Shocking news just in from India is enough to make one’s blood run cold. A professor of Molecular Biology in New Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University, Anand Ranganathan, and his colleagues published a preprint (which has not been peer-reviewed as yet) about their research on the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) from China. They discovered a possible link between it and other similar known coronaviruses circulating in animals (such as bats and snakes), and found HIV virus-like insertions in 2019-nCoV. No other well-studied coronaviruses have such a structure. Hence, their research hints at the possibility that the virus was designed and could be used to wage biological warfare. China’s National Health Commission has reported 31,161 confirmed cases of coronavirus. And on 7 February, there were 31,452 individuals infected with 2019-nCoV worldwide, and 638 had succumbed to the disease.
In light of these recent developments, it seems apt to remind our readers that a fierce, take-no-prisoners type of trade war is currently ongoing between the United States and China. And in the midst of this confrontation, as if by a wave of a magic wand, a coronavirus outbreak started in the PRC, which has already caused enormous damage to the Chinese economy and has considerably weakened Beijing’s bargaining position at the negotiating table.
Bloomberg reported that Chinese stocks plummeted when markets reopened and called these developments “the worst rout since 2015.” For ten days China’s and Hong Kong’s financial markets had been closed on account of the Lunar New Year holiday celebrations nation-wide. And the more than 8% fall in key stock indices has been linked to the coronavirus outbreak. Share prices of telecommunication, technology and extractive companies are decreasing the most. Crude oil, iron ore and ferrous metal futures fell by 7%, 6.5 % and 6 % respectively. Copper, and crude and palm oil also sank by the maximum daily limit allowed on the Chinese markets. Fang Rui, the Managing Director at Shanghai WuSheng Investment Management Partnership, said: “A lot of people in the market have not been through situations like today, and you can’t blame people for wanting cash when they feel like their health is at risk.”
Even before the coronavirus outbreak, many experts reported that, recently, Washington, in contravention of international law, was actively developing biological weapons in its numerous laboratories located in the United States as well as abroad.