals China was admired.
If not from China, from were did Western authorities take the measures they enacted?
One possibility come from the book “Chronik einer angekündigten Krise” (Chronicle of an Anounced Crisis) by Paul Schreyer, chief editor of hte online magazine Multipolar. Schreyer reports a number of simulation events with bombastic names such like “Dark Winter,” “Atlantic Storm” or “Clade X.” There are wild conspiracy theories around these simulations. My opinion about them is the same as Thomas Rietzschel’s: These theories “are ridiculous figments of overheated brains, attempts of the helpless to discover meaning in something that appears inexplicable to them. The result is always the same: pure nonsense.” It is much simpler to assume that the simulations were played by executives and dealt mostly with epidemics of dangerous viruses from 2010 onward. The simulations are clearly dominated by a technobureaucratic world view, but that executives assess public dangers in normal.
My question would be if the simulations were realistic. Do the postulated dangerous pathogens really exist? All pandemic the WHO has declared since 2009 were much less deadly in the end as one suspected in the beginning. In this sense they were all false alarms. And the simulated measures, which in part are practiced now in the lockdown regimes, are now found to have no effect on the spread. Indeed already long ago WHO and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) found a very low evidence for the effectivity of the measures.
so the executives spent their time with unreal technobureaucratic computer games and lockdowns are the attempt to transfer these games into reality. The crumbling social structure and the economic crisis show the failure of such an attempt. In the end the “final victory of bureaucracy” (Rietzschel) destroy the foundation of that very bureaucracy itself. – That they destroy their own societies is just the way final vicories are.
So far Mayer’s hypothesis is unplausible since the West does not copy China but executes what it trained itself, though, maybe inspired by the Wuhan pictures. There is, however a possiblity that the Wuhan spectacle was a deliberate attempt to confusion.
One of the simulation was “Event 201,” played November 2019. Its results were presented at the World Economic Forum 2020. The simulation postulates that “the next severe pandemic will not only cause great illness and loss of life but could also trigger major cascading economic and societal consequences that could contribute greatly to global impact and suffering.” The autors say that epidemiologically there is no relation of their simulation and the Wuhan virus pandemic.
Schreyer writes that only after the presentation of the simulation the Wuhan virus news got attention. One does not need to assume that the attantion was created on purpose. In the media the connection of news about a new virus is quickly linked to the imagination of a “severe pandemic.” This is almost a conditioned media reflex.
So how does this become a “lockdown trick?” In some simulations, China is attributed the role of a country that can take effective action against a pandemic due to its authoritarian regime. It is conceivable that the representative of China heard the politicians talk about the Wuhan virus and the dangers of severe pandemics after the presenation of the simulation. And because of the confrotation he could have thought: what will happen if China serves the virological fantasies and the fantasies of an authoritarian hightech state China by staging the show “fighting a severe pandemic” as it would appear in a scifi flick?
In November, the editor of Demokratischer Widerstand, Aya Velázquez, wrote about the show character of the Wuhan action. According to her this was a coup of China with Western hightech corporations to artificially create a “severe pandemic.” I find this not very plausible. Firstly it is a conspiracy theory of the above type. But such a cooperation would not make much sense either. China does not allow the corporations to operate in the country but has its own equivalent technologies which it may want to sell. Why cooperate? Most importantly it would mean that Californian corporations an Western governments delibartely damage their own societies to the advantage of their “systemic rival.” Zhat doesn’t make much sense.
That China does not think of Davos as a too important event can be seen from its diplomatic representation. Western countries sent their respective political Number One (presidents, prime ministers, chancelors etc.). China sent its vice-premier. This is only Numer Seven of the Standing Commitee of the politburo. The Commitee has only seven members. So vice-premier was the lowest possible representative, diplomatically one level above non-representation.
Summary. The enactment on vast state in Wuhan did not have an effect on the actual virus but targeted the virus of the social networks. It is conveivable that is was created deliberately to scare Western people. It is also possible that the virus news from Davos created a virus panic in China which the government then tried to combat with a spectacle without taking into account the effect the pictures would have abroad. Or the panic was already running through social metworks after doctor Li had created the virtual virus with his information and the panic increased after foreign news. It was in any case a chance to strengthen the neo-Confucian state model, as Jäger thinks.
That the Wuhan pictures would hit the mind so massively was likely unexpected, this cannot be planned. Other things had to happen: Italy pictures, models with huge numbers of deaths, the death of the alledged whistleblower, etc. Maybe the virus was really news and hit some areas unprepared. But the virus panic from February onward may have already contibuted to excess deaths.
The main mind blow-up was likely the “lockdown” itself. Yoram Lass:
It is what is known in science as positive feedback or a snowball effect. The government is afraid of its constituents. Therefore, it implements draconian measures. The constituents look at the draconian measures and become even more hysterical. They feed each other and the snowball becomes larger and larger until you reach irrational territory. This is nothing more than a flu epidemic if you care to look at the numbers and the data, but people who are in a state of anxiety are blind.
And then there is the conditioning of the attention to the absolute case number which keeps the epidemic running even if the medical situation is long over. Ivor Cummins, chief program officer for Irish Heart Disease Awareness, calls this phenomenon “casedemic” in which some countries already fell in 2009 during the “swine flu.”
The foundation of the Western world view is truth monism. Formerly there was one and only one God with His three unified aspects, the Trinity. In modernity nature has replaced God but still all of nature’s aspects shall eventually unite in the Theory of Everything.
The arguments about the assessment of the situation and the measurements seek a Quaternity, the agreement of four aspects:
If it is impossible to unify these aspects because the actual relatively normal flu-like virus does not fit to the imagination of a killervirus the result is a collective obsessional neurosis.
In Confucianism acting “as if it is the case,” no matter if it actually is, is deemed a high ethical value. (Jäger) People will just do wht the government tells them to do even if they know it better. Life in China appears to involve a good deal of social play-acting. And the Chinese State Circus is world famous.
In China there is of course also just one nature.
The Dao of Heaven stands above the Dao of Man (…) Nature will not assimilate to human subjectivity in its self-regulation. (Chinese philosopher Zhao Tingyang, All Under Heaven)
But there is not necessarily a unity.
Because the Dao of Heaven manifests itself in the changing constellations of all things and not as their unalterable essence, the metaphysics of the Dao does not attempt to determine the essence of creation. The appearences do not categorially fix a thing but only indicate its possibilities as synonymous for the changing Dao.
Actual virus, imagined danger, case number, and measures are changing constellations whose relation can be organized according to the goal of the operation. If if the imagined virus of the social networks shall go away with the acual virus then one may test mainly persons who are ill. The cases are then synonymous with the changing Dao of the actual virus and vanish with it just as the imagined danger. And then one has to stop testing and avoid mass testing.
Or do it strategically. There was a mass test of the Wuhan population in the second half of May, 10 million people in 3 weeks. 300 positive cases were found, 110 false positives. This sounds unbelievable at first but the results were published in November (Cao et al., Nature Communications). It is indeed possible to have a very low false positive rate by counting a test positive only if two “targets” are positive and keep the so-called Ct-value low enough (less than 40 in this case), and this is indeed what the testing protocol states. Then you can declare that “Wuhan is now safe, and Wuhan people are safe” (Xinhua).
The catch is that there was never PCR mass testing elsewhere in China and only very few demographic studies. If you don’t do that there is not epidemic going on. China uses the test as a toy to achieve its goals.
The measures are not categorially fixed, they have to deal with the medical danger and appear to the social networks as possibly effective.
The measures, according to our hypothesis, had the goal to get rid of the actual virus as well as the virtual virus, “as if it is the case,” so that the country can return back to normal life as quickly as possible.
In particular the Western world, on the other hand, remains on irrational territory and fights a “killer virus” (Püschel), which, in this form only exists in the imagination of the people, against which there are measures which do not have an effect on the postivie test case number.
China did not assimilate the virus to human subjectivity and let it go self-regulated through the population to develop herd immunity. With herd immunity Chinese are safe. This allows China to play any game in the pandemic. It is the precondition to win each of them.
When China declared the end of the epidemic it said the virus is no longer found in the country, only “abroad.” So it does “border control” and “contact tracing,” and quarantines persons to prevent “outbreaks.” If the pandemic ends with the virus going away, China opens its border and has successfully contained the spread in its country as the simulations want it to have. As if it is the case. (Outbreaks do not happen with herd immunity either.)
In some countries “the pandemic ends if there is a vaccine”. What about China? On one hand, “trials usually require tens of thousands of participants, and with the outbreak in China largely under control, companies are having to test their vaccines elsewhere….” On the other hand, “China has offered employees intending to travel overseas the opportunity to be inoculated with one of two COVID vaccines being developed by China National Biotec.” (Michael Cembalest, chairman of market and investment strategy for J.P. Morgan Asset Management, “Covid drug development”) No possibility to develop a vaccine but already two vaccines available to travellers? For those with natural immunity, an isotonic saline solution would be sufficient, as if it is the case, and it has no short or long term side effects.
If it turns out that the story presented here is true, can one say China is responsible for having sent the world over the cliff of partial destruction of their economy?
China will say it is not its business to clarify a public health situation in other states and act rationally. Sweden and Florida can do it, so any country can be expected to be able to do it. That politicians in many countries chose to bypass persons or bodies responsible for the assessment of public dangers, thereby putting intitutions aside which had the potential to curb down the anxious communication of the collective mid brains, is their own business. China never intrudes into internal business of other countries. One could even declare that visible measures against the virus of the social networks was necessary and that it was the presentation of “Event 201” which kicked off the snow ball.
China is well prepared for any end of the pandemic and will be a successful nation.
The immediate advantages of China are great. Lockdown countries move deep into recession to China “the chaos the virus has wrought elsewhere, is now encouraging a flood of money into the country.” (Thomas Hale, Financial Times, Nov. 22nd)
Many countries have closed venues of education, culture and gastronomy where people meet and exchange ideas to create new ones. The anxious attention focus on the viral situation blocks the mind of many for other thoughts. And many will need a while to eventually get the virus mania out of their head. There may even be those who will never exit the cave. Lockdown countries have lost a year or more of creativity, China has lost nothing.
The immaterial advantage for China may be even bigger. What are Western core values worth if people are ready to throw away freedom and democracy in fear of a flu-like virus? What are societies worth who enter a collective neuroses because of pctures from a cheap scifi flick and a never ending panic storm in social and mass media, instead of clarifying a public danger rationally? What should one think of politicians who deliberately damage their own societies?
According to the philosopher Zhao Tingyang, the political imagination of Western civilization is rooted in an “imperialist world view,” which treats the world “as an object of subjugation, domination, and expropriation and not as a political subject.” This included hightech corporations. “If hightech systems merge with the system of gloabl finacial capitalism then there is the possibiliy of the emergence of an unprecedented form of power, an unlimited systemic power which will dominate most if not all human beings.”
Against this Zhao develops a world of of a “new Tianxia,” “all under Heaven”: “the purpose of the Tianxia system is the creation of reciprocal relations of benefit, the creation of a world wherein common and shared utility exceeds exclusive utility. The Tianxia system assumes that it is more attractive to participate than to reject it.”
Zhao is careful not to confuse China with Tianxia. But one can assume that the ideas he develops, which have a history of 3000 years, play an important role in the political ideas of Chinese leaders. Another reason why I think cooperation of China and Western hightech corporation is unlikely.
In any case, after the collaps of Western core values, Tianxia could be the the more attractive concept for societies outside Europe and North America. Helmut Jäger: “To me the (emerging Western) ‘health religion system’ is rather riciculous compared to the spiritual and philosphical rejuvenation which currently happens in Eastern Asia.”
China has only a single military base outside its homeland, issues credit to other states without interference in internal matters, and Chinese companies are lauded be the International Labor Organization for their complience to international minimum standards. (Wolfram Elsner, economics professor at Jilin-Univerität, China, “Das chinesische Jahrhundert”)
Recently, mid November by the initative of China the greatest free trade zone of the world was founded. Europe and America are not members, but at least Oceania.
If these considerations are correct then the China image held be Western leaders, e.g. in the simulations, and the general public is in reality a projection of their own “imperialistic world view” onto China. From Zhao I take it that China hat studied Western culture thoroughly and took over what it found useful. A similarly intensive study of Chinese culture in the Western world has not happened so far.
When Mao had consolidated his power in the 1950s he wanted to quickly industialize China with the “Great Leap Forward.” Farmers were ordered to produce steel with mini-furnaces. The result of this loss of sense of reality was unusable steel and a famine with 45 million deaths. The Western wolrd wants to hinder the rise of China but instead falls into virus mania, no the least because of a Chinese open-air spectacle.
Some Western countries have declared conflict with China in various fields. (Technology, Europe, Military, Huawei) Now they have damaged their own societies by lockdowns. This is like an army that wants to wage war but then sees ghosts, gets crazy, and damages its own weapons in a state of fear because it had the impression that the declared enemy did the same thing. — How will a Chinese politician or business person approach a lockdown politician in the future?
If the story here is true, the creators of the Corona Circus Wuhan must have had the entertainment of their life time. People of the world doing mask distance dancing to the cadence of the absolute test case count. The nations of the world are performing a “World Circus Corona” for China.
The Western world makes a “Great Reset” (another technobureaucratic phantasm), a great leap backward. Because of a virus, whose danger is roughly the same as “regular old influenza, which no-one is the least bit frightened of, and which we don’t shut down our societies for.” (Sebastian Rushworth, emergency doctor in Stockholm, Sweden) This dim outlook does not appear to be of great concern to the Chinese pool party youth of Wuhan.
weltexperiment.com・document 20814 (2020-12-12)・revision 21010 (2021-01-05)・Ulf Martin Mail Telegram