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COVID 666: Wuhan_Part 11

by | Feb 23, 2024 | COVID, Intrigue, Science, Spy | 0 comments

China’s modern railway system is one of the marvels of the communist country. But as streamlined and luxurious as it is, it cannot disguise certain areas of stark poverty visible to passengers along the way. Contrasting are the virtually new, tall buildings that make up some cities, also seen during trips across the mainland.

Dr. JJ spent his time gazing out the window, while Woodrow Cade simply relaxed enjoying an occasional beverage and admiring each female railway employee delivering food and drink. “You should check out some of the scenery here. It’s amazing,” JJ said.

“That’s what I’ve been doing,” Cade responded. “I just don’t bother to look outside, since I’ve seen that before.”

“So, none of this is new to you?” JJ asked.

“Some. It’s been a while since I’ve been here but there’s not enough new to grab my attention just now,” Woodrow casually remarked. “Unfortunately, it will likely be dark by the time we reach Wuhan. Otherwise, I would be interested in seeing the layout of that area as we pass through.”

“I’m not sure how much time we’ll have to sightsee,” JJ replied.

“I’m not interested in sightseeing; but gawking at the countryside is a good way to allay suspicion that we might be more than just a couple of tourists,” Agent Red said.

“We’re scientists here to exchange ideas,” JJ reminded his companion. “That should separate us from being viewed as tourists or from drawing suspicion.”

“The Communist Party is suspicious of everyone, including their own people,” Cade countered. “Just act dumb, it’s your best defense.”

“Easy for you to say,” JJ chuckled.

“It would benefit to you watch and learn,” Cade said, in a monotone. “Appearing dumb without being dumb is an art.”

JJ just looked quizzically at his fellow agent for a moment, as Woodrow simply smiled back. After checking into their hotel, the two men decided to turn in early to be prepared for a big day at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in the morning. There were several lectures and seminars planned and a small contingent of scientific personnel from various countries were expected.

The next morning, after a breakfast of egg pancakes and sausage, the two agents climbed into one of the taxis waiting for customers in the front of the hotel.

Once they arrived at the Wuhan Lab, they presented their invitation credentials to security. The two men were ushered into a spacious waiting room where several other prominent scientists were also waiting.

“Keep an eye out for anyone who might be from the World Health Organization that might remember us as Russian journalists,” Woodrow cautioned. “No WHO representatives were on the list of attendees, but we can’t be sure there won’t be any last-minute add-ons. The WHO and the Chinese are pretty tight.”

“I don’t see DG Ghebreyesus, but there are a couple independent scientists I know,” JJ said. “I’ll check to see if they know of any WHO members here.”

Cade could see Agent Gray chatting with two men, who looked about and shook their heads as if to say, “No.” Good, one hurdle cleared, the agent thought, with a slight sight of relief.

Just as JJ was returning, a large door swung open, and the group was invited into a small auditorium where the lectures would be held. After everyone was seated, a lab official stepped to the podium.

“Welcome distinguished men of science,” the woman announced, recognizing no women were in the group. She identified herself as the lab’s administrator.

She began by emphasizing that the WIV was aware that gain-of-function virus research was suspected but denied the lab engaged in it. However, the administrator did indicate that all G-O-F studies were confined to genome sequencing in an effort to find pathways to future vaccines. All the lab’s work in that area was to help prevent the occurrence of a pandemic outbreak.

She concluded by identifying the coronavirus as the lab’s chief interest and said Wuhan’s scientists had isolated up to seven different strains. Following her opening remarks, the scientists were given the latest information on the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) research being done at the lab, both known to be caused by coronaviruses.

Following the lecture, the visiting scientists were treated to a tour of the lab where they observed the work from behind panels of soundproof glass.

At the end of the presentations, the agents Red and Gray decided to visit the Huanan Seafood Market because of its unique fare.

“A lot of exotic animals are sold as delicacies here,” Woodrow remarked, as the two men wandered through aisles of fresh meat and seafood. “Everything here is fresh so eat it quick.”

“I would not eat it at all,” JJ offered. “This place is like an incubator for disease. I’m just glad it isn’t the middle of summer. The odors here would be hard to bear.”

“And not that far from the virology lab,” Cade stated, looking out through the entryway at the nearby lab. “Let’s stop here. I want to pick up a couple sparrows.”

“Are you nuts!? JJ said. “How are you going to cook them? Don’t tell me you’re going to eat them raw!”

Agent Red flashed a smile at JJ and then turned to a vendor and said something that sounded like Mandarin Chinese. The vendor immediately went behind a canvas curtain and returned shortly with a neatly wrapped package and handed it to Cade.

The agent took the package and handed a wad of bills to the vendor.

“This ought to tide us over,” Woodrow said, as he brushed past JJ on his way out of the market with the doctor following behind.