One of Harvard University’s “visiting scientists,” Eric Feigl-Ding, started a riot on twitter Wednesday when he posted, “HOLY MOTHER OF GOD—the new coronavirus is a 3.8!!! How bad is that reproductive R0 value? It is thermonuclear pandemic level bad.” The Department of Homeland Security is part of a new 12-agency panel the President ordered to look into it.
What that number means, is that every person infected will spread the disease to 4 more. Ding had never personally encountered such a high “virality coefficient” in his work. “I’m not exaggerating,” he said, warning we’re “faced with the most virulent virus epidemic the world has ever seen.” He may have exaggerated a little bit, he conceded later, and removed the post. “I read that 3.8 value and I was like: ‘Oh my gosh!’ I tweeted it out.” Also, he might have backed down publicly because he has inside information that he can’t talk about.
He still stands by his assessment though. The latest numbers show the virality dropped to 2.5 which, as Ding points out, is after historic levels of prevention methods have been called into play. “It has dropped because of public health measures,” he explains.
3) New data shows that the R0 for #coronavirus was much higher in early January during early outbreak – up to R0=4! See graph from @LSHTM study. It has since dropped because of public health measures. Details here: https://t.co/I3XYdsiyIV pic.twitter.com/Y2bknNrZfZ
— Eric Feigl-Ding (@DrEricDing) January 29, 2020
Other numbers indicate that Ding really isn’t far off the mark with his dire prediction. China reported “its biggest single-day jump in novel coronavirus deaths” on Thursday, “as global fears deepened with more infections confirmed overseas.” The World Health Organization initially downplayed the severity of the disease. Now that there are 170 deaths in China alone, they plan a meeting Thursday “on whether to declare the epidemic a global emergency.” 38 new deaths were reported in 24 hours, the highest one-day total since the virus was detected late last year.
While his tweet may have been a little inaccurate, his characterization of the virus as “thermonuclear pandemic level bad” is right on target. The Chinese may have used stolen American biochemical technology to build the biological version of a neutron bomb. Designed not to kill off a population but to cripple it temporarily. Everything indicates it was designed to spread like wildfire and cause panic and economic chaos in it’s wake, exactly as it has been doing.
Eric Ding was born in Shanghai, China. As a respected epidemiologist, you know he’s paying close attention to the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic. Also a member of the Harvard faculty, you can bet his ears pricked up when he heard that his distinguished colleague, Dr. Charles Lieber, had been arrested on charges which indicate Bio-weapons espionage.
News reports continue to surface directly tying Lieber’s work at Harvard to Chinese bio-weapons labs in Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak. You can bet Ding has been reading those news reports closely. Ding and Charles Lieber don’t run in the same circles but may have overlapping connections with the Chan School of Public Health, which studies epidemics, among other things.
True to Ding’s prediction, the numbers of cases are exploding astronomically as the death toll continues to rise. The level of global response has been historic in proportion. Nation after nation are evacuating their citizens and several Chinese cities are in total lockdown. There are already reports of “tens of millions of people’ in quarantine. The massive efforts to contain the virus are causing economic chaos and disruption around the globe. There’s nothing at all normal about this one.
President Donald Trump’s administration announced on Thursday that a presidential task force has been created “to lead the administration’s response to the virus, including monitoring and containing the spread of the disease.” The 12-member panel of top officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Homeland Security, the Transportation Department and the Department of State, will be lead by Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar. They have been “meeting daily this week and will also make sure Americans have the latest health and travel information.”
“The risk of infection for Americans remains low, and all agencies are working aggressively to monitor this continuously evolving situation and to keep the public informed,” they promise.