What are the theories of the origin of coronavirus?
In the second half of March, WHO released a report after a team of prominent researchers spent around four weeks in China to investigate the possible origins of the Coronavirus. The report presented an analysis and suggested four possible scenarios which may have resulted in the virus outbreak.
- Out of which the first theory dealt with the direst spillover from animals to animals. It suggested that the virus directly entered the human body from an animal, possibly a bat. And subsequently it spread out in other humans as well.
- The Second one suggests that this transfer of virus may have been through an intermediate which is also an animal. This simply means spillover from an animal to an animal intermediate which is in regular contact with the human species and then through that host, the virus travelled to the Human body.
- The third theory focuses on the Cold Chain spread of the virus. It says that it may have spread through the supply chain for the distribution of frozen or refrigerated items.
- Fourth and the most controversial theory is the Lab leak theory of the origin of the coronavirus. This theory propagates that the virus accidentally or deliberately may have leaked through the Wuhan Institute of Virology where scientists study coronaviruses in bats.
Why is the lab origin theory creating controversies?
The Chinese city of Wuhan, where virus cases were first recorded, has a major research institute and called as Wuhan Institute of Virology and it is administered by the Chinese Academy of Sciences which directly reports to the State Council of the People’s Republic of China. And this institute is reportedly conducting studies on coronaviruses in bats for around 10 years.
Surprisingly, the institute is located at a distance or merely a few km from the Wuh
an seafood Market, where the virus spread first. And the early cover-ups give space for this theory to flourish. If this theory is so unlikely to be true, then why didn’t China warn other countries against the deadly infections? Why were the truth-tellers who wanted the world to know about the origins and spread of this Virus, detained by the Chinese authorities? Why many of them suddenly went missing and were later declared dead? Why are the Chinese authorities showing unwillingness to open an investigation? Why did China spend most of its energy covering up things than curbing initial infections? All these questions make one wonder over the most likely possible backstage conspiracy.
Why is it creating kerfuffle again?
This theory firstly emerged in the initial days of the pandemic and was highly promoted and discussed by the then US President Donald Trump when the virus was at its peak in America. Trump even accused China of using this as a biological weapon. But the media, scholars, and many researchers dismissed these claims. Even when WHO conducted research and published the report on possible origins of the virus, it profoundly stated this theory to be least likely to be true.
But now the US intelligence reporter cited by Wall Street Journal has claimed that three researchers at the Wuhan laboratory were treated in hospital in November 2019, just before the virus began infecting humans in the city. This has raised the eyebrows of many who earlier dismissed these claims.
The Biden administration had earlier showed the least interest in this theory and thus had shut down the US state department investigation which was set up by President Trump, into the lab-leak theory. But now the President says that he has asked for a detailed report on the origins of Covid-19, including whether it emerged from human contact with an infected animal or a laboratory accident. He has ordered agencies to maximize efforts and report the findings in 90 days.
Also, Biden’s Chief Medical Adviser, Anthony Fauci, told the US senate committee, “That possibility certainly exists, and I am totally in favour of a full investigation of whether that could have happened”.
Considering China’s cover-up and its being least affected despite high population, now researchers have also shown fresh openness to this theory. A prominent group of scientists criticized the World Health Organization’s report and said that they have not taken the lab leak theory seriously. “We must take hypotheses about both natural and laboratory spillovers seriously until we have sufficient data,” they wrote in Science Magazine.
Now, Even Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO’s director-general who has been very supportive of China from the beginning, has demanded a new investigation, saying “All hypotheses remain open and require further study”.
London’s official stance states that the theory should not be ruled out and further investigation must be facilitated. As per Telegraph’s report, a senior Whitehall security source said that “We are contributing what intelligence we have on Wuhan, as well as offering to help Americans to corroborate and analyze any intelligence they have that we can assist with.”
Without pointing to China directly, the spokesperson of the Indian Ministry of External Affairs has also supported the probe to trace the origins of the coronavirus.
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