The global economy was already reeling under an economic slowdown owing to a host of factors primarily the Trade War induced disruptions which had tempered global growth in which China was the prime sufferer. To add to the misery, a disastrous blow of Coronavirus (COVID-19) which is a biological Chernobyl for China infected nearly 90,000 people, killing more than 3000 people with nearly 75 million people in 21 cities in China under lockdown. The horrific scenes coming out from China show ghost cities, empty roads, closed factories and hospitals flooded with patients infected and dying from this virus. It has been reported that Chinese is carrying out mass cremations in Wuhan in Hubei province from where this virus has spread across China and now globally.
Novel Coronavirus or COVID 2019 is mutated strand of the same virus family which lead to outbreak SARS in 2003 though it is more aggressive in spreading compared to SARS yet less deadlier than SARS whose mortality rate was 9.6% while for COVID 19 it is 3.8% as confirmed by WHO. However the fatality ratio in Wuhan, China the epicentre of epidemic was 5.8% while Italy’s fatality rate for COVID-19 spread is at 6.2% making more lethal given its aggressive spread across the world. COVID 19 is now airborne i.e. it has spread across the world now via human to human contact, through droplets in air making it a black swan event of a global pandemic. a first after the Spanish Flu of 1918 which killed millions of people.
Every event has a trigger and COVID-19 spread was not a disease outbreak from Wuhan Sea food market or bats which are known carrier of Coronavirus. A report “Possible Origins of 2019-nCoV Coronavirus”, published by biologists Batao Xiao and Lei Xiao, South China University of Technology, Guangzhou, China claims the Coronavirus or COVID 19 as known now originated from the Wuhan laboratory and not the nearby sea food market or the bats contesting the official claims of Beijing. The research by scientists claims there are two labs one i.e. Wuhan Center for Disease Control and Prevention which is 280 meters from the seafood market where animals like bats were being used for testing the new strand of Coronavirus as they are good vectors of the same. The report claims that the first group of doctors were infected in Union Hospital next to it making a case that it probably leaked out of the lab infecting people from where it spread outside. The other laboratory Wuhan Institute of Virology of the Chinese academy of Sciences is seven miles away. This is the same lab from which SAR S COV had leaked out and the investigators found the lab was reverse engineering SARS COV and developing a new virus using genetic engineering. Mysteriously this research report was immediately pulled down.
In a recent scientific study published on 15th February 2020 in ‘The Lancnet’, titled “Clinical features of patients infected with Noval Coronavirus in Wuhan, China” stated that, ‘The symptom onset date of the first patient identified was Dec 1, 2019. None of his family members developed fever or any respiratory symptoms. No epidemiological link was found between the first patient and later cases”. Thereby meaning there was no link to spread of COVID 19 and Wuhan Sea Food Market and the virus in all probability got leaked from Wuhan Laboratories infecting people around. These laboratories are part of China’s Biological Warfare programme and an accidental leak caused this travesty where China has invoked all its might and even armed forces to quell the spread of this virus with mass quarantine centres setup in Wuhan and elsewhere. Chinese Communist Party is making an all-out effort to deflect and hide the blame from this leak akin to Biological Chernobyl, by unleashing a social media disinformation campaign. silencing the critics who question Beijing’s version holding the regime accountable for its massive failure in this unprecedented health crisis.
A glaring attempt of China’s culpability in trying to suppress and quell information about outbreak of COVID-19 is visible when a journalist posted a notice put up at Naval University of Engineering in Wuhan (one of the military universities of PLA) on 2nd January 2020 issuing a lockdown on the campus due to an unexplained outbreak of Pneumonia. 18 days later that the Chinese government admitted the outbreak of Coronavirus COVID-19 and 3 days post it Wuhan City was put on a lockdown. Had it not been Chinese New Years’ time when most of Chinese citizens go to their homes on account of the national holiday, things would probably have been worse.
China has been hiding the scale and source of infection only to imperil the world as the Coronavirus has now spread across the world with countries like Italy, Iran, France and even United States facing infections of COVID 19 in thousands and hundreds of deaths being reported. COVID-19 has now spread across almost all countries across the world with Italy declaring a countrywide emergency, Iran struggling to contain it and South Korea, Japan working on a war footing to contain as it threatens to overwhelm the Tokyo Olympics Games 2020. The no of infected person has crossed 1,10,000 globally with the death toll crossing 4000 and nearly 64,000 people having recovered. The COVID-19 virus has mutated into two strains, the S strain which is milder but aggressive in spreading across the world while the L strain which is more lethal but less aggressive, later one mostly spread in China.
Chinese Biological Warfare
The origin of this virus in Wuhan Labs has highlighted the espionage angle by Chinese scientists. It was reported in July 2019 that a Chinese couple Dr Xiangguo Qiu and her husband Keding Cheng’s access to National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg, Canada was cut off for suspected espionage of biologically hazardous pathogens to laboratories in China. Mr Cheng had also written various papers on HIV infections, SARS, E coli while Dr Qiu, a medical doctor from Tianjin, China was involved in the study of Anti-Viral treatments, Pathogens in Canada. Subsequently it was also discovered that Cheng, the Canadian scientist made frequent trips to China in 2016-2017 and even trained Chinese scientists on handling level 4 virology labs while Dr Qiu was even invited to Wuhan National Biosafety Laboratory. On 28th January 2020, US Department of Justice charged the Chair of Harvard University’s Chemistry and Chemical Biology Department and two Chinese nationals for espionage on research of Deadly Pathogens and aiding the foreign government clandestinely.
US Department of Justice made the case of espionage by Chinese nationals as part of China’s “Thousand Talent Plan”. US Congressional Report on Home Affairs provides details about China’s “Thousand Talent Plan” to steal critical technology, intellectual property and data to develop and harness its own technological prowess and states that the access to biological labs should be curtailed for developing a bio warfare program. Even FBI has in its finding had indicted China for medical and biological espionage. in such damning evidence, the silence of WHO and the international community to call out China’s irresponsible actions that are threatening the world is not only baffling but points to something nefarious altogether.
It is imperative to understand how lethal this COVID-19 Coronavirus which has been bio engineered in the labs in Wuhan, China. A recent study by Indian scientists put out in their research paper dt 31st January 2020 on decoding the genome of Coronavirus COVID 19 stated that, “We found 4 insertions in the spike glycoprotein (S) which are unique to the 2019-nCoV and are not present in other coronaviruses. Importantly, amino acid residues in all the 4 inserts have identity or similarity to those in the HIV-1 gp120 or HIV-1 Gag. Interestingly, despite the inserts being discontinuous on the primary amino acid sequence, 3D-modelling of the 2019-nCoV suggests that they converge to constitute the receptor binding site. The finding of 4 unique inserts in the 2019-nCoV, all of which have identity /similarity to amino acid residues in key structural proteins of HIV-1 is unlikely to be fortuitous in nature.” This paper created a furore across the globe by stating that Novel Coronavirus 19 strands had inserts of HIV and subsequently the paper was withdrawn for want of peer review.
In a recent research paper ‘Wuhan 2019 Coronavirus S Protein may have Furin protease cleavage sites’ dt 14.02.2020 from Professor Ruan Jishou and his team at Nankai University in Tianjin, China found genes in COVID-19 which did not exist in SARS but can be found in both of the viruses responsible for spreading HIV and Ebola. This finding suggests that 2019-nCoV may be significantly different from the SARS coronavirus in the infection pathway. This virus may use the packing mechanisms of other viruses such as HIV. According to the study, the mutation can generate a structure known as a cleavage site in the new coronavirus’ spike protein. The virus uses the outreaching spike protein to hook on to the host cell, but normally this protein is inactive. The cleavage site structure’s job is to trick the human furin protein, so it will cut and activate the spike protein and cause a “direct fusion” of the viral and cellular membranes. Compared to the SARS way of entry, this binding method is “100 to 1,000 times” as efficient, according to the study. This paper is however yet to be peer reviewed.
In a follow-up study titled ‘Furin, a therapeutic target for COVID-19’ dt 23rd February 2020, a research team led by Professor Li Hua from Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan, Hubei province, confirmed Ruan’s findings. The mutation in COVID-19 could not be found in Sars, Mers or Bat-CoVRaTG13, a bat coronavirus that was considered the original source of the new coronavirus with 96 per cent similarity in genes. This could be “the reason why SARS-CoV-2 is more infectious than other coronaviruses”, Li wrote in the paper. Chinese researchers said drugs targeting the furin enzyme could have the potential to hinder the virus’s replication in the human body. These include “a series of HIV-1 therapeutic drugs such as Indinavir, Tenofovir Alafenamide, Tenofovir Disoproxil and Dolutegravir and hepatitis C therapeutic drugs including Boceprevir and Telaprevir”, according to Li’s study. This suggestion is in line with reports by some Chinese doctors who self-administered HIV drugs after testing positive for the new coronavirus.
The Chinese doctors who conducted autopsies of patients who died from Coronavirus have stated that that current virus strand is like a combination of SARS and AIDS leaving irreparable damage to lungs of patients and in many cases causing lung fibrosis, weakened heart muscles leading to sudden collapse(s) and breathing difficulties in case the patient survives. Reinfection of COVID 19 is even more dangerous and in many cases, virus has incubation period of 10-14 days making its discovery in human body even harder after multiple tests. Recently it was reported that China has been using Anti HIV drugs to treat Coronavirus patients while UAE has successfully treated two patients with anti-HIV drugs and a combination of flu medicines. CIPLA, one of the leading pharmaceutical giants is stated to be in process of developing a repurpose HIV Drug for Coronavirus. These facts clearly show that COVID-19 in its genealogy is different from SARS and has traces of genomes that makes this virus act like HIV by aggressively attacking human cells while binding to it a more faster & lethal rate compared to other Coronaviruses. Indian Pharmaceutical companies are also getting enquiries from across the world on the supply of anti-HIV drugs to treat coronavirus covid-2019.
Global Economic Impact
As COVID-19 now threatens to engulf the world as a pandemic. it is wreaking havoc on the global economy with IMF lowering growth estimates for China and the world as mass quarantines, lockdown disrupt the supply chains. For weeks post Chinese New Year factories across China remained closed with companies like Apple, Tesla, Burberry all being forced to shut down in face of a rising epidemic of COVID-19.
Now with the Virus spreading across the world from Italy to France to Iran to USA to Brazil to UK to Middle East to Japan, South Korea; people are being asked to work from home, schools and universities are being closed. The aviation sector, hospitality and tourism sector are the biggest hit from this global pandemic. The aviation industry has been the hardest hit with whopping losses of 113 billion dollars with major airlines across the world being forced to shut profitable roots to Asia-Pacific in face of growing rise of Coronavirus. Lufthansa has grounded 150 jets in aftermath of COVID 19 infections rising exponentially in France, Italy, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Scandinavia. UK’s FLYBE airline shut down as the demand collapsed leading to its bankruptcy. Even the Asian airlines like Air India, Emirates, Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific have halved their operations on growing spread of COVID-19.
Rising spread of COVID-19 has badly impacted tourism and hospitality industry with mega events like Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2020 in Barcelona getting cancelled, Chinese Grand Prix and host of Olympic qualifying events also getting cancelled directly impacting the tourist inflow in the affected countries. Hilton has closed about 150 hotels totalling 33,000 rooms in China, anticipating a “$25 million to $50 million impact to full-year 2020. Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, closed 1,000 hotels in China; Approximately 70 percent of Wyndham’s Chinese hotels remain closed. At the same time, openings scheduled for the first quarter will likely be postponed, causing flat to negative room growth for Q1 2020.
A Strait Times reporter recently tweeted that US health care system will be overwhelmed as COVID-19 testing fastens amid new cases reported every day in various states across United States of America. She elaborated how USA could face shortage of beds, medicines, masks, protective gear for doctors and health workers and hand sanitizers as America approaches its flu season. It is also to be noted that UK’s NHS and Italy’s health care system is very poorly equipped to handle a pandemic of this nature. Even in India, Central and State governments have setup dedicated isolation wards, quarantine centres, mass production of protective gear and stocking drugs for the treatment of COVID-19 in case it explodes on an epidemic level.
Coronavirus spread across the world has made insurance companies scurry for more cover as people run for insuring themselves of treatment. While NHS and American Social Security are ensuring free testing, bills for hospitalization and other associated treatment as the risks of COVID-19 like pandemic aren’t covered in full in the insurance cover. Many insurance companies across the world and in India are coming up with specific insurance plans to cover the risks for diseases like COVID-19 which requires extensive treatment and hospitalization as well. Coronavirus has also badly impacted manufacturing and industrial hubs across the world to disruption of supply chains and shortage of raw materials, semiconductors, chips in many cases. As per UNCTAD, the slowdown in China due to COVID19 outbreak s disrupting the world trade and could result in 50 billion dollar decrease in exports across the global value chains with most impacted being European Union, USA and Japan while industrial and technological hubs like Taiwan, South Korea are also facing the brunt of it.
GDP growth in the first quarter of 2020 has slowed to 1.3% year on year, the weakest on record and with no signs of recovery on the horizon imminently, these numbers could further reduce. The annual impact of COVID-19 at the very minimum could be $2.7 trillion annually, which is the equivalent of UK’s GDP. We don’t expect any recovery from China for a minimum of 2 quarters after which a slow reversal could begin. Normalcy for China despite everything it says is at least a year away which could prove fatal as it is sufficient time for countries to readjust their supply chains having seen first-hand the disadvantage of putting all their eggs in one basket so to speak.
Finance and Energy Sectors have taken a big hit due to COVID-19 outbreak. Markets across the world have been bleeding ever since Coronavirus spread across the world with major hubs like Hong Kong, Singapore and Dubai under lockdown and restrictions to contain the spread of the virus. The bleeding markets and disruptions of supply chains from China and East Asia have prompted the Federal Reserve in US to go for an emergency rate cut of 50 bps as QE to boost the liquidity in the market in bid to comfort the impact of COVID-19. President Trump is while pushing for more cuts to boost the economy as he heads up into an election year. Other central banks of the world are likely to follow suit to support the economies with more quantitative easing and liquidity just like they did after 2008 crisis. US Senate has already passed a law of $8.3 Billion emergency funding bill to fight off the impact of COVID-19 Coronavirus crisis.
Oil hits rock bottom
In the energy sector, OPEC+ group lead by Saudi Arabia called for cutting Oil supplies as demand across the board had significantly dropped given China is the biggest Oil purchaser in the world and disrupting supply lines, aviation industries, lockdowns post COVID-19 spread have led to significant decrease in demand. However, Russia spurned the Saudi effort at March 2020 meeting and Saudis in a bid to hurt Russia and maintain its monopoly have doubled the production limit leading to sudden crash in Brent Crude and WTI Crude prices from $55 to $35 the biggest fall in crude prices since 1991. This collapse in crude prices due to collapse in Demand is a huge tectonic shift from days of Oil embargo, creation of OPEC & GCC in 1970s when suppliers of Oil held the leverage over Oil price which has over the time been diluted with discoveries of Shale Gas reserves in US. The fall in Oil Prices will lower inflation levels across countries giving more leverage to central banks to push liquidity to boost the global economy affected by COVID-19 pandemic but on the other hand it will also be detrimental for hedge fund managers and speculators, investment bankers who have booked futures on Oil contracts leading to more losses.
Thus Oil price crash would end up stimulating and insulating US economy from shocks of COVID-19 and supply chain disruption much to the comfort of President Trump who faces the electorate in fall this year and a strong economy with tax cuts is his biggest USP. Oil price crash is a blessing in disguise for Indian economy too staring at stagflation as lower inflation could mean more rate cuts, more revenue from petroleum products leading to more public spending thus prepping up the economy. It would be thus fair to say Coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak is a Black Swan event for Global Economy which could lead to more diversification of global supply chains instead of being over dependent on China.
It could lead to more investments globally in Health Care and Pharmaceutical sector, reducing dependence on API’s from China which it uses to blackmail other countries including the United States. It must be stated that COVID-19 has dented China’s image as reliable power and its impeccable image of a power on the rise leading global order lies tattered and ruined. COVID-19 outbreak rather provides a perfect foil for other powers in the region like Japan, India, Australia, South Korea to step up the mantle and show the world an alternate path of holistic growth and sustainable development. Finally, it is time that the world must also hold CCP & President Xi accountable for unleashing this Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic on the world.
With the rise of nationalist governments globally seeking better terms for themselves, the days of manufacturing solely in China seem to be over. President Trump’s MAGA strategy was completely in sync with the above and would have meant a gradual shift as the world would slowly move towards “The New Global Order”. However, Covid-19 is a black swan as it has disrupted all the best laid plans, fortunes, geopolitical equations. Oil supply and demand equilibrium leading to a complete shuffling in the way the world will do things in the future. In the previous industrial revolution, Oil was the black gold and the holders of the reserves and technology had the monopoly on holding the world hostage. We are witnessing an unprecedented shift of Oil from a supply-based price to a demand-based price at a time when the world is moving towards the Fourth Industrial Revolution where data will replace Oil and the era of EV looms close. Countries that felt they had enough time for their modernization and back up plans could find themselves getting irrelevant sooner than they would have liked. China will take very long to recover from this shock.
Of course, lots of other countries will gain. In every crisis, there looms opportunity. A black swan event comes along once in a lifetime and the country that makes the most of it, can enjoy disproportionate advantages. India, with a vast demographic dividend, a huge oil import bill, and skilled labour is extremely well placed to pick up the mantle.
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- Clinical features of patients infected with 2019 novel coronavirus in Wuhan, China https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(20)30183-5/fulltext
- Coronavirus has ‘mutated’ into TWO strains – with the most aggressive infecting 70% of patients, scientists claim https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/11096171/coronavirus-mutated-two-strains-aggressive/
- Chinese researcher escorted from infectious disease lab amid RCMP investigation https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/chinese-researcher-escorted-from-infectious-disease-lab-amid-rcmp-investigation-1.5211567
- Canadian government scientist under investigation trained staff at Level 4 lab in China https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/national-microbiology-lab-scientist-investigation-china-1.5307424
- Harvard University Professor and Two Chinese Nationals Charged in Three Separate China Related Cases https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/harvard-university-professor-and-two-chinese-nationals-charged-three-separate-china-related
- Securing the U.S. Research Enterprise from China’s Talent Recruitment Plans https://www.fbi.gov/news/testimony/securing-the-us-research-enterprise-from-chinas-talent-recruitment-plans-111919
- China’s Talent Recruitment Plans – Senate Homeland Security https://www.hsgac.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/2019-11-18 PSI Staff Report – China’s Talent Recruitment Plans Updated2.pdf
- Uncanny similarity of unique inserts in the 2019-nCoV spike protein to HIV-1 gp120 and Gag https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.01.30.927871v1?fbclid=IwAR3NHbWa28Q6FHey_Ss-giuWL7WWcjl8hoOX22wOfcbQR1sKtr1Qkld2KZE
- Wuhan 2019 Coronavirus S protein may have Furin protease cleavage sites http://chinaxiv.org/abs/202002.00004
- Furin, a potential therapeutic target for COVID-19 http://chinaxiv.org/abs/202002.00062
- Chinese doctors say coronavirus ‘like a combination of SARS and AIDS’, can cause irreversible lung damage https://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/health/health-problems/chinese-doctors-say-coronavirus-like-a-combination-of-sars-and-aids-can-cause-irreversible-lung-damage/news-story/f58f19c5eeae99b845c54e2d2b9305ca?fbclid=IwAR0osn447yCBmHxOFOZdoI4uHYb-fP7JcOZfylt5KnVWHR7jUA_oPh7ZIYk
- Exclusive: Chinese doctors say Wuhan coronavirus reinfection even deadlier https://www.taiwannews.com.tw/en/news/3876197?fbclid=IwAR326_UhwoJUGVshTALrNDvdkLaRrFW_wqNFXETCNszp8bXpJG6OajwfqhU
- China trials anti-HIV drug on coronavirus patients https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/feb/07/china-trials-anti-hiv-drug-coronavirus-patients
- UAE announces recovery of two new coronavirus patients https://gulfnews.com/uae/health/uae-announces-recovery-of-two-new-coronavirus-patients-1.1581704777547
- Cipla ready with repurposed HIV drug to combat coronavirus https://www.businesstoday.in/sectors/pharma/cipla-ready-with-repurposed-hiv-drug-to-combat-coronavirus/story/394845.html
- Indian drug companies get enquries on supplies of anti-HIV drugs for Coronavirus treatment https://www.moneycontrol.com/news/business/companies/indian-drug-companies-get-enquries-on-supplies-of-anti-hiv-drugs-for-coronavirus-treatment-4932931.html?fbclid=IwAR3Ixy0pEqMWPN7Hl217xme2gOjJwUDJuNAZ1dVfxXbbFBr7q3OFiGcH8_U
- ‘This is a crisis.’ Airlines face $113 billion hit from the coronavirus https://edition.cnn.com/2020/03/05/business/airlines-coronavirus-iata-travel/index.html
- The Impact of Coronavirus on Hospitality Industry (Hotels, Airline and Travel) https://www.hospitalitynet.org/opinion/4097187.html
- All Hospital Beds In The US Will Be Filled With Patients ‘By About May 8th’ Due To Coronavirus: Analysis https://www.zerohedge.com/health/all-hospital-beds-us-will-be-filled-coronavirus-patients-about-may-8th-according-analysis
- Leap in coronavirus cases tests limits of Italy’s health system https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/03/coronavirus-wreaks-havoc-italy-tests-limits-health-system-200307112350888.html
- Delhi: 230 Beds At 19 Government And Six Private Hospitals Earmarked For Coronavirus https://medicaldialogues.in/state-news/delhi/delhi-230-beds-at-19-government-and-six-private-hospitals-earmarked-for-coronavirus-63731
- Coronavirus COVID-19 wipes $50 billion off global exports in February alone, as IMF pledges support for vulnerable nations https://news.un.org/en/story/2020/03/1058601
- Coronavirus pandemic threatens to cut pharmaceutical industry’s lifeline https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/industry/healthcare/biotech/pharmaceuticals/coronavirus-pandemic-threatens-to-cut-pharmaceutical-industrys-lifeline/articleshow/73753415.cms?utm_source=contentofinterest&utm_medium=text&utm_campaign=cppst
- Righteous, the world should thank China http://www.xinhuanet.com/2020-03/04/c_1125660473.htm