What is the Coronavirus?
COVID-19 is spreading, changing our daily lives and pushing us into our “new normal”: stuck at home keeping away from the possibility of contracting the virus. But how did this virus start, where did it come from, and what exactly is this virus that has frozen our world?
The disease is caused by a new coronavirus, first discovered in Wuhan, China, and has been named SARS-CoV-2. Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that attack the respiratory symptoms of mammals. As reported by Science Daily, the journal “Nature Medicine” has published findings that the virus did indeed rise from natural evolution and was not man-made.
According to Medical News Today, although the virus was at first believed to have originated from the Huanan Seafood Wholesale wet market in Wuhan, China, further research and discovery of early cases now show otherwise. The exact place where the virus was first transmitted to humans is unknown, although the first serious outbreak was recorded in Wuhan, which is why it was at first believed to be ground zero for the disease.
Many coronaviruses only affect animals but like in previous coronavirus diseases such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome (MERS), animals infected humans with the virus. USA Today reports that gene sequencing analysis suggest the virus came from bats. Humans were not infected by bats though, rather, the analysis points to another species that contracted the virus from bats, and then passed it on to humans. Genome sequence testing currently points to the pangolin, an animal also called the “scaly anteater” due to its appearance, as the culprit in spreading the disease from bats to humans.
(Story may be updated to reflect new information regarding origin, spread, and eradication.)