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3 Persistent Questions About the Coronavirus’s Origins – Cleveland, Ohio

Cleveland, Ohio 2021-05-29 06:57:00 –

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  • UREEM2805 / WIKIMEDIA COMMONS (CC BY-SA 4.0)
  • The Wuhan Institute of Virology (pictured) is once again at the center of speculation as to where the COVID-19 pandemic began, as some scientists demand transparency from the Chinese government.

The controversy is once again swirling over the origin of the coronavirus behind the COVID-19 pandemic, and we need to find out where it came from.

On May 26, US President Joe Biden announced that he had called on intelligence agencies to “further strengthen their efforts to collect and analyze information that could bring them closer to the final conclusion.” He requested a report 90 days later.

Some major virus experts are also seeking open and transparent research. “Until we have enough data, we must take the hypothesis about spillover in the laboratory naturally and seriously,” the researchers wrote in Science on May 14.

In an article in the Wall Street Journal on May 23, several news articles were published in the lab about a scenario that describes a scenario in which three researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Visology claim to have become ill with COVID-. After questioning whether it began after the spill from, the lab’s leak idea gathered new speculation-symptoms like 19 in November 2019. Of the many possible respiratory illnesses, it is not yet known what illnesses they have.

A World Health Organization report on March 30 concluded that SARS-CoV-2 could probably have been transmitted to humans from animals rather than from the laboratory (SN: 4/1/21). However, WHO Secretary-General Tedros Adhanom Gebreyes emphasized that the hunt was not over and all hypotheses remained on the table.

There is a lot of uncertainty and confusion because there are few answers. Here are three important questions that continue to rise.

1. Why does the Labreak hypothesis survive?
The main reason for this is that we still don’t know where the coronavirus came from. Where there are gaps in knowledge, countless hypotheses rush.

At this point, most researchers agree that the virus was not manipulated in the laboratory based on the results of genetic studies (SN: 3/26/20). However, one plausible scenario is that someone accidentally infected in the laboratory while working on the coronavirus itself and spread it to others in the community. Laboratory accidents have occurred in the past, and in some cases people were infected with the coronavirus during research, causing a SARS outbreak from 2003 to 2004. In these cases, the virus caused the virus to spread around the world. It occurred after the epidemic had almost subsided as it stopped spreading in the community.

More generally, the coronavirus has jumped from animal to human many times over the last two decades. The SARS virus spread to humans from civets infected with the bat coronavirus. The MERS virus continues to spread from camels to people in the Middle East. In addition, three children in Haiti were infected with the porcine coronavirus in 2014 and 2015, researchers reported in a preliminary study in March. In addition, a recent clinical infection study reported that eight Malaysians were infected with the same coronavirus found in dogs in 2017 and 2018.

These two latest findings show that the coronavirus can infect people more often than previously thought, we just didn’t see. Researchers have also found a fragment of the SARS-CoV-2-like coronavirus in bats native to Southeast Asia, but no smoking guns yet.

2. What evidence do I need to prove the source of the virus?
Finding almost the same virus in wildlife as SARS-CoV-2, whether in bats or other animals, would be of great help in proving that the virus came from nature. But it takes years. It’s a difficult pursuit (SN: 3/18/21). And we may never find it. For example, the Ebola virus probably originates from bats. However, while researchers have found fragments of the virus in bats, they have never found a complete genetic plot of the bat Ebola virus, a closely related species of the bat Ebola virus that caused the outbreak in people. This is despite decades of searching.

Regarding evidence of laboratory leaks, experts are asking public health agencies and laboratories to publish their records. These records may help identify whether a person working at the Wuhan Virology Institute has been infected with COVID-19. (WHO reports that all workers tested negative for antibodies, but team members did not have access to raw data.) Lab data show that the virus being studied in the lab is SARS-CoV-2. It also shows if it is the same as .. (One of the lab’s chief scientists said no such virus was found in her records, but members of the WHO team recorded. Could not be accessed.)

3. Why do we care anyway?
Finding out where the latest coronavirus came from is a step towards preventing a major epidemic from happening again. This is true regardless of where the virus came from. The virus may be originally of animal origin, as laboratories often recover the virus from the wild for research, whether the outbreak started naturally or after a laboratory accident. there is.

Knowing that threats exist in animals means that researchers can monitor high-risk animals and people for early warning. For example, experts around the world are paying attention to the influenza virus in poultry. This is because ducks and chickens can be a source of bird flu and can have a fatal effect on those who come into contact with birds, and in most cases those who come into contact with birds (SN: 3/11/15). ). And laboratories need to continue to closely monitor laboratory facilities to ensure that the environment is as safe as possible for those who handle potentially deadly viruses.

Publisher Science news. Reprinted here with permission.

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