On December 31st 2019, the WHO delegation in China heard reports of a previously unheard-of virus seemingly affecting pneumonia sufferers in the highly populous Eastern City of Wuhan in China.
People all around the world watched in shock as China reported amounting deaths from this novel corona-virus & scientists quickly named it COVID-19 which, following a greater understanding of the structure of the virus has been amended to depict the more accurate name of COV-SARS-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2).
Rumours spread like wildfire, with talk & videos depicting the sale of tainted meat from a huge range of wild & domestic animals ranging from bats & rats to snakes & pangolins.
But there is uncertainty about several aspects of the Covid-19 origin story that scientists are trying hard to unravel, including which species passed it to a human.
What’s most likely is that virus originated in bats & the unlucky pangolin, a scaly mammal that are touted as “the most illegally traded mammal in the world” according to The International Union for Conservation of Nature – have been suggested as the staging post for the virus before it spread to humans.
Analysis of the first 41 Covid-19 patients in medical journal the Lancet found that 27 of them had direct exposure to the Wuhan market. But the same analysis found that the first known case of the illness did not, which adds uncertainty to the truth behind the established story.
But a few persistent voices, including respected microbiologist and biosafety advocate Richard Ebright, PhD, continue to highlight circumstantial evidence suggesting that SARS-CoV-2 escaped from a biohazard laboratory in Wuhan, China. Such an escape might have occurred via accidental infection of a lab worker who came into contact with the isolated virus, an infected lab animal, or animal waste.
For now, we cannot definitively rule out either origin story—a lab accident or a natural animal-to-human transmission. Determining the origins of this pandemic is unlikely to help current efforts to treat and cure the disease. It could, however, be an important determinant for efforts to prevent future outbreaks.
Whilst scientists and the established medical experts cannot be sure how and why SARS-COV-2 came about, the general public have generated many theories and each one is vehemently defended by those subscribing to it - a lack of knowledge does not seem to prevent it.