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The Wuhan Institute of Virology. Photo: Hector Retamal/AFP via Getty
The Trump administration’s ongoing offensive over China’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic now centers on one question: Who was “patient zero”?
Why it matters: China hawks in Washington accuse Beijing of inflicting death and economic destruction upon the world with their lack of transparency around the coronavirus outbreak. They’re on a mission to trace that story back to the beginning, when the first human was infected.
The U.S. intelligence community and scientists like Anthony Fauci say there’s now enough evidence to conclude that the virus evolved naturally, putting to rest claims that it was some sort of bioweapon.
That leaves two remaining theories:
Pompeo’s case, made in a press conference on Wednesday and a series of media interviews, is the following:
Between the lines:
Where things stand:
Worth noting: Anger with China over its lack of transparency isn’t limited to those who believe the virus began in a lab.
Other countries — even some hit hard by the coronavirus — are beating back their outbreaks more successfully than the U.S., Axios' Caitlin Owens and I write.
Why it matters: The number of new cases every day is holding steady in the U.S., but it's not going down — a key benchmark many other countries achieved before loosening their lockdowns and social distancing measures.
In some of Europe’s hardest-hit countries, case counts seemed to skyrocket uncontrollably even amid some of the world’s strictest lockdowns.
America’s daily rate climbed faster and higher (due in part to its larger population), but appeared to have peaked at around 30,000 new cases per day in the first week of April.
The big picture: “It seems that this is a controllable pandemic without it having to run its natural course,” says Columbia University economist Jeffrey Sachs.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
Researchers are racing to develop treatments based on antibodies to block or neutralize the coronavirus in patients, with the hopes these could be ready for possible emergency use by the fall, Axios' Eileen Drage O'Reilly writes.
Why it matters: Many experts feel antibodies from recovered patients and synthesized antibody drugs could be important bridge treatments for COVID-19 during the months or years until a successful vaccine is available.
As for the vaccine... the question of whether to deliberately infect volunteers to test vaccines for COVID-19 is being hotly debated by scientists, ethicists and lawmakers, writes Axios' Alison Snyder.
The big picture: Controlled human infection studies have been used for centuries to evaluate vaccine doses and candidates for influenza, norovirus and other diseases.
Flashback: Challenge studies were used nearly 300 years ago to test the first efforts to stop the spread of smallpox.
Maduro with loot seized from the attackers. Miraflores Presidential Palace/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
The invasion force planned to slip into Venezuela in teams, make contact with paramilitaries and potential turncoats, and eventually take Nicolás Maduro by force.
How it happened: Sunday’s botched invasion was organized by Jordan Goudreau, a former Green Beret who runs a Florida-based security firm. He has claimed the mission was backed by Juan Guaidó, the Venezuelan opposition leader.
The operation was as leaky as it was amateurish.
Fernando Cutz, a former South America director on the National Security Council, says this all sounds like something you’d hear in South Florida’s growing “anti-Maduro bubble.”
Duterte spars with the media during a press conference. Photo: Manman Dejeto/AFP via Getty
1. Poland will delay Sunday’s presidential election following objections over the last-minute switch to postal voting and the inability of the opposition to campaign due to COVID-19.
2. The Philippines' telecommunications commission shut down the country's largest TV network on Tuesday, the latest step by President Rodrigo Duterte's government to put pressure on major media outlets.
3. Iraq has at last sworn in a new government, to be led by former intelligence chief Mustafa al-Kadhimi.
4. Cocaine traffickers are hurting during this global pandemic because dwindling cargo shipments make it harder to smuggle drugs, according to the UN.
In 1847, the Choctaw people raised $17o for families suffering through Ireland’s potato famine.
Sunrise at Rio's Copacabana Beach. Photo: Buda Mendes/Getty Images
"We have proved that Russia is becoming a truly modern democratic state. The peaceful succession of power is the crucial element of the political stability we have dreamed of, to which we have aspired and which we have sought."— Vladimir Putin in his first inaugural address, 20 years ago today
Go deeper: Special report — 20 years of Putin