U.S. government gave $3.7 million grant to Wuhan lab at cent

Re: U.S. government gave $3.7 million grant to Wuhan lab at

Postby admin » Tue May 12, 2020 4:25 am

Dr. Michael Osterholm on Covid-19
May 2, 2020

Steve Skrovan: It's the Ralph Nader Radio Hour.

Steve Skrovan: Welcome to the Ralph Nader Radio Hour. My name is Steve Skrovan, along with my co-host, David Feldman. Hello there, David.

David Feldman: Hello there, Steve.

Steve Skrovan: And the man of the hour, Ralph Nader. Hello, Ralph.

Ralph Nader: Hello. Please listen carefully to this one, listeners.

Steve Skrovan: That's right. This week, some states have ended their lockdowns and some are easing restrictions. President Trump has suggested that some schools could reopen before the end of this school year. Just this week, he also said that COVID-19 will not return after this, or if it does, it will be small and contained. This is not what the experts are saying, and it should be disregarded, just like his suggestion last week that ingesting disinfectants might kill the virus. To be clear, do not ever drink bleach. First up, we welcome Dr. Michael Osterholm, one of the foremost experts in infectious diseases. He wrote a book in 2017 called Deadliest Enemy: Our War Against Killer Germs, in which he predicted a global pandemic. We first spoke with Dr. Osterholm more than two years ago after he wrote what is turning out to be a scarily prescient op ed for the New York Times entitled “We're Not Ready for a Flu Pandemic”. That warning was ignored by the Trump administration and Congress, and everything Dr. Osterholm wrote in January of 2018, 100 years after the so-called Spanish Flu Pandemic, and two years before COVID-19, has unfortunately come true.

Now, he predicts that the second peak of COVID-19 will be bigger than the first. We'll hear about what he means by that and how he thinks the country can reopen by "threading the rope through the needle", as he calls it, which means finding a balance between resuming some parts of life and keeping people safe.

That's the first part of the show. The second part of the show, we're going to talk about schools, because the future of schools is uncertain. Schools have switched to online learning with no end in sight. The inequalities already present in our education system have become even more apparent. 17% of students in the United States don't have a computer at home. These differences put low-income students at a disadvantage compared to their wealthier peers.

Our second guest, Naila Bolus, is the president and CEO of Jumpstart. Jumpstart is a national early-education organization that provides language, literacy, and social- emotional programming for preschoolers from underserved communities, and she's here to talk about educational inequality and Jumpstart's role in addressing it. As always, somewhere in between, we'll take a short break and check in with our corporate crime reporter, Russell Mokhiber, and if we have some time left over, we'll try to answer some listener questions. First, let's start by talking about what our new normal in the age of COVID might look like. David?

David Feldman: Dr. Michael Osterholm is a professor and director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. He is the author of the 2017 book, Deadliest Enemy: Our War Against Killer Germs. From 2018 through May of 2019, Dr. Osterholm served as a science envoy for health security on behalf of the U.S. Department of State. Welcome back to the Ralph Nader Radio Hour, Dr. Michael Osterholm.

Dr. Michael Osterholm: Thank you. It's great to be with you. I appreciate it. Ralph Nader: Mike, I'm going to ask you a question that a lot of people who have been asking you questions probably haven't. You've been very prophetic in warning the country year after year after year about the probability of these epidemics and pandemics coming from various places of the world quite apart from in this country. What would you suggest that this country should have done--let's go back, in its relations with China, its collaboration with specialists, epidemiologists, its treaties with countries--in order to have prevented this, detected it early, in this case, China, and prevented it? What kind of system should our country have put in place years ago, and what kind of resources should have been allocated. Because, this is going to happen again and again. This is not the last virus that's going to come from somewhere else.

Dr. Michael Osterholm: That's absolutely correct, and I think the best way for me to summarize this is in the book, Deadliest Enemies, that I wrote in 2017 [where] I laid out a battle plan, actually, for what we need to do, and it's extensive. But, the bottom line is that we can't prevent many of these infectious diseases from entering into the human race. It's going to happen. What we can do, though, however to stop them quickly, or at least more quickly than we have, and when we do stop them, we can then, also, for those individuals who will be at future risk, prevent that from happening again. What I mean by that is, for example, the tools we have; when we look at what we invest in military defense, what we invest in public health pales in comparison. Vaccine development, the idea that we knew that coronaviruses were going to be a problem again. In my 2017 book, the chapter on coronaviruses was entitled “SARS and MERS, a harbinger of things to come”. If we'd had creative imagination and said we need to invest heavily in platforms for the types of vaccines that could be used against coronaviruses, we would have been much further along in this situation.

We need to have a much more capable system for responding for testing so that we could pick up, very early, this virus and how can we elevate, quickly, the testing capability that we need to have, rather than almost piecemeal on a global basis. How do we communicate information? We do have a challenge today where countries, governments don't want bad news out, because it'll adversely impact them. What can we do to incentivize actually getting information out quickly? Stopping news is not just about being a good citizen, but you won't be punished financially.

There's a number of things I think that we can do for these acute big events. On the other hand, we have ones, and Ralph, you and I have talked about this before about antibiotic resistance, the idea that we're losing the gift that we've had for the last century of antibiotics because, as we use them, the bacteria, the viruses even, and the parasites mutate in a way that the antibiotic no longer kills them the way it once did. We're investing very little in that, yet we are very quickly sliding back into, almost, what I call a post-antibiotic era, much like the pre-antibiotic era.

I think part of it is the lack of creative imagination. People with the book that I wrote in 2017 would tell you I was a scare-mongerer, that I basically just did that as a horror movie. Now, hopefully, this event will be a wake-up call for modern public health, modern medicine, and modern world affairs to say, No, this is important, in many ways, as defense itself as we think about it from a military standpoint. The investments have to increase and we have to be able to have the tools that we need to respond quickly. Imagine if we were fighting a war today and we had Civil War muskets. Unfortunately, far too often, that's what we have in public health today.

Ralph Nader: Let's take what you just recommended to a level of international treaties. We have arms control treaties in the nuclear area; we have economic treaties, like the World Trade Organization. We even have some environmental treaties. Don't you think that we need to develop an international cooperative treaty system where we can provide adequate funds for what you're saying, the various nations? We can have interchange of epidemiologists. For example, more FDA inspectors in China. What would you favor here? Because, I think if we have different policy recommendations, the mechanism has to be some sort of international regime, international treaty in order to put all these parts in place, and so it isn't just a desperate catch-up when the outbreak occurs. Have you given any proposal to that, anybody in the public health area taken it to that level? Because, that's what usually gets more budgets, you see.

Dr. Michael Osterholm: You raise a very important point, and we do have the public health laws, in a sense, as through the World Health Organization, and how we are, as a world, supposed to act. A challenge we have is whether it's a treaty, or it's laws, or whatever, people can violate them if there are disincentives for them to comply. I think the challenge we have today is that we don't want to see a country penalized for discovering, uncovering, and disclosing a challenge that says, this could be everywhere around the world tomorrow. And that has been a major incentive for countries not to quickly identify something. The fact that the kitchen's on fire; I don't want the neighbors to know I have smoke in my house, so I'll just wait until the whole house is now on fire. I think that that is the issue. I'm not sure, as much, and I surely wouldn't minimize the treaty issue or that, but I think it's how do we, basically, protect countries who disclose, quickly, these problems, and allow for world resources to come in and help? I think it's a combination of all that.

Ralph Nader: Let's look at the World Health Organization [WHO]. I don't think many people realize how small its budget is compared to its responsibilities all over the world. It has a budget of about 4 to 5 billion dollars, which is basically what two large hospitals get in revenue in this country. And they have a focus, for example, on terrible epidemics in Africa. The Ebola epidemic was one; there was more than one. Then, there was a variant on a cholera epidemic that was even more lethal, and they actually worked with local efforts to head those off. But now they don't seem to be given the kind of resources, much less the authority that's needed. What's your view [on] Donald Trump has attacking the WHO, after he pushed for a cut in the U.S. contribution to the WHO? It does seem that you have The CDC has a budget, until recently, of $7 billion, and the WHO has this budget, 4 to 6 billion, and the Pentagon budget is $2 billion a day throughout the year. What kind of resources, and we want to focus on Congress getting back to work here because the money has to come from congressional appropriations. Before we get into the details of the present pandemic, what kind of overview would you have on this to head it off? Isn't it true that if China owned up to it publicly and, immediately, international cooperation kicked in, we probably would only have a fraction of this pandemic. Is that accurate?

Dr. Michael Osterholm: I'm not sure. I think that once a virus like this emerges, it's like a bullet being fired from the gun. Once the trigger has been pulled and executed, it's hard to stop it. At the same time, what we could have done is picked it up much quicker, and we could have had a much more comprehensive response. Even if we couldn't control it out of China, meaning it was eventually going to leak out, somehow, somewhere, our international opportunity to get vaccines out quickly and to protect people would have been substantially different if we'd had the tools you talked about. I think in your opening to this question, you made the case, as well as any person could, about the resource issue and how little we invest in this area and what we could do. Let me also say I have my challenges with the WHO. Our group came out and said on January 20th that this was going to be a coronavirus pandemic, and WHO didn't come out for weeks later to say that. While I have those challenges, I actually believe WHO is essential; it's critical. We need to have a strong international presence where when these events like this happen; we need to go back and reconstruct what happened, what could have been done better, and how does WHO need to change to be a modern international public health agency in the world. We need their air traffic control. If you look, the United States supplies a great deal of expertise to the WHO, as do other countries from around the world. You need to have that place where it's like an INTERPOL, almost, for infectious diseases where all this expertise can come together. I think it's a very short-sighted mistake to pull out of the WHO financially. I think it would be a real public health disaster if WHO was not strengthened as opposed to being weakened, and I think that there's just a lot more that we could do with the tool. I don't want to make this sound like it's a boondoggle, because everybody, at a time of a crisis, want to step up and get resources. I think, in this case, this is illustrating all the holes that we do have in the current system and what we could do to fix them, and this needs to be an international priority as we deal with this pandemic.

Ralph Nader: When we don't have this priority, trillions of dollars of economic activity crash in the United States, so it's easy to do a cost benefit analysis here. People who observe the WHO know that it is wary of offending foreign governments because it has to have entry. That's where it's wary, for example, of criticizing early China's belated publicity on what happened in Wuhan province. Do you believe that they have controlled it the way they have? If they had, it's quite an epidemiological success. The latest report is there is only one hospitalization for the Coronavirus in Wuhan city of 11 million. Do you believe that they have controlled it to that extent?

Dr. Michael Osterholm: I think they've done a remarkable job of driving this virus down, but they've not eliminated it. I would have to say that one of the things I'm concerned about right now is that we have full transparency with China. I will tell you right now, I think it's a problem. They have done through what, for lack of better term, we call the most draconian population limitation efforts any modern government has ever done for public health reasons. People were literally in their homes in the Wuhan area for weeks and weeks and weeks without being able to leave. They have facial recognition everywhere so they can track you, and if you turn up positive, they know every step you took in many locations in China. At the same time, we also, as you pointed, have very little activity recognizing the Wuhan area, but we see it in the other provinces right now, and we cannot understand how they can report 100 "asymptomatic infections" every day and then only one or two clinical cases. That makes no sense whatsoever. I think there is more going on there, but more importantly, when this virus decides to do what it's going to do, humans can only have some impact on that. Remember in 1918, and this is just an example, we had spring waves that adversely affected Chicago and New York in a big way, lots of illnesses and doubts. Hardly impacted Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington D.C., or even here in the Midwest, Detroit and Minneapolis, very little activity; then it disappeared. Where did it go? It didn't go away because of human activity. It went away because whatever it does, it does, and then it came back with a vengeance in the fall of 1918, and we don't know where it was, why it came back and did what it did, and then communities that had no activity in the spring suddenly, were in very dire trouble in the fall. Even now, in China, I don't know how much of this is due to what the Chinese did and how much of it is due to what Mother Nature herself is doing. It also means if it goes away, it surely can come back, and we talked about this before. Until we get 60 to 70 percent of U.S. population infected and develop some sense of immunity, or we get a vaccine that accomplishes that same kind of herd immunity protection, this is like gravity; it's going to keep happening. We're going to see virus transmission, whether it's in China. Look at Singapore, another example of a country that was touted as having the ideal kind of control measures; now they're in a national state of emergency because of transmission. I think it's too early to say that they have successfully handled it in China, but what they did do to reduce Wuhan clearly was a remarkable effort that I'm not sure could be done in many countries of the world.

Ralph Nader: Let's talk about vaccine. There's a report in the New York Times that Oxford University is ahead of the pack in trying to develop a vaccine, and they may be ready in early fall, which is about a year earlier than predictions. Tell us about the probability of a vaccine working and safe. And also are there intermediate remedies short of a vaccine that can diminish the severity of this virus that patients are afflicted?

Dr. Michael Osterholm: Obviously, vaccine is the Holy Grail. That's what we need and want. That would be ideal, but what do we want in that vaccine? We want it to be effective, and by effective we mean it surely keeps us from getting infected and also it protects us for a long period of time. And we want it to be safe. The challenge we have right now with these vaccines is that, with coronaviruses in general, we've not had good luck in finding vaccines that induce long-term immunity. And this is just from our work with MERS and SARS, and other coronavirus infections like that. So while we surely may be able to induce short-term immunity, which I think is obvious from clinical disease, you recover. Also, there's several studies using macaque monkeys where animals were challenged with the virus, then allowed to recover, and then challenged again, and they were protected, meaning the previous infection of the macaques protected them. There's one study, in fact, using a vaccine that was administered from Oxford here in the study in the United States in monkeys that suggested, again, it provided an immunity shortly after the vaccination took place. The problem is we don't know how long this lasts, and we don't know how good it is. There's this one like influenza where, while it's a different mechanism, you'd have to get vaccinated every year for this kind of situation. We just don't know; so that's the number one thing. I think we can find a vaccine that will give us short-term protection. The challenge will be long term. The second thing is safety, and I do think we have some challenges here yet in the work that was done with SARS. There was a condition called antibody- dependent enhancement. ADE is a situation where if you make a little bit of antibody from the vaccine, it's not enough to be protective. When you do get infected, the virus and the antibody interact in such ways, it causes the cascade in your immune system that goes out of control and actually is very damaging to the human to the point of actually killing them. This is what we had happen with the dengue vaccine several years ago in the Philippines where it was withdrawn from the market because people who had been vaccinated started developing this ADE position. We're going to have to study this. We need to know this, but we don't have an option here to study it for years and years and years. We're on virus time right now, and what we need to have has been what we have in the next 16 to 18 months. I think, from that standpoint, we'll probably not have all the data we want for safety. We will have data on short-term protection. We won't have data on long-term protection, and we'll put those vaccines into play, I think, if possible, and I think the Oxford one is surely one of the candidates. I still don't believe that it'll happen though, however, anytime soon, meaning that we're still 16 months earliest before we could get vaccine out there, 18 months maybe where you have it studied, you have it approved, you have it manufactured, you have it distributed, and you have it going into people. I think we're a ways from that yet.

Ralph Nader: What about intermediate treatments, short of vaccines? Anything there?

Dr. Michael Osterholm: Actually, there was news breaking today about one of the Gilead drugs, Remdesivir, which was one that has been touted. The NIH has some data today that they'll be releasing later suggesting that there were some benefits from it. On the other hand, another study from China today which was just released said there were none. So, we'll have to wait and see. This is one of the challenges of dealing with a disease like this is that everybody wants the answers right now, and while we're doing a great deal to get them, I must say, this has been an incredible experience in terms of the number of clinical trials that were set up very quickly in a comprehensive manner. And so I'm optimistic we're going to get answers soon. But, again, as I said a moment ago, we're in virus time, not human time, and that makes it really tough to get this work done to have a meaningful impact. If we have a big wave of disease coming in this fall, what we don't have available at that point is what our tools are going to be.

Ralph Nader: You've written quite a bit in the Washington Post, New York Times about testing, and you're quite skeptical in a very meticulous way about the accuracy of these tests, whether they’re serology tests or whether the other more prominent type tests. Could you summarize that for our listeners, because I must say, that provoked a lot of pessimism among people who read it, and they said, "Good heavens, you can't rely on this; there are so many ways that these tests can be inaccurate and misleading, false positives, false negatives." Could you clarify that for our listeners?

Dr. Michael Osterholm: Be happy to. There are actually three aspects to this, and I have an op ed in today's New York Times about this very issue. The first one is we just have a shortage of testing for what we call the PCR test [Polymerase chain reaction]. This is the one that detects the actual virus itself-- finding some of the genetic material in it. Everybody keeps promising all this testing. We hear this almost daily at the news briefings that occur. The challenge has been that we need reagents, chemicals that run the test. That's really important, and if we don't have those, you can't run the test. It's like a car without gasoline. The chemical that we take the swab and put it in, basically, to take the virus out of the swab to open it up, grab the RNA material for the virus if it's there, and then present that to the next level of the catalyst. If you don't have that chemical, you can't do anything. It's a car without gas. What happened was, in December, when Wuhan emerged, clearly, testing went up substantially in China, and the world's resources for these reagents, the manufacturing capacity and supply chains handled it with some difficulty, but they handled it. Once the whole world caught on fire with COVID, everybody wanted the test. Billions of people needed testing done, and we just overran our headlights with regards to reagent capability. What we've needed is, really, a national/international effort, almost a Marshall Plan to figure out how we're going to, with the private sector and public sectors coming together, actually make these reagents in a timely way. What can we do? That hasn't happened yet. What we kind of have happening right now is, again, everybody's out there trying to get the reagents for themselves and there are not nearly enough. So, that's a test that we need to have. We should be testing every person who is clinically ill that may have COVID infection every day on that day. That would help us tremendously. The second problem we have is the FDA in reacting to CDC's failure to get a test on the market that we needed and the outcry that occurred because of that decided, well, one of the ways to respond is we'll just open up the floodgates of anybody and everybody who can test, let's let them test. And there was no major oversight for these tests. It was more for the real-time PCR test, but not nearly enough, and on top of it, for the antibody test, all you had to was basically sign a sheet that says, "I can do this with this test," and with no evidence of how effective they were in terms of how they perform. And so these serology tests, in particular, the antibody tests, are now being used out there, and they're horrible. As described by a senior FDA official themselves last week, "They're crap." This has to change. FDA has to agree to assume its responsible position of, really, oversight, of making sure that any test that's on the market works and that people who are going to use it in the clinical labs, and the healthcare settings know how well it works. The last piece is just when you use a screening test, and this is true for any condition, not just COVID infection that is occurring in a low, low level, the test will give you a number of false positives, meaning that, right now, we estimate that, at best, 5 to 15 percent of the U.S. population has been previously infected with this virus, higher in the New York City Metropolitan Area. In many parts of the country, it's still 5%. If you run an antibody test today, which has a very high level of sensitivity and specificity, meaning that you can pick up true positives and you can pick up true negatives, and that's good; you still have as many people testing positive for this antibody that are not as you do actual people who test positive who are. If I tell you, you're positive, but you have one of two chance it's not real.

Ralph Nader: Given the exponential growth of this virus, people ask me, "Is it true that if what we did in March, lockdown, social distance, etcetera, we did in late January, it would have prevented 90% of the cases?" Is there any truth to that?

Dr. Michael Osterholm: No, I don't think so. We surely can slow it down. Our goal, as a public health community, should be to minimize severe disease and death, first and foremost. Second, just prevent infections, period. We know that there are certain people that are higher risks that are having adverse outcomes, generally speaking, older, underlying health conditions, etcetera. We should be trying to keep them protected. Once this virus is out, it's going to spread. It's a respiratory-transmitted virus that basically transmits through aerosols, these very fine particles that you and I put out just talking. If you were here right now in this room that I've been in talking to you for the last X minutes, you'd see my little aerosols floating all around. Best way to remember what an aerosol looks like, when you think about seeing sunlight come through the window in your house and you see this stuff floating in the light, you think, "Oh, my house is dusty," those are aerosols, and just talking produces them. One of the challenges is this is going to transmit, but we could do a lot more to hold it back by the kind of testing, contact tracing, follow-up that we could have done that we didn't do. And this is where I think some countries surely have done a good job, or a better job, at least. The challenge they have, even if we have a big wave of infection, like say in 1918, it's not clear how much we can really do, except be prepared for its impact. It's like an F5 hurricane. You can't miss it. It's going to be there, but you can do a lot to make your community more resilient when it happens and have prepared it beforehand so that the destruction is limited.

Ralph Nader: Some practical advice. Let's say a family in apartment, family of four or five were in the house and one person comes down with it. What exactly should they do? What equipment should they have? And talk about [pulse] oximeters and face masks. What should that family do to protect the rest of them? Because, in China, they took these people and sent them to like warehouses, and they immediately segregated them. They pulled them right out of their families, the reports say, but what do you recommend that people do and be prepared for?

Dr. Michael Osterholm: Well, first of all, what we have to do is get people tested early to know. If you have any signs and symptoms, be tested, and then isolate yourself from the rest of the family. The problem is, I have to be honest with you and say that may be far too late. We know that you're highly infectious two to three days before you get sick. If you've been with your family for that time period, you probably already exposed them. Then, what you have to do is shelter in place together, meaning that I shouldn't be out in public at all, for sure, and my family members shouldn't be because they, then, may become infected, and you wouldn't pick it up until they became clinically ill. But then they were infectious two days before they got clinically ill. The way to stop this is not just to identify cases and remove them. That's almost too late. That's what makes it such a challenge. It really is about once you have been infected and you've exposed others, they then have to wait out this time period to see if they're going to get clinically ill, and that's how we're going to limit transmission.

Ralph Nader: What about immunity after you get infected and recover?

Dr. Michael Osterholm: At this point, we believe there surely is short-term immunity that occurs. The question is will it be long term, and we don't know that. I think in the short term, I'd be confident that somebody's not going to be reinfected, but I can't say, six months from now, they'll still have that protection.

Ralph Nader: Thank you very much. I know you have a lot of other things on your mind.

Dr. Michael Osterholm: I just appreciate this. Unfortunately, I have. Okay, talk to you later. Thank you.

Ralph Nader: Thank you very much, Mike.

Dr. Michael Osterholm: Have a good one, Ralph. Good bye, guys.

Steve Skrovan: We've been speaking with Dr. Michael Osterholm, who has a weekly podcast, the Osterholm Update, COVID-19. We will link to that at RalphNaderRadioHour.com. Now, we're going to take a short break. When we return, we will talk about what this global pandemic has done to our educational system. First, let's check in with our corporate crime reporter, Russell Mokhiber.
Site Admin
Posts: 29983
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: U.S. government gave $3.7 million grant to Wuhan lab at

Postby admin » Fri May 15, 2020 4:40 am

Coronavirus may never go away, World Health Organization warns
by bbc.com
14 May 2020



There are more than 100 potential vaccines currently in development

The coronavirus "may never go away", the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned.

Speaking at a briefing on Wednesday, WHO emergencies director Dr Mike Ryan warned against trying to predict when the virus would disappear.

He added that even if a vaccine is found, controlling the virus will require a "massive effort".

Almost 300,000 people worldwide are reported to have died with coronavirus, and more than 4.3m cases recorded.

The UN meanwhile warned the pandemic was causing widespread distress and mental ill health - particularly in countries where there's a lack of investment in mental healthcare.

The UN urged governments to make mental health considerations part of their overall response.

What did WHO say?

"It is important to put this on the table: this virus may become just another endemic virus in our communities, and this virus may never go away," Dr Ryan told the virtual press conference from Geneva.

"HIV has not gone away - but we have come to terms with the virus."

Dr Ryan then said he doesn't believe "anyone can predict when this disease will disappear".

There are currently more than 100 potential vaccines in development - but Dr Ryan noted there are other illnesses, such as measles, that still haven't been eliminated despite there being vaccines for them.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stressed it was still possible to control the virus, with effort.

"The trajectory is in our hands, and it's everybody's business, and we should all contribute to stop this pandemic," he said.

WHO epidemiologist Maria van Kerkhove also told the briefing: "We need to get into the mindset that it is going to take some time to come out of this pandemic."

Their stark remarks come as several countries began to gradually ease lockdown measures, and leaders consider the issue of how and when to reopen their economies.

Dr Tedros warned that there was no guaranteed way of easing restrictions without triggering a second wave of infections.

"Many countries would like to get out of the different measures," the WHO boss said. "But our recommendation is still the alert at any country should be at the highest level possible."

Dr Ryan added: "There is some magical thinking going on that lockdowns work perfectly and that unlocking lockdowns will go great. Both are fraught with dangers."
Site Admin
Posts: 29983
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: U.S. government gave $3.7 million grant to Wuhan lab at

Postby admin » Mon May 18, 2020 2:39 am

Trump’s covid-19 inaction killed Americans. Here’s a counter that shows how many.
by Eugene Jarecki



Trump Death Clock
Accessed: 5/17/20: 7:45 p.m. Arizona time
Estimated U.S. COVID-19 Deaths Due To POTUS Inaction
In January 2020, the Trump administration was advised that immediate action was required to stop the spread of COVID-19. According to NIAID Director Dr. Anthony Fauci, “there was a lot of pushback” to this advice. President Trump declined to act until March 16th. Epidemiologists now estimate that, had mitigation measures been implemented one week earlier, 60% of American COVID-19 deaths would have been avoided.

(This editorial first appeared in The Washington Post.)

The National Debt Clock hangs above New York City’s Avenue of the Americas as a persistent reminder of a clear message: The United States is recklessly living beyond its means, and this will have grave future consequences. In the same symbolic spirit, it is time for the establishment of a national “death clock” to measure the cost in human lives of President Trump and his team’s reckless handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Reports show that as early as January, the president was advised by both his own experts and the intelligence services of the need for urgent mitigation measures against the spread of the virus. Instead, he engaged in petty political feuds and pollyannish predictions minimizing its significance. Finally, on March 16, he reversed his previously dismissive stance and announced “new guidelines for every American to follow.”

But by then it was too late; The United States was already the world leader in its rate of covid-19 infection and has since become home to one-third of the world’s cases and five times as many as any other country.

Trump Death Clock, Times Square NYC

Anthony S. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has stated that, had the guidelines been implemented earlier, a crucial period in the exponential spread of the virus would have been mitigated and American lives saved. Leading epidemiologists have put a finer point on this, estimating that 50 to 80 percent of covid-19 deaths in New York and approximately 90 percent of all American covid-19 deaths can now be attributed to the administration’s delay between March 2 and 16.
This suffering cannot be forgotten.
As of today, tens of thousands of Americans have lost their lives as a consequence of the administration’s failure to act sooner, so it’s no wonder the president excoriates reporters who ask him why he waited so long to implement the guidelines. Trump’s fallback when he is under scrutiny is to deflect, attack, and distract. But will this work when his decisions have led to a loss of American lives? How will the President be held responsible?

It’s all in the branding, that stuff Trump himself does so well when he applies derisive nicknames to his rivals or attaches the name of a foreign power to a global pandemic. Accountability needs a brand, and the National Debt Clock is a helpful precedent. It demonstrates how to plant a symbolic flag in the numbers — one that can’t be knocked over by bluster or misleading campaign videos. This pandemic is ongoing, and the lives already unnecessarily lost demand we seek more responsible crisis leadership. Just as the names of fallen soldiers are etched on memorials to remind us of the cost of war, quantifying the lives lost to the president’s delayed coronavirus response would serve a vital public function.

Trump Death Clock, Times Square NYC

Trump’s career is built on finding shortcuts. Against the virus, there are none.

Designing a death clock must be based on mathematical models. Trump and his defenders may wish to assign blame to other countries, individuals, and institutions. His detractors, on the other hand, may wish to assess the consequences of his statements, decisions, and actions earlier than March. But a death clock must not reflect conjecture and needs to exist outside the news cycle, identifying only that portion of deaths which, according to experts, have resulted directly from the president and his team’s delayed response.

Conservatively, according to epidemiologists, had the Trump administration simply implemented mitigation guidelines by March 9, approximately 60 percent of American covid-19 deaths could have been avoided.

To let the numbers speak for themselves, my team and I have constructed an online counter at TrumpDeathClock.com, estimating the toll of the White House’s delayed response. The site displays both the number of people who have died in the country from covid-19 and an estimate of that portion whose lives would have been saved had the president and his administration acted just one week earlier.

What a powerful statement it would be if this clock could be displayed on billboards and projected on buildings in cities and small towns across America. This would begin to honor those who lost their lives and, in their memory, demand more responsive and responsible leadership.
Site Admin
Posts: 29983
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: U.S. government gave $3.7 million grant to Wuhan lab at

Postby admin » Mon May 18, 2020 2:55 am

Fauci admits earlier Covid-19 mitigation efforts would have saved more American lives
by Devan Cole
Updated 2:55 PM ET, Sun April 12, 2020



Washington (CNN)Dr. Anthony Fauci said Sunday that calls to implement life-saving social distancing measures faced "a lot of pushback" early in the US coronavirus outbreak and that the country is now looking for ways to more effectively respond to the virus should it rebound in the fall.

"I mean, obviously, you could logically say that if you had a process that was ongoing and you started mitigation earlier, you could have saved lives," Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, told CNN's Jake Tapper on "State of the Union" when asked if social distancing and stay-at-home measures could have prevented deaths had they been put in place in February, instead of mid-March.

"Obviously, no one is going to deny that. But what goes into those decisions is complicated," added Fauci, who is a key member of the Trump administration's coronavirus task force. "But you're right, I mean, obviously, if we had right from the very beginning shut everything down, it may have been a little bit different. But there was a lot of pushback about shutting things down back then."

Asked why the President didn't recommend social distancing guidelines until mid-March -- about three weeks after the nation's top health experts recommended they be put in place -- Fauci said, "You know, Jake, as I have said many times, we look at it from a pure health standpoint. We make a recommendation. Often, the recommendation is taken. Sometimes it's not. But we -- it is what it is. We are where we are right now."

The comments from Fauci come a day after a report from The New York Times detailed the Trump administration's missteps in the early days of the pandemic and how President Donald Trump ignored his advisers' warnings of the potentially deadly disease.

An administration official separately confirmed to CNN that the government's top public health experts agreed in the third week of February on the need to begin moving away from a containment strategy and toward a mitigation strategy that would involve strong social distancing measures. The agreement among the health officials came after they held a tabletop exercise to game out the potential for a full-blown pandemic.

According to the Times report, Dr. Robert Kadlec, the top disaster response official at the Department of Health and Human Services, convened the White House coronavirus task force on February 21. During his meeting, the group conducted a mock-up exercise of the pandemic that predicted 110 million infections, 7.7 million hospitalizations and 586,000 deaths.

The group "concluded they would soon need to move toward aggressive social distancing, even at the risk of severe disruption to the nation's economy and the daily lives of millions of Americans," but it took more than three weeks for Trump to enact such guidelines on March 16.

Fauci told Tapper that "there is always a possibility, as we get into next fall and the beginning of early winter that we could see a rebound," in the virus, but the lessons learned from the first iteration of it should help the US better respond to a potential new wave.

"Hopefully, hopefully, what we have gone through now and the capability that we have for much, much better testing capability, much, much better surveillance capability, and the ability to respond with countermeasures, with drugs that work, that it will be an entirely different ball game," he said.

'Not going to be a light switch'

With health experts and some elected officials saying the US is starting to see the effectiveness of social distancing measures put in place last month, Americans are wondering when the country can begin to ease up on the guidance.

Fauci said Sunday that the process of returning to normal "is not going to be a light switch that we say, 'OK, it is now June, July' ... click -- the light switch goes back on."

He added: "It's going to be depending where you are in the country, the nature of the outbreak that you have already experienced and the threat of an outbreak that you may not have experienced. So it's going to have to look at the situation in different parts of the country."

Asked by Tapper when he thought that process could start, Fauci said he thinks "it could probably start at least in some ways maybe next month," but noted that it's "difficult" to make those types of predictions and officials are trying to open the country "appropriately."

Trump said Saturday night that he hopes to make a decision "fairly soon" on when to reopen the country amid the coronavirus pandemic, telling Fox News' Jeanine Pirro, "We have to bring our country back. So, I'll be making a decision reasonably soon, we're setting up a council now of some of the most distinguished leaders in virtually every field -- including politics, and business and medical -- and we'll be making that decision fairly soon."

But as Trump leans in to his desire to reopen the nation's economy by May 1, America's governors and mayors, who hold the power to enforce closures and who have often taken a far more aggressive posture on protecting public health, stand in his way.

An ominous warning

The director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation said Sunday that if the social distancing measures and closures were relaxed on May 1, the country would see a rebound of coronavirus cases.

"We don't think the capability in the states exists yet to deal with that volume of cases and so by July or August we could be back in the same situation we are in now" if there was premature opening of the country, Dr. Christopher Murray said on CBS, adding that West Coast states that are further along in the pandemic will still need "weeks of closures" beyond the peak for the opportunity to conduct proper testing and contact tracing.

Relaxing closures and social distancing measures on a rolling basis, he said, poses a new set of questions that have not been addressed.

"Of course there's a big issue of states are on different timings of their epidemics, which we know is the case. How are they going to control importation from other states into their state?" Murray said.

The inconsistent state mitigation policies have also been a problem for the modeling of the pandemic, according to Murray, who said that "incomplete implementation of social distancing closures in many states (is) adding a degree of uncertainty."

The World Health Organization special envoy, Dr. David Nabarro, went a step further in an interview with NBC on Sunday, issuing an ominous warning about coronavirus, which has already infected more than 1,827,000 people worldwide.

"We're not so sure that it will come in waves in the way that influenza does," he said. "We think it's going to be a virus that stalks the human race for quite a long time to come until we can all have a vaccine that will protect us and that there will be small outbreaks that will emerge sporadically and they will break through our defenses."

Nabarro said it will be "key" for countries to "pick up cases as soon as they appear, isolate them and stop outbreaks from developing."

There are more than 530,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the US, and more than 20,600 Americans have died, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University.

This story has been updated with additional developments Sunday.

CNN's Kevin Bohn, Maeve Reston, Maegan Vazquez, Jason Hoffman, Kristen Holmes, Jeremy Diamond and Wes Bruer contributed to this report.
Site Admin
Posts: 29983
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: U.S. government gave $3.7 million grant to Wuhan lab at

Postby admin » Mon May 18, 2020 3:15 am

He Could Have Seen What Was Coming: Behind Trump’s Failure on the Virus: An examination reveals the president was warned about the potential for a pandemic but that internal divisions, lack of planning and his faith in his own instincts led to a halting response.
by Eric Lipton, David E. Sanger, Maggie Haberman, Michael D. Shear, Mark Mazzetti and Julian E. Barnes
New York Times
Published April 11, 2020
Updated May 4, 2020



WASHINGTON — “Any way you cut it, this is going to be bad,” a senior medical adviser at the Department of Veterans Affairs, Dr. Carter Mecher, wrote on the night of Jan. 28, in an email to a group of public health experts scattered around the government and universities. “The projected size of the outbreak already seems hard to believe.”

A week after the first coronavirus case had been identified in the United States, and six long weeks before President Trump finally took aggressive action to confront the danger the nation was facing — a pandemic that is now forecast to take tens of thousands of American lives — Dr. Mecher was urging the upper ranks of the nation’s public health bureaucracy to wake up and prepare for the possibility of far more drastic action.

“You guys made fun of me screaming to close the schools,” he wrote to the group, which called itself “Red Dawn,” an inside joke based on the 1984 movie about a band of Americans trying to save the country after a foreign invasion. “Now I’m screaming, close the colleges and universities.”

His was hardly a lone voice. Throughout January, as Mr. Trump repeatedly played down the seriousness of the virus and focused on other issues, an array of figures inside his government — from top White House advisers to experts deep in the cabinet departments and intelligence agencies — identified the threat, sounded alarms and made clear the need for aggressive action.

The president, though, was slow to absorb the scale of the risk and to act accordingly, focusing instead on controlling the message, protecting gains in the economy and batting away warnings from senior officials.
It was a problem, he said, that had come out of nowhere and could not have been foreseen.

Even after Mr. Trump took his first concrete action at the end of January — limiting travel from China — public health often had to compete with economic and political considerations in internal debates, slowing the path toward belated decisions to seek more money from Congress, obtain necessary supplies, address shortfalls in testing and ultimately move to keep much of the nation at home.

Unfolding as it did in the wake of his impeachment by the House and in the midst of his Senate trial, Mr. Trump’s response was colored by his suspicion of and disdain for what he viewed as the “Deep State” — the very people in his government whose expertise and long experience might have guided him more quickly toward steps that would slow the virus, and likely save lives.

In sum, Democrats and their supporters had the exact prosecutor they all agreed was the embodiment of competence and integrity in Robert Mueller. He assembled a team of prosecutors and investigators that countless media accounts heralded as the most aggressive and adept in the nation. They had subpoena power, the vast surveillance apparatus of the U.S. government at their disposal, a demonstrated willingness to imprison anyone who lied to them, and unlimited time and resources to dig up everything they could.

The result of all of that was that not a single American – whether with the Trump campaign or otherwise – was charged or indicted on the core question of whether there was any conspiracy or coordination with Russia over the election. No Americans were charged or even accused of being controlled by or working at the behest of the Russian government. None of the key White House aides at the center of the controversy who testified for hours and hours – including Donald Trump, Jr. or Jared Kushner – were charged with any crimes of any kind, not even perjury, obstruction of justice or lying to Congress.

These facts are fatal to the conspiracy theorists who have drowned U.S. discourse for almost three years with a dangerous and distracting fixation on a fictitious espionage thriller involved unhinged claims of sexual and financial blackmail, nefarious infiltration of the U.S. Government by familiar foreign villains, and election cheating that empowered an illegitimate President. They got the exact prosecutor and investigation that they wanted, yet he could not establish that any of this happened and, in many cases, established that it did not.

THE ANTI-CLIMACTIC ENDING of the Mueller investigation is particularly stunning given how broad Mueller’s investigative scope ended up being, extending far beyond the 2016 election into years worth of Trump’s alleged financial dealings with Russia (and, obviously, Manafort’s with Ukraine and Russia). There can simply be no credible claim that Mueller was, in any meaningful way, impeded by scope, resources or topic limitation from finding anything for which he searched.

Despite efforts today by long-time conspiracist theorists to drastically move goalposts so as to claim vindication, the historical record could not be clearer that Mueller’s central mandate was to determine whether crimes were committed by Trump officials in connection with alleged Russian interference in the election. The first paragraph of the New York Times article from May, 2017, announcing Mueller’s appointment, leaves no doubt about that:

The Justice Department appointed Robert S. Mueller III, a former F.B.I. director, as special counsel on Wednesday to oversee the investigation into ties between President Trump’s campaign and Russian officials, dramatically raising the legal and political stakes in an affair that has threatened to engulf Mr. Trump’s four-month-old presidency.

As recently as one month ago, former CIA Director and current NBC News analyst John Brennan was confidently predicting that Mueller could not possibly close his investigation without first indicting a slew of Americans for criminally conspiring with Russia over the election, and specifically predicted that Trump’s family members would be included among those so charged:

Terry Moran

John Brennan has a lot to answer for—going before the American public for months, cloaked with CIA authority and openly suggesting he’s got secret info, and repeatedly turning in performances like this.

Embedded video
7:46 PM - Mar 24, 2019 · Washington, DC
Twitter Ads info and privacy
11.5K people are talking about this

Obviously, none of that happened. Nor were any of the original accusations that launched this three-year-long mania — from an accusatory August, 2016 online commercial from the Clinton campaign — corroborated by the Mueller Report:

Indeed, so many of the most touted media “bombshells” claiming to establish Trump/Russia crimes have been proven false by this report. Despite an extensive discussion of Paul Manafort’s activities, nothing in the Report even hints, let alone states, that he ever visited Julian Assange in the Ecuadorian Embassy, let alone visited him three times, including during the 2016 election. How the Guardian could justify still not retracting that false story is mystifying.

Faring even worse is the Buzzfeed bombshell from January claiming that “President Donald Trump directed his longtime attorney Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow” and that “Cohen also told the special counsel that after the election, the president personally instructed him to lie — by claiming that negotiations ended months earlier than they actually did — in order to obscure Trump’s involvement.” Mueller himself responded to the story by insisting it was false, and his Report directly contradicts it, as it makes clear that Cohen told Mueller the exact opposite:

But Cohen said that he and the President did not explicitly discuss whether Cohen's testimony about the Trump Tower Moscow project would be or was false, and the President did not direct him to provide false testimony. Cohen also said he did not tell the President about the specifics of his planned testimony. During the time when his statement to Congress was being drafted and circulated to members of the JDA, Cohen did not speak directly to the President about the statement, but rather communicated with the President's personal counsel -- as corroborated by phone records showing extensive communications between Cohen and the President's personal counsel before Cohen submitted his statement and when he testified before Congress.

Equally debunked is CNN’s major blockbuster by Jim Sciutto, Carl Bernstein, and Marshall Cohen from last July that “Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney, claims that then-candidate Trump knew in advance about the June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower.” The Mueller Report says the exact opposite: that Cohen had no knowledge of Trump’s advanced knowledge.

And the less said about the Steele Dossier, pee-pee tapes, secret meetings in Prague, and indescribably unhinged claims like this one, the better:

But beyond the gutting of these core conspiracy claims is that Mueller’s investigation probed areas far beyond the initial scope of Trump/Russia election-conspiring, and came up empty. Among other things, Mueller specifically examined Trump’s financial dealings with Russia to determine whether that constituted incriminating evidence of corrupt links:

Because Trump’s status as a public figure at the time was attributable in large part to his prior business and entertainment dealings, this Office investigated whether a business contact with Russia-linked individuals and entities during the campaign period—the Trump Tower Moscow project, see Volume I, Section IV.A.1, infra—led to or involved coordination.

Indeed, Mueller’s examination of Trump’s financial dealings with Russia long pre-dates the start of the Trump campaign, going back several years before the election:

Between at least 2013 and 2016, the Trump Organization explored a similar licensing deal in Russia involving the construction of a Trump-branded property in Moscow. The project, commonly referred to as a "Trump Tower Moscow" or "Trump Moscow" project, anticipated a combination of commercial, hotel, and residential properties all within the same building. Between 2013 and June 2016, several employees of the Trump Organization, including then-president of the organization Donald J. Trump, pursued a Moscow deal with several Russian counterparties. From the fall of 2015 until the middle of 2016, Michael Cohen spearheaded the Trump Organization's pursuit of a Trump Tower Moscow project, including by reporting on the project's status to candidate Trump and other executives in the Trump Organization.290

Mueller additionally made clear that he received authorization to investigate numerous Americans for ties to Russia despite their not being formally associated with the Trump campaign, including Michael Cohen and Roger Stone. And regarding Cohen, Mueller specifically was authorized to investigate any attempts by Cohen to “receive funds from Russia-backed entities.” None of this deep diving to other individuals or years of alleged financial dealings with Russian resulted in any finding that Trump or any of his associates were controlled by, or corruptly involved with, the Russian government.

Then there is the issue of Manafort’s relationship with the Ukrainians, and specifically his providing of polling data to Konstantin Kilimnik, an episode which Trump/Putin conspiracist Marcy Wheeler, along with many others, particularly hyped over and over. To begin with, Mueller said his office “did not identify evidence of a connection” between that act and “Russian interference in the election,” nor did he “establish that Manafort otherwise coordinated with the Russian government on its election-inteference efforts”:

Because of questions about Manafort's credibility and our limited ability to gather evidence on what happened to the polling data after it was sent to Kilimnik, the Office could not assess what Kilimnik (or others he may have given it to) did with it. The Office did not identify evidence of a connection between Manafort's sharing polling data and Russia's interference in the election, which had already been reported by U.S. media outlets at the time of the August 2 meeting. The investigation did not establish that Manafort otherwise coordinated with the Russian government on its election-interference efforts.

Also endlessly hyped by Wheeler and other conspiracists were the post-election contacts between Trump and Russia: as though it’s unusual that a major power would seek to build new, constructive relationships with a newly elected administration. Indeed, Wheeler went so far as to cite these post-election contacts to turn her own source into the FBI on the ground that it constituted smoking gun evidence, an act for which she was praised by the Washington Post (nothing Wheeler claimed about the evidence “related to the Mueller investigation” that she claimed to possess appears to be in the Mueller Report). Here again, the Mueller Report could not substantiate any of these claims:

B. Post-Election and Transition-Period Contacts

Trump was elected President on November 8, 2016. Beginning immediately after the election, individuals connected to the Russian government started contacting officials on the Trump Campaign and Transition Team through multiple channels -- sometimes through Russian Ambassador Kislyak and at other times through individuals who sought reliable contacts through U.S. persons not formally tied to the Campaign or Transition Team. The most senior levels of the Russian government encouraged these efforts. The investigation did not establish that these efforts reflected or constituted coordination between the Trump Campaign and Russia in its election-interference activities.

The centerpiece of the Trump/Russia conspiracy – the Trump Tower meeting – was such a dud that Jared Kushner, halfway through the meeting, texted Manafort to declare the meeting “a waste of time,” and then instructed his assistant to call him so that he could concoct a reason to leave. Not only could Mueller not find any criminality in this meeting relating to election conspiring, but he could not even use election law to claim it was an illegal gift of something of value from a foreigner, because, among other things, the information offered was of so little value that it could not even pass the $2,000 threshold required to charge someone for a misdemeanor, let alone the $25,000 required to make it a felony.

Neither the Trump Tower meeting itself nor its participants – for so long held up as proof of the Trump/Russia conspiracy – could serve as the basis for any finding of criminality. Indeed, the key Trumpworld participants who testified about what happened at that meeting and its aftermath (Trump Jr. and Kushner) were not even accused by Mueller of lying about any of it.

NONE OF THIS IS TO SAY that the Mueller Report exonerates Trump of wrongdoing. Mueller makes clear, for instance, that the Trump campaign not only knew that Russia was interested in helping it win the election but was happy to have that help. There’s clearly nothing criminal about that. One can debate whether it’s unethical for a presidential campaign to have dirt about its opponent released by a foreign government, though anyone who wants to argue that has to reconcile that with the fact that the DNC had a contractor working with the Ukrainian government to help Hillary Clinton win by feeding them dirt on Trump and Manafort, as well as a paid operative named Christopher Steele (remember him?) working with Russian officials to get dirt on Trump.

Ukrainian efforts to sabotage Trump backfire
Kiev officials are scrambling to make amends with the president-elect after quietly working to boost Clinton.
By Kenneth P. Vogel and David Stern
01/11/2017 05:05 AM EST

As is true of all investigations, Mueller’s team could not access all relevant information. Some was rendered inaccessible through encryption. Other information was deleted, perhaps with corrupt motives. And some witnesses lied or otherwise tried to obstruct the investigation. As a result, it’s of course possible that incriminating evidence existed that Mueller – armed with subpoena power, unlimited resources, 22 months of investigative work, and a huge team of top-flight prosecutors, FBI agents, intelligence analysts and forensic accountants – did not find.

But anything is possible. It’s inherently possible that anyone is guilty of any crime but that the evidence just cannot be found to prove it. One cannot prove a negative. But the only way to rationally assess what happened is by looking at the evidence that is available, and that’s what Mueller did. And there’s simply no persuasive way – after heralding Mueller and his team as the top-notch investigators that they are and building up expectations about what this would produce – for any honest person to deny that the end of the Mueller investigation was a huge failure from the perspective of those who pushed these conspiracies.

Mueller certainly provides substantial evidence that Russians attempted to meddle in various ways in the U.S. election, including by hacking the DNC and Podesta and through Facebook posts and tweets. There is, however, no real evidence that Putin himself ordered this, as was claimed since mid-2016. But that Russia had done such things has been unsurprising from the start, given how common it is for the U.S. and Russia to meddle in everyone’s affairs, including one another’s, but the scope and size of it continues to be minute in the context of overall election spending:

To reach larger U.S. audiences, the IRA purchased advertisements from Facebook that promoted the IRA groups on the newsfeeds of U.S. audience members. According to Facebook, the IRA purchased over 3,500 advertisements, and the expenditures totaled approximately $100,000.

The section of Mueller’s report on whether Trump criminally attempted to obstruct the investigation is full of evidence and episodes that show Trump being dishonest, misleading, and willing to invoke potentially corrupt tactics to put an end to it. But ultimately, the most extreme of those tactics were not invoked (at times because Trump’s aides refused), and the actions in which Trump engaged were simply not enough for Mueller to conclude that he was guilty of criminal obstruction.

As Mueller himself concluded, a reasonable debate can be conducted on whether Trump tried to obstruct his investigation with corrupt intent. But even on the case of obstruction, the central point looms large over all of it: there was no underlying crime established for Trump to cover-up.

All criminal investigations require a determination of a person’s intent, what they are thinking and what their goal is. When the question is whether a President sought to kill an Executive Branch investigation – as Trump clearly wanted to do here – the determinative issue is whether he did so because he genuinely believed the investigation to be an unfair persecution and scam, or whether he did it to corruptly conceal evidence of criminality.

That Mueller could not and did not establish any underlying crimes strongly suggests that Trump acted with the former rather than the latter motive, making it virtually impossible to find that he criminally obstructed the investigation.

THE NATURE OF OUR POLITICAL DISCOURSE is that nobody ever needs to admit error because it is easy to confine oneself to strictly partisan precincts where people are far more interested in hearing what advances their agenda or affirms their beliefs than they are hearing the truth. For that reason, I doubt that anyone who spent the last three years pushing utterly concocted conspiracy theories will own up to it, let alone confront any accountability or consequences for it.

But certain facts will never go away no matter how much denial they embrace. The sweeping Mueller investigation ended with zero indictments of zero Americans for conspiring with Russia over the 2016 election. Both Donald Trump, Jr. and Jared Kushner – the key participants in the Trump Tower meeting – testified for hours and hours yet were never charged for perjury, lying or obstruction, even though Mueller proved how easily he would indict anyone who lied as part of the investigation. And this massive investigation simply did not establish any of the conspiracy theories that huge parts of the Democratic Party, the intelligence community and the U.S. media spent years encouraging the public to believe.

Those responsible for this can refuse to acknowledge wrongdoing. They can even claim vindication if they want and will likely be cheered for doing so.

But the contempt in which the media and political class is held by so much of the U.S. population – undoubtedly a leading factor that led to Trump’s election in the first place – will only continue to grow as a result, and deservedly so. People know they were scammed, that their politics was drowned for years by a hoax. And none of that will go away no matter how insulated media and political elites in Washington, northern Virginia, Brooklyn, and large West Coast cities keep themselves, and thus hear only in-group affirmation while blocking out all of that well-earned scorn.

-- Robert Mueller Did Not Merely Reject the Trump-Russia Conspiracy Theories. He Obliterated Them, by Glenn Greenwald

Decision-making was also complicated by a long-running dispute inside the administration over how to deal with China. The virus at first took a back seat to a desire not to upset Beijing during trade talks, but later the impulse to score points against Beijing left the world’s two leading powers further divided as they confronted one of the first truly global threats of the 21st century.

The shortcomings of Mr. Trump’s performance have played out with remarkable transparency as part of his daily effort to dominate television screens and the national conversation.

But dozens of interviews with current and former officials and a review of emails and other records revealed many previously unreported details and a fuller picture of the roots and extent of his halting response as the deadly virus spread:

The National Security Council office responsible for tracking pandemics received intelligence reports in early January predicting the spread of the virus to the United States, and within weeks was raising options like keeping Americans home from work and shutting down cities the size of Chicago. Mr. Trump would avoid such steps until March.

Despite Mr. Trump’s denial weeks later, he was told at the time about a Jan. 29 memo produced by his trade adviser, Peter Navarro, laying out in striking detail the potential risks of a coronavirus pandemic: as many as half a million deaths and trillions of dollars in economic losses.

The health and human services secretary, Alex M. Azar II, directly warned Mr. Trump of the possibility of a pandemic during a call on Jan. 30, the second warning he delivered to the president about the virus in two weeks. The president, who was on Air Force One while traveling for appearances in the Midwest, responded that Mr. Azar was being alarmist.

Mr. Azar publicly announced in February that the government was establishing a “surveillance” system in five American cities to measure the spread of the virus and enable experts to project the next hot spots. It was delayed for weeks. The slow start of that plan, on top of the well-documented failures to develop the nation’s testing capacity, left administration officials with almost no insight into how rapidly the virus was spreading. “We were flying the plane with no instruments,” one official said.

By the third week in February, the administration’s top public health experts concluded they should recommend to Mr. Trump a new approach that would include warning the American people of the risks and urging steps like social distancing and staying home from work. But the White House focused instead on messaging and crucial additional weeks went by before their views were reluctantly accepted by the president — time when the virus spread largely unimpeded.

When Mr. Trump finally agreed in mid-March to recommend social distancing across the country, effectively bringing much of the economy to a halt, he seemed shellshocked and deflated to some of his closest associates. One described him as “subdued” and “baffled” by how the crisis had played out. An economy that he had wagered his re-election on was suddenly in shambles.

He only regained his swagger, the associate said, from conducting his daily White House briefings, at which he often seeks to rewrite the history of the past several months. He declared at one point that he “felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic,” and insisted at another that he had to be a “cheerleader for the country,” as if that explained why he failed to prepare the public for what was coming.

Mr. Trump’s allies and some administration officials say the criticism has been unfair. The Chinese government misled other governments, they say. And they insist that the president was either not getting proper information, or the people around him weren’t conveying the urgency of the threat. In some cases, they argue, the specific officials he was hearing from had been discredited in his eyes, but once the right information got to him through other channels, he made the right calls.

“While the media and Democrats refused to seriously acknowledge this virus in January and February, President Trump took bold action to protect Americans and unleash the full power of the federal government to curb the spread of the virus, expand testing capacities and expedite vaccine development even when we had no true idea the level of transmission or asymptomatic spread,” said Judd Deere, a White House spokesman.

There were key turning points along the way, opportunities for Mr. Trump to get ahead of the virus rather than just chase it. There were internal debates that presented him with stark choices, and moments when he could have chosen to ask deeper questions and learn more. How he handled them may shape his re-election campaign. They will certainly shape his legacy.

The Containment Illusion

By the last week of February, it was clear to the administration’s public health team that schools and businesses in hot spots would have to close. But in the turbulence of the Trump White House, it took three more weeks to persuade the president that failure to act quickly to control the spread of the virus would have dire consequences.
Site Admin
Posts: 29983
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: U.S. government gave $3.7 million grant to Wuhan lab at

Postby admin » Wed Jun 03, 2020 8:15 am

COVID-19: Scientists Have High Hopes For Potential Breakthrough Virus Blocker
by Joe Lombardi
05/25/2020 7:03 p.m.

Strains of cannabis Photo Credit: MOCA via Wikimedia Commons

A team of scientists has high hopes for a potential breakthrough blocker for the novel strain of coronavirus (COVID-19).

It has discovered that strains of medical cannabis may help prevent contracting COVID infections.

At least a dozen cannabis plants of the hundreds tested were high in CBD that appeared to affect the ACE2 pathways that the virus uses to access the body, the researchers from the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada discovered.

The findings won't lead to a vaccine, but rather other delivery methods that could make people more resistant to COVID-19, says the Calgary Herald in this report.

Early indications are that the cannabis extracts could be used in mouthwash and throat gargle products as well as inhalers for both at-home treatment and clinical practice, according to CTV News.

The scientists say COVID's entry points could potentially be reduced by as much as 70 to 80 percent by cannabis.

“Our work could have a huge influence — there aren’t many drugs that have the potential of reducing infection by 70 to 80 percent,” one of the scientists told the Calgary Herald.

The next steps are for the study to be peer-reviewed and for clinical trials to be scheduled.

The scientists' results were published in Preprints, an online journal.
Site Admin
Posts: 29983
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am


Return to Health

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests