Why is China a Hotbed for Diseases Like Coronavirus?


4 years ago



Michael Osterholm

2 appearances

Dr. Michael Osterholm is an expert in infectious disease epidemiology, professor, and director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy. He's also the host of "The Osterholm Update: COVID-19" podcast, and author of multiple books, including "Deadliest Enemy: Our War Against Killer Germs."


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Why China? Because they have this incredibly large population, two billion, they've got this food supply that is largely wildlife that comes into these markets where there's this incredible contact between people and these animals. And the crowded nature of that society, I mean, I think one of the things that surprises people when they go to China, 15 million population cities are common over there. I mean, we think of the United States, we think of LA and New York, and that's big, okay? Over there, I mean, in Wuhan, a city of 15 million, the entire metropolitan area is 60 million. And so you have people crowded so closely together that if you add in the bugs coming from these animals and then the potential for this kind of contact where it spreads quickly, China has been a, you know, a bacterial and viral soup vessel for a long time. That's again why we have to protect ourselves here because a bug anywhere in the world today can be a bug everywhere, tomorrow. Right. And particularly when you're dealing with a massive number like these kind of cities. So these wet, they call them wet markets? Yep. Wet markets. Yep. So that's what it is. A lot of it is wildlife. Oh, it's incredible. You know, you know, I've hunted my life, you know, I've always, I love to fly fish. I love the outdoors, okay? I could never have imagined the animals, you know, I've spent time in these markets. I remember one day spending a day in the Bangkok, Tain, Thailand market, and it was about a mile by mile, half wild, big, I mean, in these tight aisles. Every animal imaginable to humans, and I swear to God, there were some out of the movies, I think, that were in there. And they're all just right on top of each other. And I actually have a picture that I show in some of my lectures, there was a situation where there's all these chickens in a cage, I don't know, 15 or 20 of them, okay, in a big wire cage. And it sat on top of a wire cage full of ferrets. And ferrets are actually an animal model from flu standpoint that they do really well in getting infected with flu viruses. If you wanted to create the perfect experiment that no university, you know, research group would let you do, is you'd put birds and ferrets like that together. And that's just common. That's just common. That's common. And so birds and ferrets together, sometimes infecting the birds could jump to the ferrets or vice versa. Ferrets could breathe it out and we could get infected. And so these markets, and I don't know what's going to happen here, but for the first time, we really saw the Chinese after this outbreak in Wuhan really start to put down some markers on what they're going to do to supervise these markets. I mean, they still have to eat. But I think this is a dangerous practice where we see it. But you know, it happens, look at Africa with Ebola, you know, bush meat is still very important. And there's so much of the world that that's their primary food supply. And when they say bush meat, it's basically everything. Everything from bats. We think bat was the primary source of this outbreak in West Africa was a human bat that was consumed. They eat them all the time. Do they really? Yeah, yeah. So, you know, and some of them are pretty big bats, you know, they're, they're literally three feet, wingspans are they're big. And so, you know, that's one of the challenges we have with with China, we know that this is going to happen, it's going to occur, we think of the flu virus is the same way. And that's why we knew doing better flu vaccines, you know, this could just as easily be a flu pandemic, the same thing like 1918. So these wet markets, they just have all these animals hanging out. And some of them are still alive. Is that what it is? Many of them are alive. And then they'll actually prepare them for you right there. They basically kill them and gut them and so forth. You got some pictures up there. Bizarre Wuhan West Market menu shows over 100 wild animals sold as food, link with virus unclear. Exactly. That's what it looks like in here. I'll show you the list. It's pretty amazing. Yeah. Let's see some images. Whoa, whoa, look at that rip. Look at that list. I know. Peacocks. Yeah. People are eating peacocks. Oh, yeah, absolutely. Deer, crocodiles, turkey, swans, eating swans. How dare you? Kangaroos, squirrels, snails, foxes, foxes. And civet cats were the cause of the sars outbreak. Yeah. Ostriches. I've had that. Pretty delicious. Yep. I'm a hypocrite. Look at me eating ostriches. Centipedes, geese, hedgehogs, goats. Jesus. So yeah, that's a chalepheasant, right? That's normal. So do we have a video of the market? I want to see what, whoa, look at that freaky looking salamander. Look at the size of that sucker. Big. Yep. That's a huge salamander. I want lights for you first. The pictures I was finding are dark. Yeah. Come on. What do you got? Cages of turtles and cages of bunnies. Let's see it. Wow. This wet market is very, very strange. So, and these are enormous markets. Oh, they're huge. They're huge. And the number of people in them is incredible. I mean, they're mini. Where are they getting the animals from? They're getting them from the wild. Rural area. From rural areas. Yeah. And are they growing these things and farming them or are they just catching them? Some cases both. Some cases both. Like a lot of the seafood today is actually being farmed. So this is really like a giant petri dish. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, it's almost, wow, you're looking, that fish looks not that fresh. Whoa, what's all that stuff? Rabbits and rabbits. I couldn't tell you where all the animals are. Yeah. Jesus. But you're getting an idea. Just laying them on the ground. Why, you know, if we can't stop that, we surely can try it. But if we can't stop it, we need to stop the infectious diseases coming from those animals to us. Look at them all wearing masks. That's hilarious. That was, I think, with the outbreak. Was that, that might have been since the... Are those gigantic things a mollusk? What is that? What are those things? Can't tell. Those look like giant mollusks. Looks like flat. Yeah, they are, right? Because look... No, because look at the ones behind them. Yeah, I think you're right. I think you're right. They look like huge muscles. Wow. Look at those suckers behind them. Wow. Yeah. There's a lot of people in China. They got to eat. That's where it gets weird, right? Yeah. It's like, how do you tell them that they've been doing this for who knows how long? How do you tell them to stop doing it? Or is that impossible? And is it more possible to just accelerate our vaccine program and try to preemptively create something to address coronaviruses, to address various, various different...