Norwegian duo Ylvis may have asked “what does the fox say” in their 2013 song. But, when it comes to the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic, the key question should be what science says rather than what what the politician, tv personality or random social media account is saying. And here’s what three new scientific preprints seem to say: The pandemic most likely began after severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) jumped from other animals to humans. And the site of that jump, or maybe those jumps, appears to have been the Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan, China.
Of course, a given preprint isn’t the same as a peer-reviewed publication in a reputable scientific journal, just like uploading a YouTube video of you wrestling with your cat over a glove might not be the same as the movie. Avengers: Infinity War. At least not yet. Pre-prints can vary greatly in quality and accuracy. So, for now, take all the results of these three studies with three hot dogs full of salt. Nevertheless, all three seem to offer hard data that further supports what many real scientists have been saying all along.
For one of the studies, described in a manuscript recently uploaded to Research Square, a team from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention analyzed 923 environmental samples and 457 samples from 18 different species of animals in and around the Huanan Seafood Market from January 1, 2020 to March 2, 2020. The research team found evidence of SARS-CoV-2 in 73 of the environmental samples and live virus in three of them, but not the animal samples. The viruses isolated had genetic codes 99.980% to 99.993% similar to SARS-CoV-2 which first appeared in humans in late 2019, early 2020. It’s quite similar. After all, if your housemate was 99.980% genetically similar to a walrus, you’d have a great explanation for why he or she has tusks and really likes soft-shell crab.
Then there are the two studies described by two manuscripts uploaded to Zenodo and conducted by a research team from several institutions in North America and Europe. One of these studies used various sources of data, including news reports, photos, interviews with doctors and patients and information from the World Health Organization (WHO) to determine where the human cases were. of Covid-19 diagnosed from December 2019 to February 2020. may have occurred. Cases reported in late 2019 appeared to be mostly clustered around the Huanan Seafood Market, while cases reported in subsequent months were more widely dispersed in surrounding communities.
In fact, the research team still identified the first cases in the southwestern part of the market and more specifically in a stall that sold live animals at the time. Among these live animals were raccoon dogs, which may look like a sequel to Quentin Tarantino’s film reservoir dogs but is actually an animal species native to mainland East Asia and northern Vietnam. The authors wrote that “together, these analyzes provided are positive evidence for the emergence of SARS-CoV-2 via live wildlife trade and identify Huanan Market as the unambiguous epicenter of the Covid pandemic. -19″.
Here is a BBC look at Huanan Market:
The other manuscript uploaded to Zenodo described a third study that analyzed the genetic composition of SARS-CoV-2 before February 2020. They found two viral lineages, called lineages A and B, which were apparently too distinct from each other to have evolved l each other while circulating among humans. Therefore, the researchers postulated that the B lineage viruses first jumped to humans in late November, early December 2019, while the A lineage viruses made the jump a few weeks later. It would have been similar to what happened with the original SARS, SARS-CoV-1, in 2002 and 2003, with different versions of the virus jumping from other animals to humans on multiple occasions.
Now, are any of these studies alone enough to “prove” that SARS-CoV-2 first jumped from other animals to humans at the Huanan Seafood Market? Should we stop all investigation of the other possible causes of the pandemic? Does this mean that the government of the People’s Republic of China did nothing wrong, was totally open during the early days of the pandemic, and handled the situation ideally? Should this be a closed situation where no further action is taken? No. No. And heck no.
However, these studies, assuming they eventually pass peer review, would add to the growing body of scientific evidence that the pandemic originated when the virus naturally jumped from other animals to humans. In 2020, I covered for Forbes how scientists had previously judged that the structure and genetic sequences of the SARS-CoV-2 structure were quite different from what humans would likely have concocted. Epidemiological studies have also justified Huanan Seafood Market being the epicenter of attention, so to speak. Since then, more and more studies have emerged that have supported such a natural origin of the pandemic, while those who claim that SARS-CoV-2 was somehow bioengineered or deliberately released have in many cases not provided enough real evidence.
Again, when it comes to the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic, it doesn’t matter what politicians say, what anonymous social media accounts say. Or even what the FoxNews said host Tucker Carlson. (If you recall, Carlson even suggested that Anthony Fauci, MD created Covid, as Timothy Bella reported for the Washington Post.) Instead, the only thing that should matter is what the real scientific experts and science say.