Context: WHO must work alongside China in quickly uncovering the origins of the virus.
Uncovering the origin of corona virus is shrouded in mystery due to various factors. Discuss.
- Origin of the virus: In the case of the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), its source is still unknown even 11 months after WHO reported the first case.
- Knowing the natural reservoirs, intermediate hosts and the events that allowed the virus to jump across the species barrier are important in prevention.
- Soon after the virus spread around the world, there was heightened demand to identify its origin in China’s Wuhan where the first case cluster was reported.
- Efforts to find the origin: It was only in early August that WHO completed the mission to lay the groundwork for joint efforts to identify the origin.
- It was only in late October that China began early studies for the two-phase investigation.
- Politicizing the issue: If China failed to alert WHO immediately after a Wuhan cluster was reported, its reluctance to quickly and earnestly investigate the source can partly be explained by U.S. President Donald Trump’s attempt to politicise the issue.
- Economic cost: The reluctance has only increased after mounting international anger over its reporting the outbreak and the huge economic cost of the pandemic globally.
- Susceptibility: One way to find this out is to know the susceptibility of different animal species.
- There is strong evidence that the virus originated in bats and probably spread to humans through an intermediate species.
- Already, many animals including cats have been found susceptible to the virus in the lab and outside.
- With the virus spread so wide, zeroing in on the intermediate host becomes more difficult as the possibility of humans having spread the virus to animals cannot be ruled out.
- A multi-pronged approach with an emphasis on investigating China’s wildlife farms becomes crucial. This highlights the importance of working alongside China to uncover the virus’s origin.