More scientific studies conclude that COVID-19 evolved naturally and is more widespread than previously known. Researchers have traced the origins of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, to bats and pangolins not only in China, but also in other hotspots in Southeast Asia and Japan.
According to The Wall Street Journal, a recent study found that a single change in the genetic structure of the spike protein of the virus allowed it to infect humans.
“All those viruses are coming from nature,” said Dr. Robert Garry, assistant professor of microbiology and immunology at Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans, co-author of that study.
Another study published in February in Nature found evidence that SARS-CoV-2 related coronaviruses were widely circulating in bats and pangolin in Southeast Asia. According to the Journal, Dr. Stanley Perlman, a virologist at the University of Iowa who has been studying coronaviruses for 38 years, said the new studies reveal that “nature developed this virus without human intervention.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) has also been investigating the origins of the virus, and its team of experts believe it while the theory that the COVID-19 originated accidentally in a Wuhan, China laboratory is not “entirely off the table,” they consider this possibility extremely unlikely. WHO is expected to publish a full report about its findings in Wuhan in a few weeks, according to the Journal.
Scientists predict that the current pandemic may signal more scourges in the future. A recent Australian investigation revealed the factors that could determine where the next catastrophe will probably occur and why. According to scientists conducting the research, emerging infections are the result of increased animal-to-human interfacing, globalization, and failing healthcare systems.
According to Fast Company, the worst infectious viruses that have threatened us globally have been zoonotic, meaning they traveled from animals to humans. While there is has been speculation that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, may have jumped from horseshoe bats to humans at a wet market in Wuhan, China, there has been no scientific proof of this occurrence. However, an outbreak of a similar virus, SARS, began at a comparable market in 2002, after the virus spread from bats to civets.
Michael Walsh, the lead author of the Australian study, and an infectious disease epidemiologist at the University of Sidney’s’ School of Public Health, said his analysis shows that areas in Africa and parts of Asia are most at risk.
Walsh says that societies “need to think about ways to minimize contact between wildlife and humans as much as possible, which means working with forest departments and other land management agencies to think about ways to reduce the sharing of space.”
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