China and COVID-19: What Went Wrong?

The history of armed conflict is intertwined with the generation of diseases. In 1155, the German Holy Roman Emperor Barbarossa poisoned water wells in Italy with human bodies as he challenged the papacy; to 1763, when the British deliberately distributed small pox-infected blankets to Native Americans. In recent history, during World War I, the Spanish flu caused a pandemic accounting for over 50 million lives. Now imagine a weaponised variant of the pathogen—genetically engineered for survival and binary in nature, with artificial intelligence implants to disable or enable the virus—and you have a controllable doomsday weapon. Manipulated pathogens are in fact the next generation of damnable biologic agents. While theories about COVID-19 being a bio-weapon have been debunked, they occur within a larger narrative, which is that of China allegedly being a leader in “toxin-based threats.” Opaqueness in Chinese information-sharing, therefore, appears to have little dividend.