The world is experiencing unusual pandemic, triggered by a mysterious virus that came from the animal world. Today nobody knows the exact details of its origin. What knowledge we have about the new coronavirus should we prepare for another epidemic?
The first question is whether the new coronavirus pathogen of natural origin. In search of an answer, we went to the Swiss Institute of Virology and immunology. This laboratory is under Bern one of the first in Europe received a live sample of the new coronavirus, whose official name – SARS-CoV-2. The researchers were able to quickly make its synthetic clone.
The head of the Institute, Professor Christian Griot, ironically observes: “It may seem strange, but Yes, in this beautiful area in the nature, we have SARS, the cloned virus. It’s true.”
Synthetic sample is potentially as deadly as natural, say experts. For the development of clone scientists have used new technology, work took them a few weeks. The fact that the researchers were able to quickly clone the virus that makes you think about the fact that initially it could be created in the laboratory.
Professor Griot disagrees: “Well, at this point there are speculations saying that the virus was created in Wuhan laboratory, which investigates the syndrome SARS. In my opinion, today, it is only speculation, we have no conclusive evidence in favor of this version”.
Whence, then, came the new coronavirus? “Most likely, the virus was originally present in bats, and then he settled in the reservoir, intermediate host (we don’t know what animal it was), and from there attacked the man,” sums up Professor.
It is established that the first outbreak of SARS in 2002, led by the bats, they also provoked a syndrome of MERS in 2012. Now these animals are the number one suspects in the spread of the novel coronavirus. According to epidemiologist Dominic Ponthieu, bats have a unique, strong immune system. It allows them to cope with the viruses that can easily kill other animals.
“The amazing thing is that the majority of bats of the disease are asymptomatic, – said the expert. – They do not develop signs of infection – pick disease, a new coronavirus, Ebola, viruses, Nipah and Hendra, MERS. It all circulates in the environment of the bats, but we have the impression that at them is not affected”.
Scientists believe that the virus is close to a new coronavirus that existed in populations of bats for decades. The personal appearance of this type of man probably occurred due to prolonged contact between different types – in one form or another.
“At some point during the exchange can occur in a good genetic combination is successful for the transmission of the virus to humans, – says Ponthieu. – The virus just so the population does not occur! It’s a long process, and usually the culprit is man himself”.
At the Museum of natural history in Paris researcher Alexander Hasanan working to better understand this process. Some genes in the new virus indicates its possible Association with the pangolins, pangolins, which are sold illegally for use in traditional Chinese medicine.
Virologist asks: “I Wonder how do lizards have gotten this virus, that’s the RUB. Because the virus is found in animals, which were seized by the customs. To date this virus has not been identified at the dinosaurs, living in the wild”.
Scientists once again question the human role in the transmission of the virus. It is possible that the pangolins, smuggled from Southeast Asia have been infected by bats in the Chinese market. The virus, discovered from pangolin, only 90% consistent with the human subtype. To achieve absolute coincidence of needs about 50 years of evolutionary change.
“We are now in the wild virus, as close as possible to what strikes a person! – Alexander Hasanan. – The strange story, as everything leads us to Southeast Asia, to the South of China, but not in Wuhan. Obvious to me in this story is the role of smuggling wild animals, the virus came either directly from imported animal exposed for sale or kept in captivity or from the animal lab. Anyway, impetus was given by the smuggling of live representatives of fauna”.
“However, if the new coronavirus made the transition from animals to humans, it is logical to think about our relationship with the animal world in General, to understand the risks for the future. Nobody knows animals better than vets. One of them, Michel Pepin, operates in the veterinary Academy near Lyon. He stressed that the coronaviruses, often coming from the bat, literally surround us: “Almost all kinds of animals carry the coronavirus is true for cats, dogs, pigs, cattle, horses, and animals of our environment”.
Scientist it is important to clarify the origin of SARS-CoV-2 given the fact that today, more and more infections to overcome the species barrier, we are talking about a group of diseases, called “zoonoses”. How does it happen? In China, experts say, it may be a consequence of business around wild animals – hunting, smuggling, trading.
“Climate change certainly has an impact, but not necessarily a major factor in the emergence of infectious diseases – said Pepin. – You need to take into account many factors: the practice of agriculture, irrigation, deforestation, the convergence of wildlife, ecotourism. The fact is that people are closely in contact with nature, it means that at some point we will encounter virus, which until now was restricted only to the animal world.”
So today we grapple with SARS-CoV-2, but over the next few decades, scientists can get research and his cousins – SARS-CoV-3, SARS-CoV-4 and so on. Professor Christian Griot confirms: “I think that may suddenly appear a huge number of viruses and Yes, then we can get them among people. 70% of new diseases passed from animals to people, many of them have had a serious impact on a person. So some new ones will be fatal.”
A way of dealing with emerging diseases – testing. Scientists say that it is necessary to gather more samples of viruses in a larger number of animals. This will allow you to get an accurate idea about the threats and to better prepare for possible pandemics in the future.