Tag Archives: Wuhan

The Original ‘Asymptomatic Spreader’ Was Not Asymptomatic: She Took Paracetamol

From The Daily Sceptic


As flagged by Will Jones here on the Daily Sceptic, a recent Lancet study shows that asymptomatic people are only responsible for a small fraction of SARS-CoV-2 viral emissions, thus exploding the myth of extensive asymptomatic transmission, which was one of the central tenets of the COVID-19 response. But what about the original ‘asymptomatic spreader’ whose case was widely reported in the medical literature and the international media? Well, it turns out she was precisely not asymptomatic. She was sick and took medication.

On January 30th 2020, the New England Journal of Medicine published a letter from a group of German doctors and scientists documenting the case of a Chinese businesswoman from Shanghai who had recently travelled to Germany, where she was at the origin of Germany’s first cluster of infections despite the fact that she had not yet developed symptoms herself. See the below screen shot from the NEJM homepage circa the following day (courtesy of the Wayback Machine).

The lead author of the letter was Camilla Rothe of the Munich University Hospital. One of the co-authors was none other than Christian Drosten, the Chair of the Department of Virology at the Charité teaching hospital in Berlin, whose famous PCR-protocol would become the ‘gold standard’ for COVID-19 testing. Drosten’s article laying out the PCR protocol was published just one week earlier, on January 23rd, by the EU-funded journal Eurosurveillance, following a peer-review in record-breaking time of roughly 24 hours.

But the problem with the German researchers’ letter is that just four days later, on February 3rd, Science published an article revealing, based on official German sources, that the Chinese businesswoman did in fact have symptoms and had taken paracetamol to combat them. In fact, none of the 17 authors of the NEJM letter had ever even spoken to the supposedly asymptomatic ‘patient zero’, merely relying on the input of the four Germans who fell ill (and, incidentally, very quickly got better).

“Afterwards, however,” the Science article notes, 

officials at the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), Germany’s federal public health agency, and the Health and Food Safety Authority of the state of Bavaria did talk to the Shanghai patient on the phone, and it turned out she did have symptoms while in Germany. According to people familiar with the call, she felt tired, suffered from muscle pain, and took paracetamol, a fever-lowering medication. (An RKI spokesperson would only confirm to Science that the woman had symptoms.)

As will be seen momentarily, the authors have in the meanwhile themselves confirmed that the woman took paracetamol.

Contacted by Science, Christian Drosten, who reportedly himself conducted the PCR-testing for the German group, was contrite. “I feel bad about how this went, but I don’t think anybody is at fault here,” he said, “Apparently the woman could not be reached at first and people felt this had to be communicated quickly.”

The Swedish Public Health Agency, as cited by Science, was less charitable in its assessment, describing the NEJM letter as containing “major flaws and errors”.

Nonetheless, despite the criticism and the apparent contrition of Drosten and one other author who was also contacted, the NEJM letter has not been retracted. It remains on the NEJM website here with the original full title: ‘Transmission of 2019-nCoV Infection from an Asymptomatic Contact in Germany.’ As of this writing, according to the NEJM’s own count, it has been cited in the scholarly literature no less than 2527 times.

The article is not even accompanied by a correction. In the aftermath of the Science revelations, the authors merely added a supplementary appendix comprising a “timeline” of the evolution of the woman’s illness. Apparently, in the meanwhile, they had resolved to speak with the woman themselves. The “timeline” concedes that she had experienced symptoms in Germany and that she had taken paracetamol, but insists that she only reported doing so once and somehow prophylactically. 

The German public health authority, the Robert Koch Institute, apparently being caught off-guard by the Science revelations, displayed similarly erratic behaviour in response. Whereas a spokesperson initially told Science that the RKI itself had sent a letter to the NEJM informing the journal of the authors’ error, a different spokesperson, as noted in a July update to the article, subsequently retracted this claim, saying that the letter “had never been sent” and that there had been “an internal misunderstanding”.

Even if the asymptomatic ‘patient zero’ turned out in fact to be symptomatic, the German Government, at any rate, has not wavered in its support for Rothe and her colleagues. Thus, on September 30th 2022, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier awarded the German Order of Merit to none other than Claudia Rothe precisely for her NEJM article.

Claudia Rothe being awarded the Order of Merit by German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier (source: LMUKlinikum)

The tribute read out at the ceremony explained:

On January 27th 2020, the doctor [Rothe] diagnosed the first Corona infection in Germany. In doing so, she realised that the source of the infection was a person who at that time did not have any symptoms. She promptly published this discovery… The publication triggered a worldwide scientific dispute, at the end of which her findings were confirmed. Her early warning and her courage to stand by her finding made an important contribution to containing the Corona pandemic in the first phase. (author’s translation)

The identity of the Chinese ‘patient zero’ and of her German colleagues is also of some interest. They were in fact all employees of the German auto parts manufacturer Webasto. Although the Chinese employee was reported to be from Shanghai, Webasto had just recently, on September 7th 2019, opened a production facility in Wuhan.

As discussed in my earlier article, none other than then German Chancellor Angela Merkel was visiting Wuhan on that very day. In Wuhan, she stopped by the Tongji-Medical-College-affiliated Tongji Hospital: Tongji Medical College is the Chinese co-sponsor of a joint German-Chinese virology lab located in the city.

Chancellor Merkel was also on hand for the ceremonial opening of Webasto’s new facility, as documented in the below photo.

(Source: Webasto)

Robert Kogon is the pen name of a widely-published journalist covering European affairs. Subscribe to his Substack and follow him on X.

Pentagon Debunked Fauci’s Anti-Lab-Leak ‘Proximal Origin’ Paper in May 2020, Leaked Document Reveals

From The Daily Sceptic


Researchers at the U.S. Department of Defence wrote a devastating takedown of the Proximal Origin study, which was used by Dr. Anthony Fauci as proof that the COVID-19 virus had come from nature. The Epoch Times has the story.

The takedown, dated May 26th 2020, was written in the form of a working paper called ‘Critical analysis of Andersen et al. The proximal origin of SARS-CoV-2‘. It was authored by Commander Jean-Paul Chretien, a Navy doctor working at the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency, and Dr. Robert Cutlip, a research scientist at the Defence Intelligence Agency. The paper came to light on May 15th 2023, when it was leaked to the public via virus origins search group DRASTIC (Decentralised Radical Autonomous Search Team Investigating COVID-19). 

The working paper forensically dismantles the natural origin case made in Proximal Origin and concludes, “The arguments that Andersen et al. use to support a natural-origin scenario for SARS-CoV-2 are based not on scientific analysis, but on unwarranted assumptions.”

The existence of this internal Pentagon paper is crucial, as it proves that Government officials were well aware in the early months of the pandemic that there was no evidence in support of a natural origin of the COVID-19 virus. Additionally, given the crushing discrediting of Proximal Origin, Pentagon officials would also have been aware of Fauci’s efforts to seed a false narrative about the origin of COVID-19. 

Proximal Origin was initially conceived by Fauci during a secret teleconference held on February 1st 2020. The ostensible purpose of the teleconference was to deflect attention from a possible lab origin of COVID-19 and to shift the focus to a natural origin theory. Fauci directed a number of scientists, led by Kristian Andersen of Scripps Research and Robert Garry of Tulane Medical School, to pen a study that could be used to discredit the lab leak theory. Despite being directly involved in the inception of the paper, as well as in shaping its arguments, Fauci’s role was concealed from the public. Fauci later bestowed Andersen and Garry with lavish taxpayer-funded grants.

The defects in Proximal Origin were immediately noticed by reviewers at science journal Nature. This fact only became known late last year from emails obtained via the Freedom of Information Act by independent journalist Jimmy Tobias. However, with the help of Jeremy Farrar, who now is the Chief Scientist of the World Health Organisation and who had helped Fauci shape the natural origin narrative, Proximal Origin was accepted for publication in Nature Medicine on March 17th 2020. It boldly concluded that no “laboratory-based scenario is plausible”.

On April 17th 2020, President Donald Trump confirmed that the COVID-19 pandemic likely started in a Wuhan laboratory in China. On the same day, while attending a White House press conference, Fauci categorically dismissed the possibility of a lab origin of COVID-19, citing Proximal Origin as corroboration. Fauci feigned independence, telling reporters that he could not recall the names of the authors. What was not known at the time was that Fauci not only knew the authors well, but had personally led the effort to have Proximal Origin written.

Proximal Origin became the media’s go-to natural origin authority, repeating Fauci’s claim that the paper provided dispositive proof that COVID-19 had come out of nature. It also became the most-read article on COVID-19 and one of the most cited academic papers of all time.

Yet, while the public was being told by Fauci and the media that Proximal Origin had settled the origin debate, Pentagon researchers came to a very different conclusion. 

Worth reading in full.

China “Began Developing Two Covid Vaccines” Before Outbreak

From The Daily Sceptic


Chinese researchers may have begun developing two Covid vaccines in November 2019, before the official start of the outbreak, a U.S. Senate report has claimed. The Telegraph has more.

The claims come in a 300-page document, which concluded that the pandemic most likely came from a lab leak and was the result of a “research-related incident” in Wuhan.

It said the theory that COVID-19 jumped from animals to humans in a market no longer deserved the “presumption of accuracy”.

The report argued that Chinese researchers appeared to begin development of at least two Covid vaccines at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) in November 2019, meaning “SARS-CoV-2 would have been present at the WIV before the known outbreak of the pandemic”.

The claims give further credence to the lab leak theory and support accusations that China covered up early cases of the outbreak.

The 300-page report, released to Axios, was the full version of a 35-page summary published in October by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

It said: “The COVID-19 pandemic was, more likely than not, the result of a research-related incident.

“New information, made publicly available and independently verifiable, could change this assessment.

“However, the hypothesis of a natural zoonotic origin no longer deserves the benefit of the doubt, or the presumption of accuracy.”

The report suggested that advocates of the natural transmission theory “must provide clear and convincing evidence” for their argument.

It concluded: “The preponderance of information affirms the plausibility of a research-related incident that was likely unintentional resulting from failures of biosafety containment during vaccine-related research.”

Scientists, and U.S. intelligence, have been divided over whether the pandemic originated at the Wuhan Institute of Virology [WIV], which had been collecting and manipulating bat viruses, or from a natural spillover at a Wuhan market selling live animals.

The report said there were “anomalies” between Covid-19 and other diseases that have spilled over naturally from animals to humans.

And it said, three years on, no critical evidence had been found proving there was a natural spillover.

It added that there had not been spillovers of the virus in numerous places at numerous times, as might be expected if that was the cause.

The report also noted that the type of bats carrying the closest virus to COVID-19 lived over 1,000 miles away from Wuhan. 

However, the lab had collected over 200 coronaviruses, and employees had been photographed handling bats with inadequate protective gear, the report said.

Scientists there had been involved in research aimed at preventing future pandemics, and had sought funding to engineer coronaviruses, it said.

The report said: “A research-related incident is consistent with the early epidemiology [of Covid-19] showing rapid spread of the virus in Wuhan, with the earliest calls for assistance being located near the WIV’s original campus in central Wuhan.”

Worth reading in full.

Personally I remain sceptical of this report. The lead author is Dr. Robert Kadlec, a long-time U.S. biodefence bigwig and architect of the vaccines and biodefence ‘Manhattan Project’ as described in detail by Paula Jardine here. Dr. Kadlec’s involvement taints the report as being very much the angle that those in the U.S. biodefence establishment want you to read, meaning it’s all about what was (allegedly) happening in China and nothing about what was happening in the U.S., whose scientists have also been the opposite of cooperative with origins investigations.

The virus was almost certainly created in a lab, but the evidence that that lab was the Wuhan Institute of Virology and that it was released by accident is much weaker and some of the evidence summarised in the new report is internally inconsistent (for example, it can’t decide whether the Covid outbreak was producing a large spike in influenza-like hospital cases in early October or not until several weeks later). I have explored these issues at length (see here), but the fact remains that U.S. intelligence has failed to produce clear documentary evidence that SARS-CoV-2 or a precursor was at the WIV before December 2019 or that specific vaccines were being developed before the outbreak was officially known. In addition, the documentary evidence we do have suggests that the first samples from Wuhan hospitals were only sent to labs for testing and identification in the last week of December and that when the virus was first detected the Chinese authorities remained unsure whether it was spreading between humans. Their actions at the time were consistent with that uncertainty as countermeasures were not adopted until late January, after a team of Government experts had visited Wuhan and concluded it was spreading.

The WIV published in mid-January 2020 the sequence of the new virus alongside that of RaTG13, which it already held, and admitted that it did not appear that the new virus had emerged naturally from RaTG13. These are not the actions of an institution trying to cover up the fact that it created SARS-CoV-2 from RaTG13 or a similar virus. The Senate report repeats the claim that the WIV virus database was “public” before it was taken offline in September 2019, but if it was public why does U.S. intelligence not have a copy of something so obviously relevant to national security? It’s not clear that the database was ever public, and it also went back online (behind a security wall) intermittently after that date. I have no interest in defending China, I only want to know the truth. I’m just not convinced that Robert Kadlec is the man to give it to me.

Here is the summary table from the report.