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It's been more than a year and half for us being in this chaotic phase, battling the catastrophic effect of the pandemic which has led to an estimated deaths of 3.5 million people worldwide. But, even after such a long duration one question that still keeps hovering on our mind is -
Where did COVID virus actually come from ?
Till now numerous teams of scientists & researchers have toiled hard to solve this mystery but none could come with an assured and accurate solution.
The two most prominent and widely accepted theories are -
- Virus leaked from laboratories in Wuhan while performing lab experiments.
- Viruses leaked from bats to humans via intermediate hosts in mining sites.
Let's try to track the chronology of events pertaining to the above potential theories.
The first evidence of the theory dates back to December 2019, when the World Health Organization (WHO) was informed that 3 Chinese researchers while working in the lab sought hospital care with COVID like symptoms (pneumonia) in Wuhan city which was further identified as a novel coronavirus. Soon in February 2020 The Lancet, a group of 27 scientists disapproved theories about its origin from labs and concluded that it originated in wildlife by bats. This was done by comparing the lung patches of miners diagnosed with pneumonia with COVID patients. Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), scientists studied samples from 276 bats in the mine and found a coronavirus strain RaBTCOV/4991 (back in 2016) and while researching now when it was compared to present SARS-COV-2 strain they found 96.2% genomic match.
But then USA comes into the picture when its Defense Intelligence Agency's updated assessment states the possibility of China's "unsafe laboratory practices" which has led to the emergence of the coronavirus.
But then, The Times reported that a virus similar to COVID-19 strain was found in one of the abandoned copper mines (having presence of bats) in China which was further studied at WIV and its genetic structure does not rule out a laboratory origin.
But again a statement comes from diplomatic channels of the USA stating the virus as a result of failures in a Chinese laboratory.
On the contrary China says these theories are "hype" created by the US and the virus came from Fort Detrick, a US Army base in Maryland.
In March 2021, WHO stepped in but even it's official report remained inconclusive, WHO Secretary General said - "All hypotheses remain on the table". So here we can see how the dice keeps on rolling on either side of potential theories without any final conclusion.
And on May 26, 2021 the newest development arose when the US President Joe Biden asked its agencies for a final report in 90 days to find whether the virus originated from an infected bat or from a laboratory accident.
And hopefully this upcoming report might address this question and solve the mystery.
It is necessary to know the origin of the virus because staying in the dark makes us vulnerable to more such outbreaks in future and thus it becomes imperative for countries to rise above global politics and contribute in finding the origin of this virus.
This article has been written by Kartik Bajare for The Paradigm
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