Dear Money & Crisis Reader,
The trade war with China has taken a strange and dangerous turn.
Up until now, this battle has been relegated to the realm of purely economic warfare.
Trump slaps tariffs on boat motors and bulldozers.
China retaliates with tariffs on soybeans and SUVs.
That’s how a trade war works. At least it has… until now…
Disturbing news is emerging from the Centers for Disease Control (C.D.C.) regarding China’s deliberate mishandling of a deadly and infectious virus…
And the experts say they’re putting millions of lives at risk… on purpose.
Turning Blood to Poison
China discovered the first case of the H7N9 virus on Chinese poultry farms in early 2013.
Technically, it’s a new strain of influenza, more commonly known as the flu. But H7N9 is more closely related to the deadly bird flu of 2009 than the strain of flu we see every flu season.
At first, the virus only infected poultry — chicken, ducks and pigeons. But it wasn’t long before H7N9 evolved into something far more sinister.
Folks who worked with live poultry started to get sick. Fevers and coughing quickly progressed to severe pneumonia. Organs started to fail. And their own blood turned to poison in their veins.
The fatality rate was staggering: of the infected humans, 40% died.
Those of you on “pandemic watch” might note that this significant rate is somewhat lower than the historic 60% rate of the previous strain of bird flu.
But according to the World Health Organization (W.H.O.) assistant director-general for health, “This virus is more easily transmitted from poultry to humans than [the previous strain of bird flu],” making it extremely dangerous.
Influenza: The Changing Danger
And that’s the real danger of any flu virus that originates in animals.
It always starts as something harmless to humans.
But the flu virus grows and changes so fast, it’s only a matter of time before humans start to get sick… and from there the virus is only one small evolution away from triggering a globe-spanning pandemic.
Take H7N9 for example.
In the virus’s current form, humans can only be infected by direct content with sick poultry.
But infectious disease experts say that it’s only a matter of time before the virus is able to pass from human to human. And then all it takes is for one sick person to get on a plane and spread the virus all over the world.
You might be wondering what this has to do with Trump’s trade war.
Well, everything as it turns out.
The Biological Warfare of Inaction
China is sitting on this virus like it’s a golden egg.
You see, pandemic influenza spreads incredibly fast.
If H7N9 becomes infectious among humans, it will spread across the globe in a matter of days. And with a fatality rate of 40%, the death toll would be in the hundreds of millions.
The only defense against a pandemic is to develop a medicine and distribute it ahead of time. Which is why it’s so important that countries work together when a new strain of deadly influenza is discovered.
Normally a virus like this one is distributed to disease centers around the world so medicine can be prepared in advance.
But in direct violation of W.H.O. regulations, China is refusing point blank to release H7N9 to the C.D.C.
And this is a huge problem.
Right now, Americans have ZERO immunity to this disease. An outbreak on the mainland would tear through the population like a hot knife through butter.
As infectious diseases expert Michael Callahan told the New York Times this week, “Jeopardizing U.S. access to foreign pathogens and therapies to counter them undermines our nation’s ability to protect against infections which can spread globally within days.”
China is well aware of the threat H7N9 poses to the rest of the world.
What’s unclear is if they are holding onto the vaccine simply as a bargaining chip in an escalating trade war… or engaging in a deliberate act of biological warfare by inaction.
Only time will tell. But by then it may already be too late.
Whether or not the C.D.C. manages to get their hands on a sample of the virus before the outbreak, you can reduce the risk of getting infected by following these basic steps:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water.
- Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze.
- Avoid folks who are coughing, sneezing or appear ill.
- Stay home from work or school if you are sick with a fever or have other flu symptoms.
- Gather a two-weeks’ supply of food, water and medicine. Be prepared to stay in your home for the length of the outbreak.
All the best,
Editor, Money & Crisis