Why drinking camel urine is probably not very dangerous, or: The history of MERS and the false threat of emerging pandemic pathogens
It is the pandemicists, not any virus, who are the real danger
Let’s talk about Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome.
It’s a betacoronavirus that infects primarily hospital patients in the Middle East, with a reported fatality rate as high as 35%.
That sounds very scary indeed, yet in 2014, Germany’s foremost Virus Understander, Christian Drosten, was eager to reassure the public that MERS is nothing to worry about:
I think the chances of a [MERS] pandemic are low. It is true that [SARS and MERS] are closely related to each other as coronaviruses. But there is a very decisive difference: SARS has only jumped from an animal to a human once in China. After that, it was able to spread from person to person. The situation is completely different with MERS: Here, humans repeatedly become infected directly from animals. The chains of infection are very short. This is reassuring because it is still a typical zoonosis, that is, it’s not a pathogen that jumps from person to person.
Since the Corona pandemic, Drosten has taken a new view of MERS. This is partly because we have since learned that MERS can transmit among humans, albeit only with great difficulty and primarily in hospitals. Yet it is also because the Covid era has opened a wealth of funding opportunities for those engaged in coronavirus fearmongering. In November 2020, Drosten suddenly announced that MERS might be “the next candidate for a pandemic virus,” and just a few months ago he told the Berliner Morgenpost of his “concern … that a [MERS] variant will form … that can lead to a worldwide pandemic.”
This is plainly ridiculous. MERS has basically no chance of spreading widely among humans, and there’s no way Drosten doesn’t know this. In fact, a look at the discovery of MERS and its history reveals nothing so much as the deep foolishness of pandemicist virus anxiety in general. The Drostens of the world pose a far greater danger to our health and well-being than this nothing camel virus.
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial