Who’s Worried About China’s New Mystery Illness?

Written by Hudson Crozier

What’s happening: Reports claim a “mysterious” outbreak of respiratory illnesses in Northern China that strongly affect children, including a form of “undiagnosed pneumonia,” but some experts are throwing water on the story.

Why it matters: The reports raised fears China will soon be the birthplace of another deadly pandemic. However, a wide range of expert voices agree the illnesses are already well-known and there is no cause for global concern at the moment. For now, it seems mostly politicians and journalists want the public to worry.

From the establishment: The World Health Organization, Chinese officials, and American health experts put the blame on common viruses and on mycoplasma, a bacteria that springs up every few years. Mycoplasma occasionally causes severe illnesses such as pneumonia for which there is no vaccine.

From a skeptic: Influential virologist Dr. Robert Malone also recently pointed to mycoplasma. He says what China is seeing “is a pretty standard seasonal infectious disease pattern,” accusing media outlets of “fear-based propaganda.” Dr. Malone is known for countering mainstream narratives on COVID-19 and vaccines, so his comments indicate some consensus.

It’s political: Republican senators have already asked President Joe Biden to limit travel to and from China due to its “history of lying about public health crises.” They referenced former President Donald Trump’s decision to “protect the American people” by preemptively restricting travel in January 2020.

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