Nautilus

What Really Inflamed the Coronavirus Epidemic

Last year, in late December, Li Wenliang, a young ophthalmologist, wrote 150 of his friends from medical circles. He said he had seen a number of cases of viral pneumonia come into the Wuhan Central Hospital, where he worked, and that they all seemed linked to the Huanan Seafood Market, the main source for restaurants in Wuhan, a metropolis of 11 million people, and the most important city of the central regions of China. Five weeks later, Li was dead, at 34, killed by the same virus about which he warned his friends in the same hospital that had warned him not to tell people what was happening.

An online tidal wave of reflection and grief that I’ve never seen before resulted. My own personal WeChat feed was flooded with comments and tributes to him, ranging from poems to cartoons of him eating his favorite meal of fried chicken. The rage was directed

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