Where did COVID-19 come from?

Original article from USA Today

The coronavirus that conquered the world came from a thumb-sized bat tucked inside a remote Chinese cave. Of this much, scientists are convinced.
Exactly how and when it fled the bat to begin its devastating flight across the globe remain open questions.

In one year, SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, infected 94 million people and killed 2 million, 395,000 of them in the USA. Answers could stop such a calamity from happening again.

Researchers in China, under government scrutiny, have been investigating since last January. This month, a World Health Organization delegation of scientists from 10 nations finally was allowed in the country to explore the origins of the virus.

“This is important not just for COVID-19 but for the future of global health security and to manage emerging disease threats with pandemic potential,” Tedros Ghebreyesus, WHO’s director-general, said after the team left for China.

It’s not clear how much evidence will remain a year later or what the team will be able to learn. The Wuhan fish market, seen as a likely breeding ground for the virus, has been scrubbed and shuttered.

But the effort is worth it, infectious disease experts said. Understanding the journey of SARS-CoV-2 may provide insights into how the relationship between humans and animals led to the pandemic, as well as other disease outbreaks, including Ebola, Zika and many strains of flu.

“These are emerging diseases that breach the barrier between animals and humans and cause devastation in human populations,” the WHO’s Mike Ryan said last Monday at a news conference. “It is an absolute requirement that we understand that interface and what is driving that dynamic and what specific issues resulted in diseases breaching that barrier.”

The international team is not looking to assign blame, said Ryan, executive director of WHO’s Health Emergencies Program. If it were, there would be plenty to go around. “We can blame climate change. We can blame policy decisions made 30 years ago regarding everything from urbanization to the way we exploit the forest,” he said. “You can find people to blame in every level of what we’re doing on this planet.”

Click to Read Full Article in USA Today