Coronavirus 2019-nCoV versus the Bacterium Yersinia Pestis

The Wuhan Coronavirus has been dominating the news for the last week or so. Seneca III sends this comparison between the new pandemic and the Black Death, which ravaged Europe in the Middle Ages.

Coronavirus 2019-nCoV versus the Bacterium Yersinia Pestis

by Seneca III

It is alleged that the original genome of this particular Coronavirus was stolen by a Chinese researcher at a biolab in Canada that was working to find a cure for the four other variants of this strain, the last one being SARS. She has since been dismissed and deported. SARS, first reported in China in 2002, spread to 27 countries, infecting around 8,000 people and killing 700.

Wuhan is the centre of Chinese biowarfare research. Latest reports show that the Corona 2019-nCoV did not originate in the fish market but migrated there from prior cases and has nothing to do with bat soup. Could we be facing an escaped bioengineered pathogen causing a global pandemic on a scale proportional fatality-wise to the Black Death?

And, in view if the continuing spread of this plague, it is worth asking why, during the course of the Black Death pandemic in the 14th century, did three places escape its worst depredations?

Without any doubt whatsoever Poland was far less afflicted than the rest of Europe. Whilst Poland’s relative isolation was a contributing factor, King Casimir, by closing the Polish borders and putting the country into quarantine both externally and then again internally, created a second line of defence, thus severely limiting the incursions of this virulent pathogen.

”During Kazimierz’s reign, the Black Death, a pandemic infection, swept across Europe, killing millions. But Poland established quarantines at its borders, and the plague skirted Poland almost entirely.”

— Zuchora-Walske, Christine, Poland, North Mankato: ABDO Publishing, 2013.

Also, in Poland, outside of the cities, centres of population were sparsely scattered and rural. The inhabitants were prone to a wariness of ‘strangers’ who might be disease vectors, and the fact that it took a long time for travelers to reach these semi-isolated communities often exceeded the short incubation period of the disease in humans.

(And thus, why the long incubation period of Corona 2019-nCoV is of concern to us today; the next ten to twenty days will tell us if the progress of the contagion has become or could become exponential.)

Milan and Venice also sustained low mortality rates (said to be 15% or less) relative to the rest of Europe by employing similar practices to those in Poland. Both the Milanese and the Venetians, because of their extensive trade links and greater proximity to the Asian epicentre, had advance warning of the plague. In Milan in particular, infected households were isolated and rigorously quarantined, and, as Milan was a walled city, the burghers simply locked the gates and used armed force to deny entry to the city. Food and trade goods were brought to the gates, left outside for the Milanese to collect without contact with the traders, and then they in turn left payment for the traders to collect once the townsfolk had retreated back inside.

It is thought that Venice originated the concept of forbidding the entry of or contact with outsiders. Using an offshore island as a waiting area, they prevented all shipping from physically entering Venice for forty days (‘quaranta giomi’ — thus the origin of the term ‘quarantine’). It appears that this practice was very effective, and resulted in a similar survival advantage to that in Milan.

It may be that very soon each and every individual community is going to have to look after its own contagion security at a local level, because central government will, in the event of a mass infection, only be able to do so much. Under those circumstances strict internal and external isolation practices, together with barrier-moderated external contact, would be the key to survival. May God help us all if it comes to that.

Seneca III — in a generally unaware Middle England this 29th day of January in the year of our Lord 2020.

For links to previous essays by Seneca III, see the Seneca III Archives.

15 thoughts on “Coronavirus 2019-nCoV versus the Bacterium Yersinia Pestis

  1. Anyone who has been in the military or has worked with explosives can tell you what will happen to the handlers if they are careless in their handling of the explosives. Weaponized germs are no different, only more deadly. I read about the work that was being done in Canada and how the modified corona virus was handed off to two Chinese agents. It would seem that they were able to return to their lab in Wuhan and in their optimistic glee became sloppy in their handling of the viral culture. Now the genie is out of the bottle. I am grateful for the Lord’s mercy that their sloppiness prevented the weaponization of the corona virus and that we can enjoy a brief respite.
    Stay tuned however, according to the book of Revelation there’s more to come. This episode might very well be our ‘two minute warning’ as it were. (the two minute warning prior to the end of the first or second half of the football game).

    • I was living in Surrey, UK in 2007 when there was an outbreak of Foot and Mouth disease in local cattle. The source: the local research lab.
      “The source of the strain released and contained in Surrey in 2007 was the advanced effluent pipes from either the Institute for Animal Health or the similar vaccine researching and producing Merial Animal Health laboratory near to Pirbright village in the county – the pipes were too old and/or insufficiently inspected given their importance. An inspection of the effluent pipes and manholes carried out for the HSE investigators showed deficiencies and the independent investigation of Professor Brian Spratt concluded that it was very likely that they occasionally leaked still-infectious effluent at the time of the outbreak.”
      From Wikipedia

      I suspect something similar happened here. This virus has a completely novel section for entry of the virus into cells via the Angiotensin2 enzyme receptor. A lot of drug research, especially in the treatment of hypertension, has been done on this. Was research being done so that select groups could be protected in a n outbreak? Is this an accident or an experiment which has misfired?

  2. The Black Death itself emerged from the Far East. It’s kill rate across Europe was about 50%. Squalid, megalomaniac China owes humanity, big time.

  3. As far as I know, EVERY major epidemic of the past thousand years has come out of China. All the really nasty flu strains, the really aggressive staph strains, and of course the bubonic plague. SARS was nasty, but not really on the same scale as those others. Call me racist, but I’d rather avoid Chinese people like… well, the plague. They’re nasty people.

    • nmsl, you better go home and check :)))

      [Note from the Baron:

      Urban Dictionary: NMSL

      This is a chinese slang, which is the initials for “Ni Ma Si Le” which means your mom’s dead. Often used in curses for online/real life arguments. ]

  4. China only concern today with killing 50 percent of the European population would be they would have less customers to sell their trade good to. The leadership of China today is morally bankrupt ,one child policy millions of force abortion on its own population , shooting “political prisoners” selling their organs for high prices overseas , invading plus building their own Island seas out post Islands. Polluting the air and water in China so cancer rates will soar over the next 20 years there. Do you really think China,s leadership gives a [rodent’s orifice] about dead non-Chinese ,they are more then willing to kill a lot of their own to stay in power.

  5. I highly recommend this 10 minute video by the brilliant Black Pigeon Speaks, AKA Felix Rex. He’s an American ex-pat living in Japan who has closely guarded his identity. I consider him to be a genius.

    He makes the point that modern global interconnectedness makes effective quarantine virtually impossible. Because the food and energy for modern cities arrive from 100s or even thousands of miles away, the greatest threat from a pandemic is that it will collapse the global economy.

    If out of fear of the disease people don’t go to work, (even humble truck drivers, nurses, police and power plant workers), the food won’t move and the lights will go out. Then the cities will implode. Many times more will die from the collapse of cities than from the pathogen.

    Please watch the video.

    “How a pandemic could END CIVILIZATION”
    January 26

    • People in Wuhan still have stashed supplies… when then?
      But so far the biggest blow to China is the shame of keeping this hidden (because totalitarians have serious issues with telling the truth) and with everybody mocking them for poor hygiene and gross eating habits. A public relations disaster.

  6. In the flu epidemic of 1920, the citizens of Gunnison, Colorado, met every train at the station with armed militia. Nobody was allowed off the train. There were no flu cases in Gunnison, as a result. That was in the days when reaching this mountain town by road was not extremely arduous.

  7. Both supposed pandemics , the Black Death and the Spanish flu, occured when Virology didn’t even exist they are cited as classic examples of what a virus can do. It should make any sane person ask the obvious question. How on earth did they come to the conclusion the two events had anything to do with a virus? Once you understand the answer to that question the ‘outbreak’ in Wuhan makes much more sense. Here’s a clue. Wuhan is one of the most polluted areas on the planet where thousands if not hundreds of thousands of people have been killed or incapacited over the last decade with systems identical to those of the ‘virus’.

  8. Thank you for this article. And other information by commenters.

    My spouse has a weak immune system from medication for a horrible autoimmune disease.
    So we are very worried.

  9. Hmmmm.As urban legend claim ,Poles are historically and in present time most stupid people on the Earth and in History of mankind…makes me wondering who and why are speeding this news all over USA and Europe ?..Is there any purpose for this ?
    After all according to author Poles make most rational decisions regarding pandemic outbreaks..

    • The Poles and the Hungarians make the most rational decisions on immigration too. May they benefit from their acumen.

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