Global Statistics

All countries
620,432,307
Confirmed
Updated on September 26, 2022 11:18 pm
All countries
599,214,909
Recovered
Updated on September 26, 2022 11:18 pm
All countries
6,540,967
Deaths
Updated on September 26, 2022 11:18 pm

Global Statistics

All countries
620,432,307
Confirmed
Updated on September 26, 2022 11:18 pm
All countries
599,214,909
Recovered
Updated on September 26, 2022 11:18 pm
All countries
6,540,967
Deaths
Updated on September 26, 2022 11:18 pm
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Where Did Covid 19 Originate

Scientists Battle Over The Ultimate Origin Story: Where Did The Coronavirus Come From

That remains the consensus of many scientists but the lab leak theory has never gone away and has become louder than ever. It is not a theory so much as a constellation of scenarios that imagine how the virus may have emanated from a laboratory in China, ranging from the accidental to the sinister.

It dominates news coverage and public discussion of the origin of the pandemic, shoving aside the natural zoonosis hypothesis which asserts that, like so many previous infectious pathogens, the novel coronavirus most likely jumped unassisted into the human population from a still-unidentified animal host.

Scientists havent found that animal, however. Some virologists, including Perlman, have said they cant rule out some kind of unintentional laboratory accident.

Its possible, for example, that researchers studying coronaviruses in Wuhan did not even know they had SARS-CoV-2 in their facility. The new openness to such scenarios culminated last month when the journal Science published a letter from 18 prominent scientists calling for a more robust probe of the viruss origin and criticizing a World Health Organization report that called a lab leak extremely unlikely.

This is a fraught moment not only for virologists, but for scientists broadly. They have had to deal with some version of the Frankenstein meme for generations. Now, theyre faced with suspicion that somehow they are responsible for a plague that has killed millions of people.

Was The Virus Spreading In People Outside China Before December 2019

Answering this question is also key to establishing the timeline of the first COVID-19 cases. Previously, researchers in Europe have reported,, finding antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 in samples taken at blood banks from November 2019 onwards.

Ben Embarek says this doesnt necessarily suggest the virus originated in Europe, but supports the idea that it was spreading in Wuhan before the first known cases. Wuhan at that time was a very well-connected international city with direct flights to the entire planet on a daily basis. So if it was circulating in Wuhan, it could easily have been brought to other parts of the world through travellers, and circulating again, undetected, in different regions, he says.

Still, he recommends that the blood samples from Europe be retested to confirm that they indicate cases of COVID-19. Some of them, from Italy and France, are already being reanalysed, he says.

Read: Us Urges Who To Carry Out 2nd Phase Of Covid

Although the Wuhan labs scientists have said they had no trace of SARS-CoV-2 in their inventory at the time, 24 researchers sent a letter to the World Health Organization urging a rigorous, independent investigation. The WHOs first such mission to China this year failed to probe deeply enough, they wrote.

A US State Department fact sheet, released before the WHO mission in the waning days of the Trump Administration, alleged, without proof, that several WIV researchers had fallen sick with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 or common seasonal illnesses before the first publicly confirmed case in December 2019.

A May 5, story by Nicholas Wade in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, said lab scientists experimenting on a virus sometimes insert a sequence called a furin cleavage site into its genome in a manner that makes the virus more infectious. David Baltimore, a Nobel Prize-winning virologist quoted in the article, said when he spotted the sequence in the SARS-CoV-2 genome, he felt he had found the smoking gun for the origin of the virus.

WHAT ARE THE ARGUMENTS FOR ANIMAL-TO-HUMAN TRANSMISSION?

What Was The Role Of The Huanan Market

The intermediate animal that passed the virus from bats to people has not been identified, but researchers think it might be a wild species that is sold as food in wet markets, which typically sell live animals. Early in the pandemic, investigators homed in on the Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan, because it sold fresh and frozen animals and many of the earliest infections were in people who had visited it. But the lead went cold when other early cases were found that were not associated with the market. Viral material was identified in drains and sewage at the market, but none was found on any animal carcasses.

Still, the market is the only place where a large number of the people infected at the start of the outbreak were exposed to meat and animals. Its important to establish how the virus got into the market and whether it was on an animal, says WHO team member Hung Nguyen-Viet, an environment and food-safety researcher at the International Livestock Research Institute in Nairobi.

Nguyen-Viet says the team identified ten stalls selling wildlife, either wild or farmed, that could have carried the virus into the market from farms in southern China. Some wild animals sold for meat, such as rabbits and ferret-badgers, are susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 or the related virus that causes severe acute respiratory syndrome .

Can I Get Infected From Delivery Food Packages Or Groceries

Daily Covid

It’s highly unlikely that you’ll catch COVID-19 from packages, groceries, or food. The important thing is to limit your contact with other people. If you do your own shopping, try to keep at least 6 feet away from others in the store. That might not be possible all the time, so wear a face mask, too. If you use a delivery service, have them leave groceries, food, or packages outside your front door if you can.

Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds before and after bringing things into your home. If you want, you can wipe down plastic, metal, or glass packaging with soap and water. Then clean and disinfect countertops and anything else you or your bags have touched.

Continued

Claim That Chinese Team Hid Early Sars

Jun. 23, 2021 , 7:45 PM

Sciences COVID-19 reporting is supported by the Heising-Simons Foundation.

In a world starved for any fresh data to help clarify the origin of the COVID-19 pandemic, a study claiming to have unearthed early sequences of SARS-CoV-2 that were deliberately hidden was bound to ignite a sizzling debate. The unreviewed paper, by evolutionary biologist Jesse Bloom of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, asserts that a team of Chinese researchers sampled viruses from some of the earliest COVID-19 patients in Wuhan, China, posted the viral sequences to a widely used U.S. database, and then a few months later had the genetic information removed to obscure their existence.

To some scientists, the claims reinforce suspicions that China has something to hide about the origins of the pandemic. But critics of the preprint, posted yesterday on bioRxiv, say Blooms detective work is much ado about nothing, because the Chinese scientists later published the viral information in a different form, and the recovered sequences add little to whats known about SARS-CoV-2s origins.

What Is The Lab

It’s a suspicion that the coronavirus may have escaped, accidentally or otherwise, from a laboratory in the central Chinese city of Wuhan where the virus was first recorded.

Its supporters point to the presence of a major biological research facility in the city. The Wuhan Institute of Virology has been studying coronaviruses in bats for over a decade.

The institute is a 40-minute drive from the Huanan wet market where the first cluster of infections emerged in Wuhan.

Those who support the theory say it could have leaked from a WIV lab and spread to the wet market.

Most argue it would have been an unaltered virus collected from the wild, rather than engineered.

The controversial theory first emerged early on in the pandemic, and was promoted by then-US President Donald Trump. Some even suggested it could have been engineered as a possible biological weapon.

While many in the media and politics dismissed these as conspiracy theories at the time, others called for more consideration of the possibility. Nevertheless, the idea resurfaced in recent weeks.

Investigations Into The Origin Of Covid

There are several ongoing efforts by scientists, governments, international organisations, and others to determine the origin of SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic. Most scientists say that as with other pandemics in human history, the virus is likely of zoonotic origin in a natural setting, and ultimately originated from a bat-borne virus. Several other explanations, including many conspiracy theories, have been proposed about the origins of the virus.

SARS-CoV-2 has close genetic similarity to multiple previously identified bat coronaviruses, suggesting it crossed over into humans from bats. Research is ongoing as to whether SARS-CoV-2 came directly from bats or indirectly through any intermediate hosts. Initial genome sequences of the virus showed little genetic diversity, although subsequently a number of stable variants emerged , indicating that the spillover event introducing SARS-CoV-2 to humans is likely to have occurred in late 2019. Health authorities and scientists internationally state that as with the 2002â2004 outbreak of SARS-1, efforts to trace the specific geographic and taxonomic origins of SARS-CoV-2 could take years, and the results could be inconclusive.

On 22 July 2021, the Chinese government held a press conference in which Zeng Yixin, Vice Health Minister of the National Health Commission , said that China would not participate in a second phase of the WHO’s investigation, denouncing it as “shocking” and “arrogant”.

How Could The Lab Leak Theory Affect Efforts To Stop The Pandemic

The origin of COVID-19 doesnt change the need to fight the pandemic, since its already here. We dont want to focus too much on finding the origins when we still need to deal with the problems of the pandemic happening right now. We need to keep focusing on vaccinations, as well as masking and social distancing when necessary. Its especially important to focus on these measures right now, as we are seeing parts of the world open up again. 

While figuring out where COVID-19 came from is important, we still need to be vigilant to prevent more waves of illness.

Key Findings From The Wall Street Journals Investigation Into How The Global Pandemic Began

    It is among the worlds most consequential mysteries: Where did the coronavirus that killed millions of people and shattered the global economy come from?

    The Wall Street Journal has covered the global quest for answers, tracking the World Health Organization, doctors and scientists in China and around the world, the U.S. intelligence community and the vast network of disease specialists, all struggling to piece together a puzzling set of disparate clues. Here are some of the key findings:

    1. A WHO-led inquiry into the origins of the virus was stymied from the start.

    A Journal investigation found China resisted international pressure for an investigation it saw as an attempt to assign blame, delayed the probe for months, secured veto rights over participants and insisted its scope encompass other countries as well. The WHO-led team that traveled to China in early 2021 to investigate the origins of the virus struggled to get a clear picture of what research China was conducting beforehand, faced constraints during its monthlong visit and had little power to conduct thorough, impartial research without the blessing of Chinas government. In their final report, the investigators said insufficient evidence meant they couldnt yet resolve when, where and how the virus began spreading.

    2. China withheld data on potential early cases and delayed sharing information on animals sold at a market where the first cluster was found.

    A Sherlock Holmes In The World Of Pandemics

    Over the past decade, Worobey has become a bit like the Sherlock Holmes of pandemic origins. His work has helped explain how the 1918 flu emerged and how HIV came to the U.S. earlier than people thought. “It got to New York City pretty darn early, probably around 1970, 1971, somewhere in there,” Worobey told NPR in 2016.

    During the coronavirus pandemic, Worobey has been studying how SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes the disease COVID-19, spreads around densely populated cities such as Wuhan, China, where the outbreak is thought to have begun. Using this information, he built computer simulations to model how SARS-CoV-2 may have transmitted through Wuhan early in the outbreak, before doctors detected the first cases, likely in December 2019. The models could estimate key aspects of the early outbreak, such as when the first case occurred, how long the virus spread in the city before doctors noticed it and how many cases were in the city at that point.

    A few months ago, Worobey says, his models couldn’t differentiate between the lab-leak theory and the alternative theory that the virus jumped directly from an animal into people. Both theories were consistent with the data. “So I was on that Science letter,” he says, “asserting that more investigation is needed of both possibilities.”

    What Roadblocks Are Keeping Us From Knowing Where Covid

    There are a few things making the efforts to determine the origin of COVID-19 difficult. First of all, finding the origins of outbreaks takes time. For example, it took 14 years for researchers to figure out the most likely origin of the SARS virus outbreak. While there is certainly a lot of attention placed on COVID-19, we need to keep in mind that figuring the origins of outbreaks takes awhile.

    Second, investigators dont seem to be able to get all the evidence that they need to determine the origins of the outbreak. The WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus points out that the team investigating the origins of the outbreak in China had a hard time getting access to the information they needed, and that more research is needed regarding the possibility of a lab leak and the possibility of cases of COVID-19 prior to the first known case on December 8, 2019.

    Clearly, we shouldnt expect a fast answer to the question of where COVID-19 came from. Well need more information and time to figure it out.

    Was The Virus Circulating In Wuhan Before The First Known Cases

    Covid

    To trace the viruss origin, its crucial to pin down exactly when the first cases occurred in people. The WHO team established that the first person known to have COVID-19 was an office worker in Wuhan with no recent travel history, who began showing symptoms on 8 December 2019, says Peter Ben Embarek, a food-safety scientist at the WHO in Geneva, Switzerland, who led the investigation. But the virus was probably spreading in the city before that, because it was well-established by later that month, he says.

    Yet evidence of earlier spread has proved elusive. Researchers in China conducted an extensive survey of patient reports from hospitals in Wuhan made between October and December 2019, and identified fewer than 100 people who had symptoms of COVID-19. They then tested the blood of 67 of those people for antibodies generated by past infection with SARS-CoV-2, but found none. This suggests there wasnt a large cluster of infections before December, or an unusual spike in deaths in the surrounding province of Hubei.

    But Ben Embarek says the analysis should be repeated using less restrictive symptom criteria, to make sure that researchers spot all potential COVID-19 cases.

    How Reliable Is The Evidence

    The intelligence relating to the three staff at the WIV has been described as uncorroborated evidence from a foreign source, ie it was not obtained or so far verified by a US intelligence agency, and was initially looked at under the Trump administration.

    It was very precise, one source told the WSJ, but added the crucial caveat: What it didnt tell you was exactly why they got sick.

    According to the New York Times, not one but two intelligence documents were produced discussing the sick workers, one focused on the three individuals, the second about what was known about the origins of the coronavirus. There are multiple issues, however, with how to interpret this information.

    Questions include whether the symptoms seen were of coronavirus or bad flu and whether the sickness if it was coronavirus was related to work in their lab, or simply suggests that Covid-19 was circulating in the general population in Wuhan a few weeks earlier than assumed.

    Bidens comments, launching the review, are revealing not least when he said that the US intelligence community does not believe there is sufficient information to fully understand the likelihood of different scenarios for explaining the origin of the virus that causes Covid-19.

    Biden also revealed that two of the 18 US intelligence agencies lean towards the theory it jumped from an animal species to humans and one leans more toward the lab theory, suggesting a striking lack of clarity.

    Why The Locations Of The Market And The Lab Matter

    Then Garry did something that the WHO didn’t: He added to the map the locations of the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market and the Wuhan Institute of Virology, where scientists study bat coronaviruses. “It’s a very simple thing to do,” Worobey says. “But it really paints a pretty clear picture, right?”

    The dots show the cases starting right near the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market and then radiating out from there. “The Huanan market seems like the bull’s-eye of this outbreak. It’s pretty extraordinary.”

    What about cases near the Wuhan Institute of Virology , which is more than 10 miles from the market? “There are no cases around the WIV,” Worobey says. “If the outbreak did start in the lab, the bottom line is, it would be odd for it not to be spreading from there rather than from elsewhere.”

    The other piece of data, which helped shift Worobey’s thinking, concerns the products sold at the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market. Was there anything at the market that has been previously known to spread SARS coronaviruses?

    Since the pandemic began, the Chinese government has claimed the vendors at the market didn’t sell any illegal wildlife. “They said the market was operating completely legally,” says biosecurity expert Gigi Gronvall at Johns Hopkins University. “And just on the face of it, you just know, that’s not correct.

    “And lo and behold, it’s not,” she adds.

    What Evidence Supports The Theory That Covid Developed Naturally

    Unfortunately, we dont have a lot of clear information about where COVID-19 came from, but the theory that the WHO considers most likely is that the virus made the leap from some animal host to humans. That being said, the virus has not yet been found in any animals, so the missing link in this chain remains undiscovered.

    The virus could make the jump to humans in a few different ways: 

    • As Dr. Relman explains, the virus could have jumped to humans by direct contact with an infected animal at a market in Wuhan. 
    • Another scenario would be if someone had been exposed to COVID-19 somewhere else before they traveled to Wuhan, and exposed people at a crowded market. 
    • Alternatively, an animal might have been shipped to Wuhan from elsewhere, and there might even be a second animal that served as an intermediate host for the virus. 

    Other viruses have jumped from animals to humans this way. One example is the SARS outbreak in 2002. SARS is a coronavirus, like COVID-19 is. 

    Since we know this type of transmission has happened in the past, its reasonable to think that COVID-19 could have done something similar. Researchers havent found any proof of this yet for COVID-19, though. They have tested over 80,000 animals so far, and have not yet found the virus in any of them.

    How Did The Covid

    Over the last several months the question of where SARS-CoV-2 originated, exactly how the COVID-19 pandemic began, has become an increasing focus of public discussion. The issue has become fraught and politicized, debated in the halls of Congress, on the front page of leading publications and perhaps most contentiously on cable news.

    The two dominant theories are that the virus was introduced into humans from an animal reservoir, or that a lab accident seeded the virus into the population of Wuhan. Recently, I joined in writing a critical review of this question with 20 other virologists, epidemiologists and evolutionary biologists from around the world. We examined all the scientific evidence available, and we came to the conclusion that SARS-CoV-2most likely originated in animals although the possibility of a lab accident cannot be entirely dismissed.

    Another powerful piece of circumstantial evidence only recently came into view. The WHO origins team was told by Chinese authorities and carefully selected local residents that the Huanan market didnt sell live mammals, including animals with the potential to carry SARS-CoV-2. If true, then the pandemic couldnt have started at the market. No animals, no virus.

    If a virus escapes from a lab not only would it be unlikely to happen twice in quick succession, but only one version, the lab version, should escape. If SARS-CoV-2 jumped twice, it must have done so from animals.

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    What Evidence Supports The Lab Leak Theory

    There isnt a lot of evidence supporting the lab leak theory. As Dr. David Relman, an expert in emerging infectious disease at Stanford University, points out in an interview, there is a virology lab in Wuhan that extensively studies coronaviruses. An accident in the lab could have led to a release of the COVID-19 virus. For example, the COVID-19 virus could have been in a sample collected from an animal and stored in the lab, used in an experiment, or discarded as garbage, leading to exposure to humans. 

    This WHO team did investigate this possibility, but did not find any direct evidence that COVID-19 was leaked from the lab in Wuhan. The team concluded that this was the least likely origin of COVID-19.

    Fact Check: Trump Spreads Distorted Claim On Wuhan Lab Funding

    Thus, while lab accidents do occur and Boni said the possibility should be investigated it doesnt really compare to the scale of human-animal contact that you have in a province like Hubei where theres 60 million people and on an average day 5 million of those people could have been in contact with an animal at a market.

    Lacking more information, Boni said he thought a natural spillover for SARS-CoV-2 was a thousand times, a million times more likely than a lab leak.

    The Lab Leak Theory Explained

    In late January of 2020, after Wuhan was placed under lockdown, The Lancet published a paper by Chinese scientists positing that the virus had come from bats, perhaps by way of another animal at the Wuhan meat market. It remains a reasonable assumption to have made: This kind of animal-to-human transmission, known as zoonotic spillover, is believed to be responsible for two-thirds of human infectious diseases, including Ebola, SARS and many types of the flu.

    But in February 2020, two Chinese researchers suggested in a since-withdrawn paper that SARS-CoV-2 had probably originated in one of two laboratories the Wuhan Institute of Virology or the Wuhan Center for Disease Control. Both conduct some of the worlds most extensive research on bat coronaviruses through the collection of cave samples, often yielding important findings: In 2017, an esteemed virologist at the Wuhan Institute, Shi Zhengli, was able to trace SARS, which broke out in 2002, back to a colony of horseshoe bats. Shi went on to publish some of the most important earlyresearch on SARS-CoV-2.

    There have long been concerns, though, that such intimate study of bat-borne viruses could itself cause a spillover event.

    Why Has The Lab Leak Theory Come Back Now

    The Coronavirus CONSPIRACY â Did COVID

    Thats complicated. The overt hostility of the Trump administration to China, and the way it pushed the lab leak claims, including a dodgy dossier that was doing the rounds last year, made it a pretty tainted source.

    The advent of a Biden administration, which is less hostile to China, combined with the limitations in the WHO investigation, created an environment where some have felt able to ask questions about Covid-19s origins without appearing to buy into Trump-era conspiracies.

    However, like the Benghazi attack in 2012, the Wuhan lab leak theory remains something of a cause celebre for the US right in the midst of what is essentially a cold war between the US and China.

    In particular, it has been seen as a stick to beat the Biden administrations handling of it, not least following the decision to close down a state dDepartment group that had been looking into the lab leak theory.

    That effort, first reported by CNN, was quietly launched by the then secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, last autumn and reportedly became quickly mired in concern that it was part of a politicised effort by the Trump administration to blame China and cherry-pick facts to prove a theory.

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