IT’S A DANGER TO THE WORLD THAT THE PRECISE ORIGIN OF COVID-19 REMAINS A MYSTERY
It’s dangerous that Covid’s origin is a mystery
Published on: Sunday, 21 November, 2021
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Until we can rule out a laboratory origin for Covid, we must act as if it may have happened
My article for the Telegraph:
It is almost exactly two years since the pandemic began. According to an official document seen by the South China Morning Post, the first retrospectively diagnosed case of Covid in Wuhan was on November 17 2019, while genetic analysis points to a similar date, November 18. (The so-called “patient zero” discussed in the media this week has been known about for months and is very unlikely to be the first case even according to the World Health Organisation.)
In the case of Sars, 19 years ago, and Mers, nine years ago, the first known cases were followed within a couple of months by unambiguous clues as to how the virus jumped from an animal source into people. Both viruses live naturally in bats, which had somehow infected intermediate animal hosts such as palm civets and camels before transmitting into people.
Yet in the case of Sars-CoV-2, despite the fact that genetic testing technologies have advanced by leaps and bounds, we have no clear pattern of early cases stemming from an animal source. Dr Michael Worobey’s analysis this week pointing to a patient with symptom onset on December 11 who was a seafood vendor in the market is consistent with the Chinese authorities’ conclusion in May 2020 that the market was the site of a superspreader event, not the source. The positive samples from surfaces in the market show no correlation with the sale of wildlife products.
Meanwhile, there are still no cases of an original animal host found to be carrying this virus.
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It would seem to be very important to identify everything related to this virus so we know how to prevent it in the future.