[Update at end] If we were to read the news regarding China these days – and how can we not – one might be forgiven for thinking that a grave, deadly pandemic was in danger of sweeping across that nation, and putting the rest of the world at peril as a result (written 28 Jan 20). The rumor mill in social media has been alive and thriving in that regard. What are we talking about here? – the novel coronavirus, a.k.a. 2019-nCoV. There are rumors of a bio-weapon, Big Pharma trying to make a quick buck, the Chinese government on the verge of collapse, those lying Chinese covering up the true number of cases, the barbaric practices of the Chinese regarding animals (yes, that’s a trending tweet), and so on. A recent exchange on social media about this disease has prompted this article, especially any possible connection with Chinese New Year. For more info, read on. But first, a short video:
No disrespect intended, except to fear-mongering media. The current coronavirus outbreak is a SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) type of virus, which starts as a flu-like disease and progresses to pneumonia in severe cases. It adversely affects primarily the most vulnerable, as in small children, the elderly and those people previously weakened by other conditions, although children weather the virus pretty well. The first outbreak of SARS was in the Guangdong province of southern China, bordering Hong Kong, on 16 Nov 2002.
That initial outbreak was not reported to the WHO (not the band) until 10 Feb 2003 by Chinese authorities, almost two months later, which drew widespread criticism for the delay. This time it was quite different, with the disease being reported on 31 Dec 2019 as cases of pneumonia in Wuhan city, but which were quickly seen to be caused by a new, unknown virus. A week later the Chinese had identified the virus, now known as novel coronavirus. The Chinese have been working closely with the WHO (not the band) to check the containment of the disease and to give advice the public on precautionary measures. It is a respiratory, airborne virus, and the preventive measures are basic common sense in that regard.
This latest outbreak is thought to be inter-species in origin. The likely culprit is an open-air market in Wuhan, where live animals are sold:
In 2006, Zhong Nanshan, the doctor who identified Sars and who is leading the Chinese government’s efforts in Wuhan, said it was crucial to clean up China’s wildlife markets, which were “poorly managed and insanitary” and “a dangerous source of possible new infections”.
But reports from Wuhan suggest inter-species transmission is also at the centre of the new outbreak. A market in Wuhan, which was shuttered the day after the first cases were confirmed, is thought to have sold animals including rats, live wolf pups and civets, the last of which have been linked with previous pandemics in the past.
Typically, traditional use in local delicacies or medicines has hindered efforts to clean-up the animal trade. But with a market again identified as a source of an outbreak, even official media are mobilising appeals against the wildlife trade in response. Propaganda posts telling people #SupportBanningWildAnimalMarkets have been widely shared on Chinese social media.
If this outbreak leads to curbing the trade in live animals, then it will have had at least one positive effect. From the same article, the original SARS outbreak led to greater transparency in reporting such outbreaks, a rise in health spending, and that:
“China… has developed excellent disease surveillance systems since Sars, including real-time emergency department surveillance for severe acute respiratory infections, so this will help with rapid identification of new cases,” Raina MacIntyre, head of the biosecurity research programme at Sydney’s Kirby Institute, told Reuters.
To their credit, the Chinese have been on top of this outbreak, quarantining affected areas and screening everyone on mass transit systems. They have been reporting the number of cases rather diligently, according to the WHO (No, not the band!).
Yet, in the mainstream media this outbreak has been hyped as if it is a major epidemic, with charges that the numbers of the affected and the dead are being underreported by Chinese authorities as in scaring the public. Apparently, in an interview on the BBC I saw today on the TV, a vaccine has already been developed for this virus in the UK. A further report in one sentence says there is no vaccine for the virus, and in another says that testing of the vaccine would begin in a few months. So, at the moment, there is no cure for the coronavirus. As of this writing 80+ people have died from the disease in China with the number of confirmed cases in China now at over 2700. There are further cases being reported in 37 other countries. Compared to the flu and the number of people it kills every year, this disease so far is small potatoes. More on that directly. But if so, why the fear and panic? Let’s gain a little perspective to see why this is not such a huge deal, and that it is being handled correctly by the Chinese, but not by the media. Here are a few numbers:
An average of up to 50,000 people a day die of infectious diseases alone, on any given day. That is just from infectious diseases:
Nearly 50,000 men, women and children are dying every day from infectious diseases; many of these diseases could be prevented or cured for as little as a single dollar per head, the World Health Organization says in The World Health Report 1996, published today.
At least 30 new diseases have emerged in the last 20 years and now together threaten the health of hundreds of millions of people. For many of these diseases, there is no treatment, cure or vaccine.
“We are standing on the brink of a global crisis in infectious diseases. No country is safe from them. No country can any longer afford to ignore their threat,” the Director-General of WHO, Dr Hiroshi Nakajima, says in the report.
The report warns that some major diseases, such as cholera, malaria and tuberculosis are making a deadly comeback in many parts of the world, despite being preventable or treatable. At the same time, many new and highly infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS and the notorious Ebola haemorrhagic fever – both of which are incurable – are emerging to pose additional threats. Fears are growing over a possible food-chain link between bovine spongiform encephalopathy (“mad cow disease”) and a variant of the incurable Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, due to an infectious agent that attacks the human brain.
And so forth. Emphases added. That’s a pretty big number. Why are those not being reported? Why no panic over 50,000 deaths a day from other infectious diseases? Here are a few more numbers:
In a report from China this time last year, there were 2804 deaths from infectious diseases in December 2018. It was a very similar number in November and October of that year. And noticeable is the fact that the numbers climb as the months head into winter. From the same report, there were 712,581 cases of reported infectious diseases that month, of varying classifications:
- Class A: none reported, which includes cholera and the plague (the really deadly, highly infectious ones).
- Class B: 289,613 infections reported, which includes viral hepatitis, tuberculosis, syphilis, scarlet fever and gonorrhoea, which accounted for 93% of these cases. There were 2788 deaths from such diseases, accounted for the greatest number of deaths.
- Class C: the remainder of reported cases, which includes foot and mouth disease, influenza and infectious diarrhea, again accounting for 93% of those cases.
2804: That may seem to be quite a few deaths, and in one month. But, then we look at another context. China’s population stands now at over 1.4 billion people. That’s a staggering number, and in a nation the approximate size of either Australia or the US – a great number of people living in close quarters. Infectious disease spreads quickest in close quarters, being most pronounced in the winter months, when people tend to be housebound. Mass transit also spreads disease, for the same reason (close quarters). Lastly, then, let’s look at a few numbers from the United States:
There were 6515 deaths from the flu in the US last year. Compare that with 49,157 deaths from pneumonia, 5698 from AIDS/HIV, and the list goes on. So far there have been 80+ deaths from this virus so far, in the space of about a month. What’s wrong with this picture? Why is the mainstream media trying to scare us all silly? Before we go on, should we be concerned? Yes, to an extent. Should we be scared? No, not at all. Should we take precautions? If we go to China, absolutely. It pays to be sensible. The best defense against this disease is to be of sound health, so that even if we do happen to contract it – which is hardly likely thus far – we will survive it. There is a point to all this discussion, and then we will get to the astrology.
As a further context for this outbreak, it is not all that infectious, but again, due diligence is required. The Ro number (infectiousness, as in the number of people a single person generally infects) of the virus is around 2.5 – concerning, but not enough to call for panic:
Scientists at the respected MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis in the UK have warned that it may not be possible to contain the virus to China. They say self-sustaining human-to-human transmission of the coronavirus is the “only plausible explanation” for the scale of the epidemic. Their calculations estimate each infected person is passing it onto, on average, 2.5 other people. The centre praised the efforts of the Chinese authorities, but said transmission of the virus needed to be cut by 60% in order to get on top of the outbreak.
In past letters there was a forecast that the rhetoric and smearing against China was going to be ramped up. This was after the 2019 Bilderberg meeting. And the fact that this has occurred during the New Year celebrations does not reflect well. That is the biggest holiday in China. The stock markets worldwide are down on the news. A lot of tourism is being lost from this. Much of the Western press takes its lead or is directly controlled by the US. The three major international news feeds are directly out of the US. And it is no secret about the current sentiment in Washington towards Beijing.
It is said that Xi stated that the disease presents a “grave situation”. Why, if those numbers of deaths from the coronavirus are so small compared to deaths from other infectious diseases? We can think of a few reasons off the top: genuine concern for the health of his people (that would be true, given his past), pride as to past Chinese achievements in eliminating deaths from infectious diseases (also true, given China’s past), the virus was at first an unknown quantity and there is no vaccine for it, loss of investment in China from the fear campaign generated in the Western media, the terrible press the outbreak is getting from the Western press, etc., or even all of the above. It’s that last point about the Western press that is probably more to the point. From a previous article:
“President Xi Jinping pays a lot more attention to the international image of China than his predecessors, and he has concentrated much more power than his predecessors…Therefore anything that could potentially have a negative impact on the international image of China becomes sensitive.”
If the situation is ‘grave’, then just how bad is this disease? A couple of charts tell the story:
And this one, at the bottom, and note the mortality figure:
Hmmm…not that infectious and not very fatal. Yeah, it’s pretty bad!! (not) If we really want to get to why there is all this hype, then a quick look at China’s chart will explain this a bit. The chart with transits and directions is below (bigger):
To begin, this outbreak took place under a midpoint transit, Uranus=Mars/Neptune, showing the sudden onset of an infection or the onset of a new infection, the Mars/Neptune being the ‘infection axis’. In this case it was both. Uranus, in turn, was squaring the Chinese Moon at the time, the latter ruling the 6th house (health), meaning as well that the whole midpoint structure was activating China’s Moon. The infection started in a market (Uranus in the 3rd house – commerce). It both affected the nation’s standing (MC) and the health (6th house) of the masses (IC and Moon).
That, in turn, is coupled with a direction of Saturn to China’s MC (the sitting government), which by reflex also affects the people, land and infrastructure (4th house). The CCP immediately undertook the building of two new hospitals in Wuhan to handle the outbreak, due to be completed in a matter of weeks. How many nations would do that and that quickly?
The direction of Saturn to the MC shows the blow to the nation’s perception in the world, the laborious nature of the outbreak and the decisions being undertaken to handle the crisis. Saturn becomes onerous when people do not take responsibility for their actions. According to medical authorities, China is acting responsibly. The direction will be exact in mid-March, at which time a direction of Uranus will come within orb of the Chinese Ascendant, showing a shift in public perceptions and maybe also new legislation coming as a result of the outbreak, as the directed Uranus is in the 7th house.
Then, in September, a direction of Venus will begin its approach to China’s Ascendant, thereby forming a midpoint: “The demonstration of love in the presence of other people. – A sudden meeting or contact, a hasty engagement.” In all, that is a pretty nice setup, showing that China will weather this and be recognized for its efforts, in all likelihood.
The outbreak took place under the activation of eclipses to China’s Jupiter by the transits of Saturn and Pluto to China’s Jupiter. This was a big event, and it points to illness. At the same time, it also points to self-sacrifice in the service to others. It took place in the 12th house (institutions, as in hospitals, and also a service house), but they are now rapidly passing out. Something was bound to have taken place in China as a result of that transit and those eclipses. Now we know what.
Jupiter rules China’s 11th house, which in general shows beneficent associations with others (friend, hopes and wishes) and the will of the people. The timing of this event shows the damper it has put on New Year celebrations in China. But it also shows the government rallying to set up the hospitals and its containment of the virus. The natal placement of Jupiter in China’s 12th house shows unexpected help and/or help coming from behind the scenes. In the West the hospitals being built so quickly is being painted as China ‘panicking’. That is a questionable narrative. And, it is in distinction to the actions of another sector of Chinese society.
Protesters in Hong Kong just firebombed a hospital that was set up to quarantine people infected by the virus and demanded the border between Hong Kong and China be closed. Hong Kong is a part of China, and such acts are, shall we say, less than helpful. On another side of that, a simple virus has decided the direction of the protests there, at least for the moment. It’s the war of the worlds. It is doubtful there will be large-scale protests while this virus is a threat. And it will give the Hong Kong government cause to enforce prohibition on large gatherings while the disease is in process.
Lastly, regarding the astrology, Saturn will transit across the PRC Ascendant starting in April, to go back and forth across it until the end of the year, at which point it will be joined by Jupiter on the PRC Ascendant, activating the aforementioned directed midpoint Ven/Ura=Asc. Now, that will be something to watch, because it looks as though a spiritual germ will take sprout then. Saturn across the PRC Ascendant has generally been fortunate for China. In 1991, the last time, they resolved their border disputes with Russia, and in 1962 they won the Sino-Indian war. And this time? It will coincide with the US election. They will likely have a win in the trade war with Trump. And through all this, there is their ever-closer cooperation with Russia.
Returning to the media coverage, then, is there any more to the media coverage of this event? Given our corporate-run media, there is in fact yet another reason for the media hype around this virus; A few people ‘in the know’ are going to make a pile of money off of it. And we are not talking about Big Pharma here.
Vaccines are not typically big-margin products. Instead, we are talking about tourism and hotels stocks, as this virus will probably drag on into the spring holiday season in China. Stocks across the board dropped sharply on the news of this outbreak. The old saying about the stock market holds – buy in bust, sell in boom. What we might be seeing here is an opportunistic incidence of disaster capitalism, from a cynical, materialistic outlook. Aside from that, bad news is good for business for the corporate media.
In closing, now that the hype around our newest known virus has died down a bit, what about all those social media posts at the beginning of the outbreak – you know, the ones with all the dire warnings? Here are a few:
- A rollout of a bioweapon or an accidental release of one?: If so, a pretty poor one. Such weaponized viruses are meant to wipe out large numbers of people and be very contagious. This one is a nothing-burger in that regard. But be afraid. Be very afraid! Actually, don’t be. (See also here.)
- This is a step in the collapse of the communist government: Let’s be honest – there is a lot of wishful thinking in such speculation. People have been talking about the collapse of the ‘communist regime’ (such descriptors are an automatic indicator of what is to follow in any article, as in ‘bad China’, ‘totalitarian state’, ‘repressive regime’, ‘dictatorship’, etc.) for a long time. Changes are coming for China, but looking for regime change? Don’t bet on it.
- There is a huge cover-up taking place. The CCP is lying to everyone about the extent of this disease: Maybe. Then again, maybe they aren’t. And then again, our own governments never lie, do they? Be suspicious about large, inflated numbers. The truth will emerge eventually. (see also here). Our economy in the US is great, by the way, never better. There were no casualties in the Iranian attack on al-Assad Air Base, etc. Everything is fine. Right.
- The media coverage of the virus is a distraction from other issues, like Trump’s impeachment, for instance: Again, maybe, maybe not. That impeachment theatre is starting to get more interesting, though, with the Big ‘Stache coming forward with his two cents.
- The CCP has instituted a ‘crackdown’ to contain the disease: That’s an interesting way to describe a quarantine, which is actually the recommended way of containing any virus.
The point of all this discussion is not about China, but about spin. It is also about our conditioned reactions to events and to nations. One can either see all the above as a pro-China piece or one can instead dig deeper behind the alarming headlines and the echo-chamber, meme-confirming stories we read about this new virus. In six months – prediction – this story will be dead and buried. Life will go on, and the real stats will emerge from investigations into the outbreak. And we may just find, like it or not, that China’s handling of this episode will raise the esteem of the government (or regime, if you prefer) in the eyes of the world. Time will tell. From where I sit, there is no need to panic. Take care of your health, but otherwise, enjoy the New Year, if you are able – if you dare.
Update: 25 Mar 2020
Since this original post back when the epidemic first started, the reason for alarm on the part of Xi has been noted: The virus tends to overload the health services with extreme cases needing intubation, tying up ICU wards. Since then much of the world is instituting quarantine measures to ‘flatten the curve’ and prevent the overloading of their systems. Italy was the first Western nation to do so. And, the measures have been effective. Still, there is no need to panic. It is a serious matter, but not in terms of the numbers of infections and deaths, though the deaths and the manner of dying are concerning enough. The takeaway is to remain calm, abide by the measures outlined by local and national governments and look forward toward corrective measures within a manner of months, if not weeks.
Featured pic from Doonited