Persistence Is Victory.
Nothing is well-behaved.
A couple of things: (1) The weekend edition of News Items will be distributed on Sunday, along with a Political Note (if I ever finish it). (2) Yesterday’s edition was plagued by Substack platform issues (the links weren’t working, among other things). The company says it is “addressing” these issues. Please let me know if you have trouble with today’s edition.
1. Over two years after the coronavirus was first detected in China, and after at least 6.3 million deaths have been counted worldwide from the pandemic, the World Health Organization is recommending in its strongest terms yet that a deeper probe is required into whether a lab accident may be to blame. That stance marks a sharp reversal of the U.N. health agency’s initial assessment of the pandemic’s origins, and comes after many critics accused WHO of being too quick to dismiss or underplay a lab-leak theory that put Chinese officials on the defensive. In a report released Thursday, WHO’s expert group said “key pieces of data” to explain how the pandemic began were still missing. The scientists said the group would “remain open to any and all scientific evidence that becomes available in the future to allow for comprehensive testing of all reasonable hypotheses.” (Source: apnews.com)
“I think the lab origin is more likely than not. Right now it’s not safe for people who know about the origin of the pandemic to come forward. But we live in an era where there is so much information being stored that it will eventually come out.
“We have heard from many top virologists that a genetically engineered origin is reasonable and that includes virologists who made modifications to the first Sars virus.
“We know this virus has a unique feature, called the furin cleavage site, and without this feature there is no way this would be causing this pandemic.
“A proposal was leaked showing that EcoHealth and the Wuhan Institute of Virology were developing a pipeline for inserting novel furin cleavage sites. So, you find these scientists who said in early 2018 ‘I’m going to put horns on horses’ and at the end of 2019 a unicorn turns up in Wuhan city.” (Sources: telegraph.co.uk, technologyreview.com, broadinstitute.org.)
3. Xi Jinping has reiterated China’s commitment to zero-Covid, declaring “persistence is victory”, as Shanghai and Beijing were hit with new lockdowns, shutdowns, and mass testing drives just a week after the cities celebrated the easing of restrictions. In response to China’s worst outbreak of the pandemic, Shanghai spent months under an arduous and strict citywide lockdown, while Beijing authorities imposed localized lockdowns, venue and public transport shutdowns, and work-from-home orders. In the last week both had begun easing restrictions, with authorities praising the containment of the community outbreaks of the Omicron variant. But on Thursday both cities went back on high alert for Covid cases, with new lockdowns in Shanghai districts home to millions of people, and the shutdown of entertainment venues in Beijing’s populous Chaoyang district. The return to restrictions sparked alarm and frustration among residents. (Source: theguardian.com)
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