Where does the COVID-19 coronavirus come from? Can we ever find out?

corona, coronavirus, covid

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Since the outbreak officially began in December, the most common assumption is that the virus originated in the so-called “wet market” of Wuhan, a Chinese city where the first COVID-19 cases were reported. But as viruses spread around the world, the role of public health laboratories in the United States has come under increasing scrutiny, with a host of theories, some more credible than others. In two laboratories in Wuhan, lengthy experiments with bat viruses have helped scientists quickly identify coronaviruses as coming from nocturnal mammals. But the same laboratories are also raising concerns about biosafety, and one of the Level 4 Biosafety Lab’s leading virologists, based at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, wonders if the coronavirus could come from samples stored in those laboratories. 

A recent study by Gryphon Scientific found that the probability of an accidental release leading to a global pandemic after a local outbreak is extremely low, which makes it unlikely, given the available evidence. Conspiracy theories were fueled by other research that cast doubt on the origin of the outbreak. The Wuhan Institute of Virology conducted a study funded by the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to capture mammals and examine their immune systems. The sequencing of the COVID-19 genome traced it back to a bat found in a Yunnan cave, and at first it was thought that it had been transmitted from the animal market in Wuhan to humans by humans. Netizens became suspicious and claimed the coronavirus had leaked from a laboratory where researchers had studied the virus for seven years. While many scientists have previously claimed that the deadly coronavirus, which has infected 1.6 million people worldwide, originated from wild animals sold as food at markets in Wuhan, there are several theories that contradict such claims. Some claim that the virus passed from person to person and then spread from person to person. Others say growing evidence suggests the virus may have been originated from a Chinese lab while it was being studied at the CDC in Wuhan. 

The coronavirus pandemic is believed to be the result of a bat virus discovered in 2013 by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institutes of Health (NIH) and by Wuhan’s Institute of Virology, examined by the CDC, according to a statement from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. An article in Foreign Affairs is rejecting conspiracy theories about the origin of the pandemic, but also mentioning circumstantial evidence supporting the possibility of its release from the laboratory. Evidence included a study by the South China University of Technology, which concluded that the coronavirus originated in the Wuhan Center, near the Hunan Seafood Market, often cited as the source of the original outbreak. It is thought that a pathogen may have developed, which then escaped from the laboratory. China has a history of out-of-control diseases, SARS twice escaped from a Beijing lab, Mosher wrote in the New York Post. Officials attributed the new coronavirus outbreak to the Wuhan Center, according to scientists confirmed by the South China Technical University and other coronavirus researchers. There is no scientific evidence to support the claim that anyone produced the coronavirus. There is a paper published on March 17 in Nature Medicine that deals with the properties of the virus, including the site where the viruses can bind to human cells. It looks like it was invented by humans, but there seems to be convincing evidence that it is not, strange.

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