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Covid before the cover-up

Summary:
After Covid became a global problem in the spring of 2020, the Chinese government became very defensive about claims that it had allowed the disease to spread via unsafe animal markets. They became even more defensive when the accusations shifted to a possible lab leak. When the Chinese government gets defensive, it starts lying. In this case, it speculated that the virus might have come to China from imported fish, or it might have escaped from a US research lab—despite no real evidence for either claim.Thus it’s refreshing to look at news reports from before anyone realized that anything important had occurred. This bulletin from Hong Kong’s version of the CDC is from December 31, 2019, and was one of the first news reports of what would later become a global

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After Covid became a global problem in the spring of 2020, the Chinese government became very defensive about claims that it had allowed the disease to spread via unsafe animal markets. They became even more defensive when the accusations shifted to a possible lab leak. When the Chinese government gets defensive, it starts lying. In this case, it speculated that the virus might have come to China from imported fish, or it might have escaped from a US research lab—despite no real evidence for either claim.

Thus it’s refreshing to look at news reports from before anyone realized that anything important had occurred. This bulletin from Hong Kong’s version of the CDC is from December 31, 2019, and was one of the first news reports of what would later become a global pandemic.

Covid before the cover-up

That doesn’t sound too bad! If Chinese authorities had known what they were dealing with, they would have easily stopped the pandemic in its tracks in January 2020. Unfortunately, they were just as ignorant as the rest of us.

This is one reason why I still lean toward the animal market hypothesis. That was where all the evidence was pointing before the Chinese government even knew that they had a major disaster on their hands, a disaster that would later trigger an aggressive 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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