Coronavirus has become one of the most fearful names among the population worldwide. With the blame game between China and the United States on the origin of the new virus, people around the world are unsure where the virus came from. As the coronavirus outbreak began in Wuhan, China, the scientists at public health laboratories diligently started their research. A long-running experiment in Wuhan quickly linked the origin of coronavirus with a bat.
Moreover, snake and pangolin were found to be carriers of the virus that must have contributed to the viral transmission to humans. However, many people speculate that coronavirus is humanmade and was purposely released around in public to test its potential, although there is no clear evidence to support this data.
Today’s article will focus on the facts that can site the origin of the coronavirus. Furthermore, we will discuss preventive strategies to stay protected from a deadly infection.
Coronavirus is a family of viruses that primarily cause respiratory illness. SARS-CoV-2 is a type of coronavirus that has been declared the potential agent that causes COVID-19. Typically, a person infected by the novel coronavirus experiences mild to moderate upper respiratory tract infection. (1) The usual symptoms of this disease include –
- Dry cough
- Nasal congestion
- High-grade fever
- Headache and body aches
Generally, the virus transmits from one person to another through respiratory droplets while sneezing, coughing, and even breathing. Moreover, the virus can stay alive on inanimate surfaces for almost three days, increasing the risk of contamination. Older people with systemic illnesses such as heart and lung conditions or even diabetes are said to be at high risk of contracting the disease.
What is the origin of coronavirus?
The recent outbreak of the novel coronavirus began in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. Many scientists have traced back the first COVID-19 positive case in China and suspected its origin from the infected workers at the seafood market in Wuhan, China.
Since then, there have been several studies and phylogenetic analysis performed at the public health laboratories that link bats as the source of viral spread. Moreover, bats are one of the most sold animals at the seafood market in Wuhan.
Typically, the strings of DNA sequence act as a blueprint to determine its origin when crosslinked with the type of virus found in bats. However, according to the researchers, the closest bat virus cannot infect the human cells. Therefore, scientists believe that the virus must have been passed to humans through an intermediary animal carrier such as pangolins. (2)
Ideally, the bat virus infects an intermediate animal. After the transmission, the virus replicates and mutates to promote the spread of infection to humans who come in close contact.
Spread from Intermediate animal
A famous Chinese study sampled around 1000 metagenomes of wild animals to determine the most likely intermediate host of the new coronavirus. It was found that the metagenomes sampled from pangolins (anteaters) had a 99% match to the viral genome found in coronavirus infected people during the recent outbreak. (3)
Pangolins are the most illegally traded mammals in the world, typically known for the medicinal properties of their scales.
A counter study ruled out the possibility of pangolins as intermediary animals altogether as the virus was taken from pangolins lacked a chain of amino acids, which were seen in the human coronavirus. There is a need for more extensive research and scientific data to support the link between humans and pangolins to demonstrate the spread of coronavirus.
Is coronavirus manmade?
SARS-CoV-2 is the novel coronavirus that emerged in Wuhan, China, last year and since then has rapidly spread around the world, causing a COVID-19 pandemic. Since its evolution, there have been many speculations that the novel coronavirus could b a deliberate product of genetic engineering.
However, many immunologists and microbiologists studied and analyzed the public genome sequence of the data from SARS-CoV-2. They found no clear evidence that the virus was made in the laboratory through genetic engineering. Moreover, it confirmed that the novel coronavirus originated through natural processes. (4)
Furthermore, the scientists also analyzed the molecular structure and the genetic template for spike proteins (armatures on the outside surface of the virus used to penetrate the outer walls of human or animal cells). It showed that the molecular and genetic structure of the novel coronavirus differed from all other known coronaviruses.
The results of this study declared that if coronavirus to be made in a laboratory, it would have been constructed using the backbone of a previously known virus that causes similar illnesses. Therefore, it was implausible that the novel coronavirus was genetically engineered.
How dangerous is the novel coronavirus?
The novel coronavirus disease is not a life-threatening disease. However, it is highly transmissible, which can be quite devastating. Usually, healthy people have a sound immune system to combat many infections. Therefore, they recover on their own or with the help of minimal medical attention.
On the other hand, people with low immunity, such as older people with heart and lung disease, are more susceptible to experience a more severe form of the disease. Moreover, the presence of systemic illness can compromise the health of the person, even more, leading to an increased risk of death.
Looking at the health situation created by the COVID-19 pandemic, the WHO has recommended prioritizing pregnant mothers and older people for diagnostic testing and medical attention.
Currently, there is no proven medical treatment that can cure the novel coronavirus infection. Although several clinical trials are being carried out to test the best possible treatment for COVID-19, medications such as Remdesivir and chloroquine have shown good recovery results against the new viral infection.
However, more research is going on to develop a vaccine and a definitive treatment for COVID-19.
Since there is no medical treatment for COVID-19, the CDC has recommended specific preventive strategies to protect yourself from the disease transmission –
- The first thing to follow is social distancing. Avoid large crowded areas in public and maintain at least six feet distance from the people around you.
- It is best to stay at home and isolate yourself. Purchase enough medical and food supply that’ll last you for weeks. (5)
- Wash your hands frequently using soap and lukewarm water for at least 20 seconds. You can also use a hand sanitizer with 60% alcohol content.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces to stay clear of contamination
- Wash your groceries thoroughly before consumption
- If you experience symptoms of COVID-19, contact your local health officials to discuss the best possible treatment.
Take away message
The novel coronavirus is a highly contagious disease that spreads from person to person through respiratory droplets, close contact, and contaminated surfaces. It first emerged in Wuhan, China, in December 2019.
Many scientific tests have shown a strong indication of bats as the origin of the new coronavirus. Moreover, they have also suggested that the virus cannot infect a human directly from the bat. Therefore, there must be a common source that is the source of spread from bat to humans.
Some clinical studies found pangolins as one of the intermediate animals where the virus mutates and transmits to humans. However, there is more research required to prove this study. Moreover, scientists have also ruled out the possibility of coronavirus being genetically engineered, which confirms its natural occurrence.