What is the origin of Covid-19? The 4 theories we know

More than a year has passed since the coronavirus pandemic was declared and although there are clues, there are still there is no clear answer to the question: what is the origin of Covid-19?

World Health Organization experts and independent researchers are on his trail to the virus that transformed the world and to human relationships.

In 17 of the first cases in Wuhan, China, there are four theories about what is the origin of SARS-CoV-2?

What is the origin of Covid-19?

When a new virus is discovered it is important to understand where it comes from to:

Identify and isolate the fountain.
Prevent new introductions of the virus in the human population.
Understand the dynamics of the onset of the outbreak. Facilitate the development of therapies and vaccines.

Wuhan, the origin of everything

The first cases of Covid-19 in humans, the disease caused by SARS-CoV-2, were reported for the first time in the city of Wuhan, China, in December 2019.

A large proportion of the initial cases in late December 2019 and early January 2020 were directly related to Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market In this city.

One of the lines of research on what is the origin of Covid? targets this market where, according to traces, the virus was able to get out of there from an animal contagion vector to the humans.

Another possibility is that an infected human introduced the virus on the market and there it could have amplified with the environment.

In a March 2020 report, the WHO reported that all SARS-CoV-2 isolated in humans to date are closely genetically related to coronaviruses isolated in populations of bats, specifically, bats of the genus Rhinolophus.

See more information about this theory: The origin of Covid-19, from bats to humans through another animal: WHO

Analyzes of published genetic sequences further suggest that spread from an animal source to humans occurred during the last quarter of 2019.

The four hypotheses

A year after this report, the WHO released another document, a world study with new clues about the origin of the new coronavirus, in 120 pages with the title: WHO-convened Global Study of the Origins of SARS-CoV-2.

The international team suggests four different theories about what is the origin of Covid-19?

Zoonotic transmission direct to humans. Introduction through a intermediate host.
Introduction through cold food chain.
Introduction through a laboratory incident.


Laboratory theory resurfaces

This last theory continues to generate controversy, this time due to a letter published in the journal Science, which was signed by 18 scientists.

They point out that “theories of accidental release from a laboratory and zoonotic spread remain viable.

“Knowing how Covid-19 emerged is essential to inform global strategies to mitigate the risk of future outbreaks.”

The signatories question the joint study carried out by the WHO and China because, although there were no findings to clearly support any theory, the team assessed zoonotic spread as “likely to very likely”, while a laboratory incident as “extremely unlikely.”

Only 4 of the 313 pages of the report and its annexes addressed the possibility of a laboratory accident, underline the signatory scientists, among which stand out: the immunologist Akiko Iwasaki, of the Yale university; microbiologist David relman, of the Stanford University; and the epidemiologist Marc lipsitch, of the Harvard University.

“We must take hypotheses about indirect effects, both natural and laboratory, seriously until we have sufficient data.”

“An adequate investigation must be transparent, objective, based on data, that includes extensive experience, subject to independent supervision and managed in a responsible manner to minimize the impact of conflicts of interest ”.

SARS-Cov-2, the Chernobyl of the 21st century

The Covid-19 pandemic has infected almost 150 million people and has killed more than three million.

Is he “Chernobyl of the 21st century“, Not because a disease outbreak resembles a nuclear accident, but because it has clearly demonstrated the seriousness of the threat to our health, says the latest report from the Independent Panel for pandemic preparedness and response.

The 86-page text refers to the steps that were followed in WHO prior to the declaration of a pandemic.

“It is clear that the combination of bad strategic decisions, out of an unwillingness to address inequalities and a poorly coordinated system, created a toxic cocktail that has allowed the pandemic to turn into a catastrophic human crisis ”.

It is one of the conclusions of the latest report on the origin of Covid-19 and its impacts as a pandemic.

A complex investigation

On March 30 of this year the United States Department of State also issued a joint statement on the joint China-WHO study, which was also published by the governments of Australia, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Israel, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, the Republic of Korea, Slovenia and the United Kingdom.

This statement expresses concern “over the fact that the study by international experts on the origin of the SARS-CoV-2 virus has been considerably delayed and has not had access to complete and original data and samples. “

“It is essential that independent experts have full access to all human, animal and environmental data relevant to the investigation and personnel involved in the early stages of the outbreak that are relevant to determining how this pandemic arose.

“With all the data in hand, the international community can independently assess the origins of Covid-19, learn valuable lessons from this pandemic and prevent future devastating consequences of disease outbreaks ”.


The Independent Panel suggests that February 2020 was a “lost month” during which many countries were able to take steps to stop the spread of the virus.

“For this reason, the group of experts recommends that governments and the international community adopt without delay a set of reforms aimed at transforming the global pandemic preparedness, alert and response system, including the creation of a World Council to Combat Health Threatsas well as the establishment of a new global surveillance system based on “total transparency”.

This system would give WHO the power to immediately publish information on epidemics liable to become pandemics without requesting the approval of the countries.

The report also recommends rich countries to provide more than 2 billion doses of vaccines as of now and until mid-2022, at least 1 billion of them before September, to end the spread of Covid-19.

(With information from WHO, AFP, Science)

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