ANIMAL WATCH-A German Shepherd is the second dog in China reportedly testing positive for the COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) coronavirus, but a second mixed-breed dog in the household of a coronavirus-positive human does not.
The first dog reported to have the virus, a 17-year old Pomeranian died two days after ending the quarantine. Media reports say the owner did not agree to a necropsy, but experts assure us that the virus was not the cause of death.
This announcement also strongly encouraged people not to abandon their pets and not have concerns about companion animals transmitting the disease. On the surface this seems practical and humane. However, how assured can we be by the alleged finding, if the veterinarian or health official in China did NOT describe conducting any type of procedure or testing to determine the exact cause of death?
The expressed goal of this assurance is to sooth concerns and ensure that the retention of pets, which is admirable. But it should not at the cost of taking the same risk the Chinese government took when it punished Dr. Li Wenliang, the Chinese whistleblower doctor, who heroically tried to raise alarm about the coronavirus in the early days of the outbreakand who died after contracting it from a patient at the hospital.
COULD A DOG OWNER IN CHINA STOP A NECROPSY BY A GOVERNMENT AGENCY?
Before we accept this, shouldn't we seriously question the fact that a necropsy was not done on the 17-year-old Pomeranian, supposedly because the female owner would not agree.
In a country with few civil rights, protestors publicly shot for speaking their mind, and government hospitals reportedly tying up pregnant women "like pigs" and performing forced abortions until the end of the Communist regime in 2015, can we believe that a woman's opinion would be of that much concern if the goal were to truly find the source of death of the dog? (See: "One Child Nation.")
Or -- was the goal NOT to disclose the cause of death? Did they actually find that it was COVID-19? Then, shouldn't veterinarians have carefully examined and shared what type of damage the virus did to the lungs/body of the dog, if any?
CHINA'S AGING POPULATION -- ROOT CAUSE OF THE "CONSPIRACY THEORY?"
One of the biggest problems with aging in China is the inadequate pension system and statutory retirement age; 60 years old for men and 50 years old for women workers in enterprises, 55 years old for women civil servants.
"By 2050, 330 million Chinese will be over age 65. . . .It’s the No. 1 economic problem for China going forward,” says Stuart Leckie, chairman of Stirling Finance Ltd., a Hong Kong-based pension fund consulting firm that has advised the Chinese government," according to Time Magazine.
"If current trends continue, China’s population will peak at 1.44 billion in 2029 before entering “unstoppable” decline, according to a Chinese Academy of Social Sciences study released in January."
The country will enter an “era of negative population growth,” the report says, "Fewer people means less domestic consumption, and thus rapidly slowing economic growth. The ratio of young to old will be dramatically imbalanced by the rising ranks of the elderly," opines Time, "putting unprecedented weight on the ties that hold society together."
Coronavirus is mysteriously sparing kids and killing the elderly. Understanding why may help defeat the virus, reports the Washington Post on March 10, 2020.
"One of the few mercies of the spreading coronavirus is that it leaves young children virtually untouched — a mystery virologists say may hold vital clues as to how the virus works," the report says.
In China, only 2.4 percent of reported cases were children and only 0.2 percent of reported cases were children who got critically ill, according to the World Health Organization. China has reported no case of a young child dying of COVID-19.
Meanwhile, the new coronavirus has proved especially deadly on the other end of the age spectrum. The fatality rate in China for those over 80 is an estimated 21.9 percent, per the WHO.
For ages 10 to 39, however, the fatality rate is roughly 0.2 percent, according to a separate study drawing on patient records of 44,672 confirmed cases. And fatalities and severe symptoms are almost nonexistent at even younger ages.
Perhaps it has nothing to do with the virus and has to do with host, like underlying conditions in the lungs, diabetes or hypertension. . .Previous coronavirus outbreaks have also mysteriously spared the young.
No children died during the SARS outbreak in 2002, which killed 774 people. And few children developed symptoms from the deadly MERS coronavirus, which has killed 858 since 2012.
An Op-Ed by Steven W. Mosher, president of the Population Research Institute, was published by the New York Post on Feb. 22, 2020, entitled, "Author argues the coronavirus behind the COVID-19 outbreak may have leaked from a Chinese virology lab."
Mr. Mosher contends that, "China’s only Level 4 microbiology lab equipped to handle deadly coronaviruses, called the National Biosafety Laboratory, is part of the Wuhan Institute of Virology, and that the People's Liberation Army's top Expert in biological warfare, Maj. Gen. Chen Wei, was dispatched to Wuhan at the end of January to help with the effort to contain the outbreak."
“According to the PLA Daily, Chen has been researching coronaviruses since the SARS outbreak of 2003, as well as Ebola and anthrax. It is one of only two bioweapons research labs in all of China."
"This suggests to me the novel coronavirus, now known as SARS-CoV-2, may have escaped from that very lab, and that Chen’s job is to try and put the genie back in the bottle," he writes.
He opines later, "China may have unleashed a plague on its own people." Read more here.
COULD THE COVID-19 HAVE BEEN DEVELOPED IN CHINA BECAUSE IT WOULD AFFECT THOSE WHO ARE -- AND WILL CONTINUE TO BE--A BURDEN ON THE ECONOMY, THOSE OVER 60?
I am not familiar with Mr. Mosher's writing, and I am not a conspiracy theorist; however, Shi Zhengli, virologist at Wuhan Institute of Virology, made what I thought was an unusual statement in the Scientific American article, How China’s “Bat Woman” Hunted Down Viruses from SARS to the New Coronavirus.
Shi Zhengli talked about the phone call that started her search for the type of bat that ultimately proved to be responsible for the current COVID-19 outbreak: . . .If coronaviruses were the culprit, she remembers thinking, “could they have come from our lab?”
I will leave the decision to you as to whether there is a valid conspiracy theory among these opinions and facts. There has definitely been a lot of thought and concern that brings up questions that may--or may not -- need to be answered.
(Phyllis M. Daugherty is a former City of LA employee and a contributor to CityWatch.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.