Recently, I received an email from a New York Times reporter with the unusual name of Jennifer .8 Lee about my April 2 VDARE.COM article SARS: The Immigration Dimension. In that article, I dared to make this politically incorrect observation: "The brutal truth is that SARS is, currently, a predominantly Chinese disease…"
I was not terribly surprised that Ms. Lee wanted to ask only about my credentials and my alleged belief that SARS was an "Asian Disease." Subsequently, she published a superficial SARS article about anxious residents in Chinese communities on the West Coast.
Here's an example:
"Now only non-Asian customers are coming, Mr. Hong [owner of a Chinese restaurant] said, not the white-collar, immigrant Asian workers who used to fill the restaurant after work."
In U.S., Fear Is Spreading Faster Than SARS, By Dean E. Murphy The New York Times, Apr 17, 2003
This article was reported by Jennifer 8. Lee, Dean E. Murphy and Yilu Zhao and written by Mr. Murphy.
So judging by the behavior she describes—avoiding Chinese businesses, to the point of business dropping by 70-90% in North American Chinatowns - the Chinese certainly think it's a Chinese disease, if not an Asian one!
They may be right—but we'll never know based on the PC "reporting" of SARS in the major media and the racially null data put out by US and Canadian health authorities. We do get the odd name when the SARS victim is white (cf. current crime reporting) but not when the victims are non-white, in this case Asian.
Toronto officials and media especially, to no one's surprise, have been disgorging a steady effluvia of PC drivel in their silly attempt to maintain PC uber alles in their "highly diverse" metropolis.
The result of this censorship: everyone, especially the Chinese here in North America, assume that all risk of infection is from Chinese.
Again, we don't know if this is true. However, the health authorities most certainly know it and record it. The information is an essential variable of epidemiology—which is defined as "the study of populations in order to determine the frequency and distribution of disease and measure risks." Yet the best we get from the authorities is that SARS "is milder" here than in Hong Kong and China.
In fact, SARS does seem to be milder in the U.S.—as of now. But, since it's the same virus, mustn't the "mildness" be due to lower susceptibility among Americans? And if not, then why?
And what will happen next?
The history of our world significantly resulted from racial differences in immunity to disease. Examples: In 1500s Mexico and Peru, the decimation of the Aztecs and Incas by smallpox and measles infections carried by Spanish invaders. In 1800s Haiti, the virtual annihilation of Napoleon's invading army by Yellow Fever infection—which barely affected the defending African blacks. That led directly to the collapse of French colonial power in the Caribbean and America and the fire sale of the French-owned Louisiana territory to America, thus doubling the size of our county.
A more recent example: the recent spread of TB in the US by immigrants. Donald G. McNeil Jr. and Lawrence K. Altman noted this recently in the New York Times while describing the important concept of disease "super spreaders:"
"A famous tuberculosis 'super spreader', described in The New England Journal of Medicine in November 1999, was a nine-year-old boy in rural North Dakota, an immigrant from the Marshall Islands, who in 1997 and 1998 infected his family and 56 schoolmates. The boy had deep cavities in his lungs, while his twin brother, who was 5 cm taller and 5 kg heavier, had a mild case and was not infectious.
"Some populations are genetically more susceptible, so the first carrier to get it often becomes a 'super spreader'. For example, [Dr. James] Plorde [an infectious disease expert with the University of Washington] said, 'people of European descent handle TB much better than American Indians - presumably because their genetic stock survived more epidemics of TB.'" [italics added].
Also, chronic diseases differ in their incidence among groups for many reasons. These chronic diseases in turn can cause differences in resistance to new infections.
TB is very wide-spread in China. And Hepatitis B has been estimated as infecting up to 65% of the population of China. (In fact, the vast majority of Hepatitis B in the U.S. right now is due to Chinese immigration and lax border control.)
Could the existence of a chronic disease among Chinese explain their apparent higher rates of infection and death from SARS? Could some unknown lung tissue characteristic render them more susceptible to SARS, like the boy who brought TB from the Marshall Islands?
Or could the apparent relative immunity among Americans be due to prior exposure to some form of coronavirus, the suspected SARS virus?
Regardless of the reason, this should be a subject for open discussion - not only among for the scientific elite, but for the rest of us who are among the potential victims of a SARS epidemic.
SARS totals continue to rise in Toronto, Hong Kong, China and Singapore. Some experts feel containment in these hotspots may be impossible.
And now the good news (for us):
But this may just be luck—the "super-spreaders" from China just didn't happen to traveling here. It gives us no excuse whatsoever for allowing SARS to spread here. Some feel that a respiratory disease, ultimately, cannot be contained without a vaccine. The more time we have to develop one, the better.
Other points to note:
My conclusion: Unlike some people, I do not believe that the SARS threat is overblown. The fact that we are in the early stages of this epidemic is the only reason for hope—nobody can predict the outcome, but we can make some good guesses.
When the Spanish Flu of 1918-1919 started in April 1918, in Fort Riley, Kansas, among young army recruits, people thought it was just a bad flu. A bit later, it was a bad flu with pneumonia. But after it traveled with the troops across the seas, the virus found a huge new incubation source in the millions of soldiers over there. Then it mutated and ultimately killed 30M (650,000 in the U.S.) in less than 2 years. And this was before massive immigration bloated this country's population—then it was only 100M and international travel was by boat and train.
The SARS virus is expected to mutate—and for the worse—but it may not. It could mutate to a benign form, and leave us alone. Or it could fade away over the summer, like the 1918-19 flu, then resurge in a more virulent form.
SARS is also expected to spread—particularly in the Third World. This will create an enormous incubation source for the disease.
In the end, we cannot eliminate the risk of SARS for sure without strict border control - and much-reduced immigration.
Walter Pringle (email him) studied biomedicine at a major university.