The disease apparently had spread among merchants in a seafood market in Wuhan, a city of 11 million people.
Within days, a few mainstream news outlets also picked up the story. American news outlets, however, were slower to grasp what Sanders watched unfold in the early hours of Dec. 31
The reports which were picked up by FluTracker were based on government statements about patients who had already been sick for weeks. Efforts to sound the alarm earlier were suppressed; eight doctors in Wuhan who raised concerns before the official announcement on Dec. 31 were detained by police. One of the whistleblowers, Li Wenliang, became a national hero in China before he died of the virus.
Sanders, however, recognized quickly that there was something unique about this outbreak — she had a gut feeling because from her experience running the website it seemed highly unusual for Chinese officials to acknowledge they have a health crisis on their hands. Her blog’s contributors — include some doctors and pharmacists who blog and routinely submit links to local news reports, medical journals and other data from around the world. Lending a professional eye to unusual patterns in world health.
Soon after the blog launched, several global disease shocks began to break, from the avian flu in 2006, the H1N1/swine flu pandemic in 2009, and the H7N9 bird flu outbreak in China in 2013. The blog brought together research papers, local reports and obscure documents translated by contributors from multiple languages.
Sanders doesn’t take advertising or sell anything on her site. These days, more than a few people seem interested. Since the outbreak in Wuhan, Sanders says, FluTrackers has attracted nearly 353,000 unique visitors who have clicked on the site 15.5 million times, far more than the 11.6 million recorded during all of 2019.
This shows how we can actually use the internet and social media for the global good. Bloggers with certain levels of expertise in certain areas should actually be encouraged by industries more. As people with a passion for a topic will bring a lot to the table