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What Happened on the Junket To China in February 2020?


The last two years have been such a disorienting blizzard of shock and awe that it is truly hard to keep up. We went from lockdowns to mitigation theater to mandates so quickly, and now one gets the feeling that we aren’t supposed to think or talk about any of this. 

We are just supposed to forget it all. Or believe that this is normal. Where are the investigative journalists and commissions? Where is the focus? Who is writing a serious, detailed, and critical history of this calamity? 

There are so many features of the timeline here that need investigation and explanation. 

  • Who came up with this 6-feet of distance rule and on what basis?
  • Who pushed the idea of festooning the country with plexiglass? 
  • Who was instrumental in pushing the panicked school and church closures? 
  • Who came up with the idea of shutting the hospitals nationwide to non-Covid patients even in places that had not yet met the virus? 
  • Why so little concern for small businesses and why were big-box stores exempted from shutdowns?
  • What exactly was the relationship between federal and state health officials that enacted so many similar policies so quickly? 
  • At what point did pharmaceuticals get involved and why were only three makers selected for the US and on what basis?
  • Who was responsible for suppressing facts about natural immunity? 
  • How did the boosters get approved without support of top FDA officials who later resigned?
  • How did the federal government so easily conscript social-media platforms into its disinformation campaign?
  • How did it happen that the Department of Health and Human Services released a confidential lockdown blueprint on March 13, 2020, even before the idea had the green light from the White House?
  • Gain-of-function research anyone?

That’s only a brief list of questions but there are potentially hundreds. 

Let me zero in on one weird thing that jumped out at me from the first tranche of FOIA’ed emails from the account of Anthony Fauci. 

In mid-February 2020, we know for certain that Fauci, Francis Collins, and Jeremy Farrar were obsessing about the possibility of a lab leak from Wuhan. During that period, the World Health Organization worked with the National Institutes of Health and many other nations to organize a trip to China. This took place February 16-24, 2020, two weeks after Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus of WHO had told the world that China is “setting a new standard” for virus response. All involved in this junket came back with glowing praise for how China handled the virus during its month-long lockdowns in Wuhan.

Here is a sample email, the first mention I can find. 

To which Cliff Lane of NIH responded:

Later too, a Chinese journalist made an inquiry that went unanswered. 

Journalist Jon Cohen (who later co-authored a puff piece on China in Science, March 2, 2020) asked for some photographs of the team but apparently did not get any. 

The report that came out from WHO (with NIH approval) was full of praise for how China crushed the virus. 

Here is the full report:


Cliff Lane of the NIH summed it all up well:

We know now that the strategy did not work. China did not contain SARS-CoV-2. What is happening in Shanghai today illustrates that. The lockdowns are more brutal than ever, effectively wrecking one of the major financial capitals of the world, and with no prospect for eradication in this country or any country.

And yet here we have officials from the NIH, presumably with the approval of Fauci, taking a trip to China, visiting several cities, meeting untold numbers of Communist Party members, and returning with glowing praise for how the government handled the virus. This trip might have been what set up the lockdown model for the entire world. 

Clifford Lane even bragged about it all:

When Dr. H. Clifford Lane, an assistant to Dr. Anthony Fauci, traveled to China a year ago as part of a delegation of scientists studying how the deadly COVID-19 virus had emerged in that country, he found a population determined to confront the disease.

“There were all sorts of measures put in place … social distancing, masks. Public awareness of the pandemic was known daily, said Lane, who spoke Feb. 18th via Zoom as part of the South Haven Speakers Series. “The entire country was at war against the virus.”

However, when Lane, who is deputy director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Disease, returned from his two-week trip to China in February 2020, he found a much different reaction to the virus in this country.

Unlike China, whose national government issued strict orders for the country’s inhabitants to follow, the U.S. federal government left much of the methods for controlling the spread of the virus to individual state governments.

The result was a mixture of control measures. While some governors in states like Michigan and New York forced closure of schools to in-person learning, and temporarily shuttered businesses considered “non-essential,” other governors took less stringent measures.

Even though health officials urged people to wear face masks to stop the spread of the virus, there was a resistance by people, in general, to do so. Even a number of federal officials, including President Donald Trump and some governors and senators, mainly Republicans, appeared in public with no masks on.

“There was a playbook for the federal government But was it applied? No. It was politics to a degree,” Lane said. Fauci, who heads up the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, also has been a critic of the mixed reactions to controlling the virus in America.

At that time, flights to and from China were banned for regular people. Did these officials charter a plane? Did the White House know this was happening? Who pushed for this and who approved it? When the WHO report came out (February 28, 2020), did anyone at the White House see it? The report mentions “mission members” (most from China) but how many staff from the NIH came along?

The meta-properties of the document mention that an American working for WHO, Maria Van Kerkhove, was the author. She is a highly trained scientist with long experience. She later found herself in hot water for telling the world that asymptomatic spread was not driving the spread of Covid, a statement she had to dial back (even if she was correct). 

Why did she prove to be so gullible about China’s glorious success in crushing Covid? What does she have to say now about this report that influenced the entire world to lock down?

There are so many questions and far too few answers. This one junket is just the beginning but it is a massively important one. We know now that the idea that China managed the virus well is a complete myth (it did not “demonstrate that the infection can be controlled”). The countries that locked down less or not at all had better outcomes in every area: health, economics, culture, and education. 

Why was the US so quick to adopt the tactics and strategies of the Chinese Communist Party and to what extent did this “joint mission” to several cities in China in mid-February influence that? 

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  • Jeffrey A. Tucker

    Jeffrey Tucker is Founder, Author, and President at Brownstone Institute. He is also Senior Economics Columnist for Epoch Times, author of 10 books, including Life After Lockdown, and many thousands of articles in the scholarly and popular press. He speaks widely on topics of economics, technology, social philosophy, and culture.

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