'rona in China surfacing in late 2019.
Open Source Early Warning Of The COVID-19 Outbreak
by James Timbie
Thursday, May 6, 2021
NATIONAL SECURITY TASK FORCE MAY 2021 REPORT*
The first public alerts about a novel coronavirus circulating in China in late 2019 came from open source networks established to conduct surveillance and provide warning of outbreaks of infectious diseases. One was ProMED (Program for Monitoring Emerging Diseases), a worldwide volunteer network of mostly health professionals who collect information from social media chatter, health department announcements, and local media outlets and feed it to a small staff of part-time health professionals, who curate information, circulate reports by email to subscribers worldwide, and post them in near-real time on their web site. The COVID-19 alert was the latest in a successful record for ProMED, which also provided early warning of the SARS, MERS, Ebola, and Zika outbreaks.
On December 30, 2019 a member of the ProMED network in Taiwan monitoring Chinese social media sent an email to a ProMED editor in New York calling attention to concerns expressed by medical authorities in Wuhan about an unexplained pneumonia. The ProMED editor proceeded to look for further information to validate this message, and found further evidence from a known Chinese financial news reporter confirming that Wuhan health authorities were responding to an unexplained outbreak. She then sent an email to the 80,000 ProMed subscribers alerting the world to a pneumonia of unknown cause in Wuhan, and seeking further information.