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Pure, 100%, unadulterated, anti-Chinese bigotry

Summary:
The media is full of anti-Chinese bigotry, but rarely in as pure a form as this classic Daily Mail headline: Further evidence emerges that China hid coronavirus truth from the world as study says Covid was circulating in Italy in September 2019 And the story itself is even worse. So let me get this straight. We know that Covid-19 originated in China. How do we know? Because the Chinese “patient zero” got sick on November 17, 2019. That was the very first known case of Covid-19 in the entire world. So that’s how we know the virus originated in China; the earliest known cases were in China. According to the Daily Mail, we now know that there were a bunch of Covid-19 cases in Italy in September 2019. I’m not sure that’s true, but let’s say it is. Which of

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The media is full of anti-Chinese bigotry, but rarely in as pure a form as this classic Daily Mail headline:

Further evidence emerges that China hid coronavirus truth from the world as study says Covid was circulating in Italy in September 2019

And the story itself is even worse.

So let me get this straight. We know that Covid-19 originated in China. How do we know? Because the Chinese “patient zero” got sick on November 17, 2019. That was the very first known case of Covid-19 in the entire world. So that’s how we know the virus originated in China; the earliest known cases were in China.

According to the Daily Mail, we now know that there were a bunch of Covid-19 cases in Italy in September 2019. I’m not sure that’s true, but let’s say it is. Which of these four is the most plausible implication:

a. The disease started in Italy and then spread to China.

b. The Italian government knew about these cases in September 2019, but covered them up.

c. The Chinese government covered up the fact that Covid-19 was circulating in China well before September 2019, and decided to take no action to slow the spread because.because.because.well because they welcomed having a disastrous pandemic and didn’t want to take any action to prevent Wuhan from being devastated in January. But once Wuhan was hit hard in January, they did take very aggressive actions to prevent the spread to other parts of China.

d. Borat is to blame.

So the Daily Mail thinks answer C is the most plausible.

Me? I’m not even convinced the story is true. But if it is true then we really have no idea where the virus came from. It could have come from Kazakhstan for all I know. Or China. Or Italy. Or the Congo.

If the story is true, then there are lots of other things we know to be true that no longer make any sense, such as that there were almost no deaths in China until January. And if you don’t trust Chinese data, look at Melbourne, or some other similar example. The caseloads grow exponentially. So if the Italian story is true then this suggests that the people who had Covid-19 in September 2019 had a different form of the virus, either less fatal or less contagious. Perhaps the virus mutated. Who knows?

Again, I don’t believe or disbelieve the story. I’d like a second opinion from someone less biased than the Daily Mail.

This post is not about Covid; it’s about bigotry. The Italian story provides zero evidence of a Chinese cover-up.


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Scott Sumner
Scott B. Sumner is Research Fellow at the Independent Institute, the Director of the Program on Monetary Policy at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University and an economist who teaches at Bentley University in Waltham, Massachusetts. His economics blog, The Money Illusion, popularized the idea of nominal GDP targeting, which says that the Fed should target nominal GDP—i.e., real GDP growth plus the rate of inflation—to better "induce the correct level of business investment".

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