In a recent phone interview with Howard Stern, Beatles legend Paul McCartney called out those in China who eat bats (and other exotic animals) in “wet markets,” which some experts believe played a prominent role in initiating the (COVID-19) coronavirus pandemic.
Stern and McCartney’s 50-minute-long talk covered a number of interesting topics and ideas, many of which quite naturally centered on the novel coronavirus. Notably, McCartney compared the current spirit of those in England to the overall mood during and after World War II, when the public rallied together against a common enemy.
The wet-market dialogue began when Howard said, “I don’t understand. The Chinese government, which is a communist government, that really can shut down anything. But for some reason, as your wife points out [in an email], they will not close down these wet markets that got us into this trouble in the first place. It’s mind-boggling, right?”
Paul McCartney agreed with Stern’s assessment of wet markets and the necessity of shutting them down. Then, the 77-year-old mentioned the other serious illnesses that have derived from China, as well as the role that he believes the Chinese government should assume in addressing the matter:
“It seems like, you know, SARS, and Avian [bird] flu, and all sorts of other stuff that’s afflicted us… I really hope that this will mean that the Chinese government — like you said, they’ve got power, it’s not like they’re powerless — Let’s hope that they will say, ‘Okay guys, we’ve really got to get super hygienic around here.’ I mean, let’s face it, come on, it’s a little bit medieval, eating bats.”
Following a brief pause, Howard Stern asked Paul if he’d stopped eating bats, and Paul jokingly responded that he had, but Ozzy (Osbourne) has not. Subsequently, McCartney said, “They [those who eat and sell bats at wet markets] need to clean up their act.”
Paul McCartney’s outrage with wet markets is likely dual-edged, as he’s been a vegetarian since 1975 and has long advocated for animal rights.
This week, said wet markets made headlines for beginning to reopen in China, despite the warnings and advisories of many health professionals and scientists. The seafood and animal market where the first COVID-19 cases emerged, in Wuhan, reportedly sold meat and live animals including wolves, rats, bats, and porcupines.
Notably, according to a recent report from The Washington Post, U.S. science diplomats visited a laboratory in Wuhan several times in 2018 and felt compelled to send two “sensitive but unclassified” wires back to Washington, warning of inadequate safety in the lab and, specifically, the identification of bat coronaviruses that could potentially be transmitted to humans.
Experts, though far from sure if this facility was the initial site of the coronavirus outbreak, have acknowledged that it’s a very real possibility.