The story of how the novel coronavirus ... laboratory in Wuhan might have spread a deadly bat virus that had been collected for scientific study. "Monitoring bat populations can help people to understand how viruses are transmitted and which regions are at high risk of bat-borne diseases," she says. Related: The 12 deadliest viruses on Earth. Initial assessments conducted by the Chinese government pointed to the city's Huanan Seafood Market as the likely cause of a natural outbreak of SARS-CoV-2, a new coronavirus that causes Covid-19. These alphabet-soup viruses all belong to the same family: the coronavirus. Piglets suckling on a farm in Guangdong province in southeast China, where the virus struck. New York, None of the bat viruses are close enough to the novel coronavirus to suggest that it jumped from bats to humans. Zoonotic viruses — diseases that spill over into new animal and human populations — occur as people and domesticated animals push up against previously isolated wildlife. But once the farmers separated sick piglets and sows from the rest of the herd, the outbreak abated within a few months. A team led by Shi Zheng-Li, a coronavirus specialist at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, reported on 23 January on bioRxiv that 2019-nCoV’s sequence was 96.2% similar to a bat … The 2003 outbreak of SARS was eventually traced to horseshoe bats in a cave in the Yunnan province of China, confirmed by a 2017 paper published in the … These are called adventitious agents and they can contaminate cell lines and animal models without knowledge. Though we may never get a definitive answer, at least in the near-term, some say it doesn't matter. The answer hangs upside-down and lives in caves: Bats. That is the CDC needs full access to the level 2 and level 4 labs in Wuhan. 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The CCP's Document 3 (the CCP playbook on hiding this virus from the world) commanded all researches to destroy the original blood work I am sure the CCP is currently "cleansing" the labs. "It appears that the rate of new zoonotic disease emergence is increasing, but these events are still rare.". The first Black Bat. Researchers often find contaminating viruses in their model systems that they had no idea were there. "It is very difficult to predict which virus will be the next to spill over into humans, and even harder to predict whether that virus will cause disease," he says. Please refresh the page and try again. Jeanna Bryner - Live Science Editor-in-Chief "This analysis of coronavirus genome sequences from patients and from various animals suggests that the virus likely arose in an animal host and then may have undergone further changes once it transmitted and circulated in people," Lauring told Live Science. And there are currently no vaccines against any coronavirus strains. A single bat specimen may have had multiple strains. We need to get into those labs. But, given the number of coronaviruses that have now spread from animals to people, he adds, "it seems a safe bet to think it will happen again. Along the way, that virus would pick up random genetic mutations that pop up but don't do anything noticeable, said Nikolai Petrovsky, in the College of Medicine and Public Health at Flinders. China is not alone. WIV was not immune to those concerns. Though no scientists have come forth with even a speck of evidence that humans knowingly manipulated a virus using some sort of genetic engineering, a researcher at Flinders University in South Australia lays out another scenario that involves human intervention. Please deactivate your ad blocker in order to see our subscription offer. Bats don't just spread SARS and MERS; they can also harbor diseases like Ebola, Hendra, Marburg and Nipah, a virus in Southeast Asia that also spilled over from bats to pigs and then moved on to humans. This lab at the Wuhan Institute of Virology is among just a handful of labs across the globe cleared to handle level 4 pathogens, which are the most dangerous viruses that pose a high risk of person-to-person transmission. "Since one can never say 100% for anything, I think we always need to be aware of all possibilities in order to contravene. We assume that if this came from the lab, the lab knows about it. Is interaction between bats and humans that damn prevalent to where this is even necessary? Live Science senior writer Rachael Rettner contributed to this report. Furthermore, the notion that SARS-CoV-2 was genetically engineered is pure conspiracy, experts told Live Science, but it's still impossible to rule out the notion that Chinese scientists were studying a naturally-occurring coronavirus that subsequently "escaped" from the lab. Best article yet. 18 April 2020. COVID-19 is a new disease, caused by a novel (or new) coronavirus that has not previously been seen in humans. Or, he added, an "inappropriate disposal of waste from the facility" could have infected humans directly or from a susceptible intermediary, such as a stray cat. As for what viruses were being studied at WIV, Zhengli says she did a thorough investigation. "Because the mutations are acquired randomly by selection, there is no signature of a human gene jockey, but this is clearly a virus still created by human intervention.". You will receive a verification email shortly. he says. Meanwhile, the lab at the center of these speculations had long been sounding the alarm about the risk of the SARS-like coronaviruses they studied to spawn a pandemic. Thank you for signing up to Live Science. Future US, Inc. 11 West 42nd Street, 15th Floor, But scientists can start to rule out an idea that the pandemic-causing coronavirus was engineered in that lab or further created as a bioweapon. Can science 'prove' there's an afterlife? "During interactions with scientists at the WIV laboratory, they noted the new lab has a serious shortage of appropriately trained technicians and investigators needed to safely operate this high-containment laboratory," the officials said in their cable dated to Jan. 19, 2018. We just don't know which virus it will [be], where it will come from, or when.". It had infected the piglets during an outbreak of PEDV, and then it rapidly took over; by May 2017, more than 24,000 piglets had died. For this reason, it's really important to know which coronaviruses were being studied at WIV. When reports of the coronavirus first popped up in China, the U.S. Deputy National Security Advisor Matthew Pottinger reportedly suspected a potential link to China labs. (SARS-CoV-2 would require a BSL-3 or higher, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.) And British geneticists trace the earliest cases to September or October, based on the mutation level between different strains (https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8231753/Coronavirus-started-spreading-early-September-not-originated-Wuhan.html ). Anthony adds an important concern: "Bats are super important!" But, again, there is no evidence that this played any role in the origin of the novel coronavirus. Related: 11 (sometimes) deadly diseases that hopped across species. How One Man Triggered A Deadly MERS Outbreak, A Taste For Pork Helped A Deadly Virus Jump To Humans. Here's the murky origin story of the novel … Related: 20 of the worst epidemics and pandemics in history. For example: some bats eat mosquitoes, which also carry dangerous viruses like malaria, yellow fever, chikungunya, Zika and more. xPacifica /Getty Images "The result of these experiments is a virus that is highly virulent in humans but is sufficiently different that it no longer resembles the original bat virus," Petrovsky said in a statement from the Australian Media Center. Once researchers got this new virus under the microscope, they confirmed that it was a virus in the same family as both PEDV and SARS — but it wasn't one they'd seen before. They found that a key part of SARS-CoV-2, the spike protein that the virus uses to attach to ACE2 receptors on the outsides of human cells, would almost certainly have emerged in nature and not as a lab creation. These questions have led some people to look elsewhere in the hunt for the virus's origin, and some have focused on the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV). Melody Schreiber (@m_scribe on Twitter) is a freelance journalist in Washington, D.C. And while scientists have gotten to know some of the most intimate details of the virus called SARS-CoV-2, one question has evaded any definitive answers — Where did the virus come from? These types of labs do spur concerns among some scientists who worry about the risks involved and the potential impact on public health if anything were to go wrong, Nature News reported. The suspected patient zero, likewise, doesn't seem to be a Wuhan resident (https://www.scmp.com/news/china/society/article/3074991/coronavirus-chinas-first-confirmed-covid-19-case-traced-back ). It is a man-made virus created in the lab." Any country increasing agricultural intensification and land-use changes may also experience viral spillover and the rapid spread of new diseases. Although researchers will likely continue to sample and sequence coronaviruses in bats to determine the origin of SARS-CoV-2, "you can't answer this question through genomics alone," said Dr. Alex Greninger, an assistant professor in the Department of Laboratory Medicine and an assistant director of the Clinical Virology Laboratory at the University of Washington Medical Center. The complex narrative switches from the initial perspective of … SARS and MERS, on the other hand, are upper-respiratory infections. We may never know the origin of the coronavirus, but there's a good chance the Chinese do, and they've been dissembling. I was pretty sure I wasn't going to get this kind of straight talk from the Washington press corps. Among the theories circulating: That SARS-CoV-2 arose naturally, after passing from bats to a secondary animal and then to humans; that it was deliberately engineered and then accidentally released by humans; or that researchers were studying a naturally-occurring virus that subsequently escaped from a high-security biolab, the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) in China. They're widely distributed, highly diverse, evolve rapidly and adapt easily to new hosts. ", "They give us a head start by identifying viruses with the genetic prerequisites for human infection, and viruses in areas where the ecological conditions might facilitate spillover," he says. That knowledge, in turn, can inform prevention strategies. And if horseshoe bats were the primary host, how did the bat virus hop from its natural reservoir in a subtropical region to the bustling city of Wuhan hundreds of miles away? This spillover event may have happened before the virus found its way into a live animal market, "which then acted as an amplifying setting with many more infections that subsequently spread and the rest is history," Keusch said. The novel is primarily set in the Northern Song dynasty (960–1127) of China, but its setting also covers the non-Han empires of Liao, Dali, Western Xia and Tibet. While they do carry zoonotic viruses, they are critical for a well-balanced ecosystem. Zhengli and another colleague, Peng Zhou, did not reply to a Live Science email requesting comment. The most poignant and compelling story of the book is that of Bing – the author’s own mother, who sailed on the last ship to leave Shanghai in 1949, the General Gordon. 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