As it has become known, the World Health Organization (WHO) will investigate the possible origin of COVID-19. The bibliography is reviewed by the Professors of EKPA Dimitrios Paraskevi (Associate Professor of Epidemiology & Preventive Medicine, EKPA) and Thanos Dimopoulos (Professor of Therapy and Rector of EKPA).
The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced a plan to investigate the origin of the pandemic COVID-19. The study will begin in Wuhan - the city where the new coronavirus was first identified - and then spread to China and the rest of the world. Investigating the spread of the virus is important to prevent future animal transmission, but scientists say the WHO has an extremely difficult task.
Most scientists believe that the virus originated in bats, but the exact way it was transmitted to humans is unknown. Other coronaviruses have been transmitted to humans through a vector. For example, the SARS-CoV-1 virus that caused the 2002–04 epidemic most likely originated in raccoons or muskrats.
"Finding an animal with a SARS-CoV-2 infection is like looking for fleas in a haystack. "You can never find a bat or other animal with the virus," said Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at Columbia University in New York.
Investigating the origins of the virus can take years, and may lead nowhere, and should take into account transnational relations between China and the United States.
The US President calls the virus "the virus from China, while the Chinese government is trying to prove that it is not a virus from China," said Linfa Wang, a virologist at Duke Medical School - National University of Singapore in Singapore. The political responsibility game said critical details about the investigation into China had not been made public, said Wang, who was part of the WHO mission investigating the origins of SARS in China in 2003.
The investigation begins in Wuhan
An international team of epidemiologists, virologists and researchers with experience in public health, veterinary medicine and food hygiene will lead the WHO research on COVID-19.
The initial research will probably be conducted by researchers already in China, and the rest of the researchers will go to China after first examining the initial results.
In Wuhan, researchers will carefully investigate the Huanan fresh meat market, which many of the first incidents visited COVID-19. The exact role of this market in the spread of the virus remains unknown.
Early investigations took a sample of frozen animals slaughtered on the market, but no evidence of SARS-CoV-2 was found. However, a virus was detected in sewage samples. "Preliminary studies have not yielded results that could limit the scope of the research," the report said.
The WHO mission will investigate wildlife and animals on farms sold in the market, such as foxes, raccoons and deer. They will also investigate other markets in Wuhan, and trace the origins of animals passing through China. Researchers will prioritize animals that can be infected with the virus, such as cats and mink.
The team will also look at Wuhan hospital records to find out if the virus had spread as early as December 2019. The researchers will interview the first people diagnosed with COVID-19, to identify exposed and test samples for the presence of antibodies collected by health professionals, laboratory technicians and farmers weeks and months before December 2019.
Initial research in Wuhan will provide evidence for long-term studies on the origins of the pandemic, which could lead beyond China. "The location of the pandemic for the first time does not necessarily reflect where it started," the WHO report said.
Many experts believe that the direct source of SARS-CoV-2 is more likely to be bats outside China, Wang said. Considers that the WHO team should investigate bats and other wildlife throughout Southeast Asia for antibodies to SARS-CoV-2.
The research should also give priority to mammals bred for their fur, such as raccoons and muskrats, which played a key role in the SARS epidemic in 2002. "It is surprising that these animals are not mentioned in the report and "We have no information from China as to whether these animals have been tested," said Martin Beer, a virologist at the Federal Research Institute for Animal Health in Riems, Germany.
A WHO spokesman said the mission would be science-led, and would investigate any possible hypotheses that could answer or reduce the chances of the virus coming to fruition.