PRELUDE: Dr. Boutros Boutros al-Benghazi, Former Global Health Organization (GHO) Official
Excerpt from "COVIDsteria: An Oral History of America's Great Reset" - see https://covidsteria.substack.com/p/covidsteria-table-of-contents
Dr. al-Benghazi had recently retired at age 50 after a distinguished decades-long career with the now much downsized and thoroughly discredited Global Health Organization (GHO). He works as a private consultant and contractor for the few remaining GHO funded projects. I caught up with him at a Middle East restaurant in Miami where he was in town for a few days before flying down to Haiti for a new GHO funded public health initiative...
A few days after the New Year, I awoke to an urgent-sounding 1 AM call from GHO headquarters. The caller told me to have a suitcase with enough clothes for a multi-week mission. I had to be at the private aircraft section of the Geneva airport within two hours.
Nothing further was told to me on the phone. That was not unusual for these sorts of GHO missions. But when I arrived at the private aircraft lounge, I was surprised to see so many senior and not so senior GHO people already there and still coming - including all of our top virologists. So I knew our mission was something big. But nobody else seemed to know anything about our mission, or at least nobody acted like they knew anything.
It was still dark when the plane finally arrived a few hours late. I could see it was not one of the usual GHO aircraft as those are all marked “Global Health Organization (GHO)” in big red letters. I am not an expert on aircraft models, but someone remarked that it was a type of Chinese-made plane used to transport their most senior VIPs.
When we boarded the aircraft, the entire crew was Chinese. That was how we knew our mission was in China and why there must be something serious going on there again.
Whenever the cabin crew, all attractive young ladies, was out of earshot, we would quietly speculate among ourselves what it could be this time that required the Chinese to fetch so many GHO people on such short notice and in such secrecy. Some speculated about an outbreak of SARS or the swine flu. Others thought it might be another lab mishap causing yet another deadly pathogen to escape…
Yes. The last time we were summoned to China in such a manner on short notice with this level of secrecy was to help them contain, of all things, a smallpox outbreak after a lab mishap in Beijing.
Chan, the lab intern, had accidentally knocked over and broke a vile of smallpox when he was reaching into a lab freezer to retrieve the Panda Bar he had put in there. He then tried to cover this up by sweeping all the contents into his tea mug and throwing them into the trash at the lab’s canteen. And since he already had a bad case of acne, it took a while for anyone at the lab to notice there might be something wrong with him.
Of course, he had seriously infected himself... And the tea lady... And the janitor... And a local sanitation worker… And whoever had picked through the lab’s garbage looking for recyclables… And it was only a matter of time before all of them started to infect their families, close friends, and neighbors with smallpox. Even worst, local social media and maybe even western intelligence or their media could get wind of it. It was about to turn into a real epidemic. [He shakes his head.]
To make matters worst, the Chinese had no smallpox vaccines lying around. Since we had eradicated smallpox from the environment over 40 years ago, no one was making the vaccine anymore. All emergency supplies, including ours, were well beyond the expiration date. And since no one was officially supposed to have vials of smallpox lying around, except for a couple of labs certified as biosafety level 4 labs by the GHO, the Chinese needed to pay for our help in a hurry.
We also needed to figure out how to tweak the old smallpox vaccine formula to cover this particular strain. The Chinese had been monkeying, I mean, "studying" the disease, and our old vaccine formulas had stopped being effective on it.
I will never fully understand why the Chinese allowed an intern to keep his ice cream bars in the same freezer where they kept vials of smallpox - one of the most infectious diseases in the world. And they were not even supposed to be "studying" it!
You better believe that after we helped the Chinese to contain their mess, we raised our lab crisis management fees! We also gave them a verbal shellacking and told them never to do this again, or we would report them to the UN and The Hague! [He rolls his eyes.]
Anyway, our plane landed somewhere we did not immediately recognize in the thick smog until we taxied past a sign written in both Chinese characters and English that said, “Welcome to Bianfucheng [Bat City], China.” I remember hearing one of the virologists at that moment groan and say, “The Chinese here love eating bat soup! They also have an important research lab. The lab studies bats in the hopes of improving their taste in the local soups. It better not be something serious involving any damn bats from that lab!”
After the plane entered a large hanger, we were all taken in unmarked vans with tinted windows to an unmarked building. We then clicked our heels in a conference room as we waited for our mission briefing.
But as usual, the Chinese were late. We waited nearly an hour until a small delegation of Chinese officials entered the room and sat down at a table with the podium to wait for the more senior official.
Then finally, a short pudgy Chinese official entered the room with slick black hair and the usual completely expressionless Chinese face. I knew he was a very senior provincial or perhaps a senior national official of some kind. With Chinese Communists, you can always tell by looking at how fat they are and how high off the ground their platform shoes reach to know their rank.
This senior official went straight to the podium without acknowledging the presence of anyone else in the room. He immediately started speaking to us in that typically direct but very course sort of English that these types of officials always tended to speak in:
“Thank you for coming and welcome to Bianfucheng - China’s bat city and home of famous Chinese bat soup. We have small problem in Bianfucheng. Someone take bats out of bat cave to sell at Bianfucheng wet market for famous bat soup. Now some Bianfucheng people at wet market and those who ate our famous bat soup get very sick with strange pneumonia...”
I remember hearing a groan or two amongst my GHO colleagues. One of the senior GHO officials interrupted to ask in what I thought was a bit too sarcastic tone for such a high-ranking Chinese official, “Was yet another lab selling old research animals to a wet market again?”
Upon hearing that remark, some of the senior GHO officials began to chuckle. However, the face of that senior Chinese official turned blood red with anger. He clenched his fist and hit the top of the podium, and told us:
“Our labs no sell lab animals to wet markets! That against Chinese law! We never do that! Someone bring bats from bat cave and sell at wet market! Some people buy these bats for bat soup and get very sick! Don’t ask again about our lab! Now my local people will deal with you!”
He was already halfway out of the room before the other Chinese officials could even get to their feet to stand at attention… [He rolls his eyes again.]
Fortunately for us and myself, there was an attractive young lady among the Chinese delegation. She went to the podium and introduced herself as Dr. Biānfú Nǚ, a well-known scientific expert on Chinese bats and bat viruses. She also just happened to do most of her bat research on improving the taste of bats at the local bat research lab.
Now I know how you often cannot tell the age of an Asian woman, and she also looked rather young to be such a noted expert in the field of batology. But let me tell you something… [He casts a wide glance around us, leans closer to me, and says in a low voice...] She had the nicest rack and ass I have ever seen on a Chinese woman! And trust me - I have seen many ok Chinese racks and asses before, but none like hers! I mean, it was the kind of rack and ass that you would expect to see on the beaches of Beirut or Tunisia – not in some provincial bat city in the middle of China! [He winks and grins widely.]
In all seriousness, and given the grave mission at hand, she did know everything there was to know about bats. She knew how to purée bats. She knew how to stir fry bats in a wok. She knew how to deep fry bats. She knew how to sauté bats. She knew how to bake bats. She knew how to roast bats. And more importantly for us, she knew everything there was to know about all the many many many bat viruses that bat chefs needed to be careful of catching!
I ended up working closely with her for months. I could tell right away she had not been touched by anything other than a bat in years! She lived for and could only talk about bats, how to cook bats to make them tastier, and anything you wanted to know about bat viruses! You would probably have to either be batman himself or an actual bat to have any chance of getting inside her bat cave! Trust me - I tried to get in the whole time I was there! [He throws his hands up and gives an exasperated laugh.]
The only thing she would not talk about was her lab. Nor would she give any concrete details of what went on there beyond experiments to make bats tastier!
And if I asked her, she would either change the subject or give you that typical expressionless Chinese smile they always do when they are embarrassed or do not want to answer you...
Do you believe the COVIDsteria virus may have come from the lab and somehow involved her research work? Or did it come from a bat sold at a wet market like what the official had said?
Put it this way... [He smiles wryly.]
In Libya, the Berber tribes around my birthplace of Benghazi have an old saying. The saying roughly translates into English as "What difference does it make?"
Now let me put some context into this saying: What difference does it make if a known or unknown group of people with many weapons are attacking you and your people, you and your people have no way to defend yourselves, everyone ignores your calls for help, and no one comes to your aid in time? You and your people die.
So what difference does it make if a known or unknown but contagious and deadly virus had come from a wild bat living in a bat cave, a bat sold in a wet market, or a bat in a research lab? And this virus is now spreading throughout your community, and no one comes to your aid in time?
Likewise, what difference does it make if a bat living in a bat cave and infected with some unknown but highly contagious and deadly virus was brought to a lab to be studied? Then the bat got sold to a trader in a wet market who sold it to a customer for their dinner – making everyone in your community who handled or ate it sick? [He winks at me and gives another wry smile.]
Besides, the Chinese were not paying the GHO to investigate the virus origins, pass judgment on what they ate, or how they operated their wet markets or their bat research labs. The Chinese were paying us to aid with activities like the genetic mapping of an unknown but contagious and deadly virus so that no more people would get sick and die.
Was this cooperation and work between the GHO and the Chinese successful?
I would say it was successful as everyone got what they wanted out of it. The GHO received a genetic map for and samples of the virus to provide to other governments and pharmaceutical companies. Everyone quickly went to work developing and manufacturing tests, vaccines, and drug treatments.
With our paid-for assistance, the Chinese themselves were able to quickly produce the first small batches of a rudimentary inactivated virus or flu shot-like vaccine within months. The shot offered some measure of extra immunity or protection to prevent most hospitalizations and unnecessary deaths. This vaccine would help buy everyone time to figure out the best treatment approaches for those who still got seriously sick.
But again, this initial vaccine was based on traditional inactivated virus technology using African green monkeys, the same methods used for polio or hepatitis vaccines. The vaccine could not be immediately manufactured in large quantities, not even by the Chinese to inoculate all one billion+ of them or the whole world for that matter. Only the most vulnerable and frontline medical professionals could be vaccinated until production ramped up. But that might take years.
So as part of the deal for helping them, the Chinese provided the GHO with their initial vaccine to inoculate all GHO employees and their families. They also told us what they felt were the best prophylactics and treatment approaches using currently available drugs.
Did you take this initial Chinese vaccine based upon inactivated virus technology? Or did you take the later nDNA vaccines?
After a few months on mission in Bianfucheng, it became clear to everyone that the specific type of Coronavirus now known as COVIDsteria was more contagious than the average flu strain. This meant the elderly or those with serious health problems had a higher risk of hospitalization or death. COVIDsteria could also trigger complete mental breakdowns, psychosis, or severe cognitive dissonance for middle-aged and especially millennial sufferers not at risk of getting seriously sick with any respiratory symptoms.
However, COVIDsteria was easily treatable as there were many potentially effective treatments. Treatments ranged from anti-malarial drugs to various cocktails of generic drugs or vitamins like Vitamin D. All other COVIDsteria sufferers not experiencing respiratory symptoms could be treated with commonly used antidepressants, anti-anxiety, antipsychotic, mood-stabilizing, and stimulant medications.
I would not have bothered to take any vaccine. However, I also needed to travel regularly to China. The damn Chinese started requiring all foreigners not vaccinated with a Chinese-made COVIDsteria vaccine to undergo mandatory anal swabbing tests upon arrival at the airport. They even made us GHO people bend over as well! [He throws his hands up in a sign of frustration and frowns.]
You would think the Chinese could have made an anal swabbing exception for GHO staff as the Americans later did for us! After all, we were always quick to help the Chinese cover their asses with their constant lab accidents!
But no! The Chinese refused to bend their damn rules for us! They even enjoyed going harder and deeper with the swab on GHO staff than they did on the usual foreign business travelers! [He shakes his head and frowns again.]
So I took that first damn Chinese vaccine as soon as it became available to us. I also made sure all my wives and children got it to avoid invasive COVIDsteria tests that became the norm for travel.
Since this initial Chinese vaccine used inactivated virus technology, we at the GHO all viewed it as reasonably safe. Except for some mild vaccine side effects, there was nothing out of the ordinary with their original vaccine based on such familiar technology in use for many decades.
More importantly, taking that vaccine was much better than being subjected to constant anal swab tests! And since we took the traditional vaccine and not the later nDNA ones, all GHO employees, our families, and I are alive today… [He smiles.]
Furmanski, Martin (Apr 11, 2014 / January 25, 2015). “A Brief, Terrifying History of Viruses Escaping from Labs: 70s Chinese Pandemic was a Lab Mistake (The danger of a manmade pandemic sparked by a laboratory escape is not hypothetical).” National Post. (Archived 2021)
Furmanski, Martin (February 17, 2014). “Laboratory Escapes and “Self-Fulfilling Prophecy” Epidemics.” Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation. (Archived 14 Apr 2020)
Furmanski, Martin (March 31, 2014). “Threatened Pandemics and Laboratory Escapes: Self-Fulfilling Prophecies.” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. (Archived 5 Jan 2019)