IT is nearly two years since the world turned upside down and a sequence of unprecedented lockdowns and quarantines in the name of public health and safety were imposed across the West.
The narrative of the still unfolding story of Covid-19 is familiar to all of us, with China the chief bogeyman of the tale. But is that right?
In this drama has something really important been overlooked? Namely, the role of a powerful, self-appointed supranational organisation, set up 2017, called the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).
Members of CEPI’s board and scientific advisory committee have been, and still are, key actors in global and national responses to the Covid-19 virus. Its mission? To ‘create a world in which epidemics are no longer a threat to humanity’.
At the start of 2020, all eyes were glued on China. The communist government had dutifully notified the World Health Organisation (WHO) on New Year’s Eve 2019 of its concerns over a small cluster of cases of ‘pneumonia of unknown origin’.
Three weeks later, when the death toll stood at 17, the CCP was sufficiently alarmed to order the home confinement of nearly 12million mostly healthy people who were unfortunate enough to reside in the outbreak city, Wuhan.
Having fingered as the culprit a relative of the SARS virus that claimed 774 victims in 2003, https://www.cdc.gov/sars/about/fs-sars.html the Chinese determination to contain the self-evidently nastier 2019 co-variant at all costs was made plain to the world.
The scenes broadcast out of China nightly on the TV news were surreal, but strangely familiar to anyone with a passing familiarity with vintage sci-fi. A nightmare amalgamation of The Andromeda Strain and The Hamburg Syndrome was unfolding in real life, right before our eyes.
Here, a man falling down dead in the street. There, men in white hazmat suits walking through empty Chinese thoroughfares equipped with Ghostbuster-esque backpacks blowing smoke in a desperate attempt to fumigate the invisible peril out of existence.
Knowing that the Queen’s own men at the Porton Down chemical and biological defence establishment long ago discovered that fresh air and sunlight, two commodities already in short supply in Chinese cities, are the most potent of disinfectants, it seemed a strangely futile spectacle. What on Earth were they trying to do? Death apparently lurked around every corner.
As the Wuhan lockdown was being imposed on January 23, 2020, the global elite were busy congregating at their annual networking fest, the World Economic Forum, in Davos, Switzerland (where CEPI had been founded three years earlier by the governments of Norway and India, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Wellcome Trust global charity organisation, and the World Economic Forum).
Next day, a little-noticed press conference was convened in Davos to discuss the SARS-like, closely-related, but definitely novel, SARS Wuhan coronavirus.
Appearing in front of about 30 reporters were Sir Jeremy Farrar, Director of the Wellcome Trust and board member of CEPI; Richard Hatchett, chief executive of CEPI, and Stephane Bancel, chief executive of Moderna, one of three companies being funded to develop a coronavirus vaccine. A Chinese reporter asked the panel if there was any historical precedent for the lockdown.
Hatchett said: ‘One thing that is important to understand, is that when you don’t have treatments and you don’t have vaccines, non-pharmaceutical interventions are literally the only thing that you have, and it’s a combination of isolation, containment, infection prevention and control and then these social distancing interventions.
‘There is historical precedent for their use. We looked intensively and did an historical analysis of the use of non-pharmaceutical interventions in US cities in 1918 and what we found was that cities that introduced multiple interventions, early in an epidemic, had much better outcomes.
‘The challenge of course is that it is very difficult to sustain these interventions, as they impose enormous cost and they also can produce enormous anxiety among the affected population.’
The ‘we’ Hatchett was referring to was the US Department of Homeland Security where, as an official, he had helped develop the US pandemic preparedness plan in 2005 and 2006 during the H5N1 avian influenza outbreak, which Farrar had discovered in Vietnam.
Hatchett continued: ‘At that time, we looked at how could you have those interventions implemented in a way that maximised their benefit and minimised the cost and we developed an approach that we called “community mitigation” interventions and CDC (the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention) published guidance on this several years ago.
‘There is a literature which I would certainly encourage Chinese authorities to review and certainly I would be happy to talk to them about that, although that’s not my current job.’
There was no need to encourage the Chinese authorities to review the literature. CEPI already had a man in Beijing, Dr George Gao, the director of China’s Centre for Disease Control, but also member of the CEPI scientific advisory panel. The community mitigation approach the Chinese adopted in Wuhan was straight out of the 2006 US Homeland Security pandemic playbook.
Gao, like Farrar, completed his PhD at Oxford University before conducting post-doctoral work under Sir John Bell, the controversial Regius Professor of Medicine at Oxford, holder of several extranumerary positions and multiple interests, not least as chair of the global health scientific advisory board of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
An expert on coronaviruses, Gao served on CEPI’s first scientific advisory committee in 2016 and was a player in Event 201, the pandemic simulation hosted in October 2019 by the World Economic Forum, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Health – discussed here by Robert F Kennedy Jr.
In all probability, Gao is the old friend Farrar was referring to when he said on Desert Island Discs that he had had a phone call on December 31, 2019 – the day the Chinese authorities reported the Wuhan pneumonia outbreak to the WHO – to alert him that China would release the genome of the new virus on January 10. As things stood on New Year’s Eve, the virus had yet to cause any deaths, although it was making a few people very ill.
By January 17, another CEPI scientific adviser, Dr Christian Drosten, had conveniently developed a PCR test from the genetic sequence posted online by the Chinese, which the WHO advised laboratories could be used as a diagnostic test for Covid-19.
This was almost two months before the WHO declared the novel coronavirus a pandemic on March 11, 2020. Following a visit to Wuhan by the WHO in February 2020, led by its assistant director-general Dr Bruce Aylward, the world was being encouraged to adopt what were now being called Chinese measures.
‘China didn’t approach this new virus with an old strategy for one disease or another disease,’ said Aylward. ‘It developed its own approach to a new disease and extraordinarily has turned around this disease with strategies most of the world didn’t think would work.’
The Chinese government, with its own Big Brother infrastructure, had its own reasons for going along with that. But the response plan is in reality far more complex, and has a much darker background in the West.
The Yellow Brick Road that passes through CEPI and Beijing leads right back to the US Department of Homeland Security, and its 1998 Pentagon strategy paper.
The response plan is in reality an American scheme, with its origins more than decade and a half earlier and against a backdrop of bioterrorism concerns. Uncle Sam is the wizard behind the curtain, not acting in the West’s interests at all.