18 April 2020. Most coronaviruses are mild to moderate infections, but some types are severe and deadly. Lauring pointed to a study published March 17 in the journal Nature Medicine, which provided evidence against the idea that the virus was engineered in a lab. Can science 'prove' there's an afterlife? Related: The 12 deadliest viruses on Earth. And I was right. Once researchers got this new virus under the microscope, they confirmed that it was a virus in the same family as both PEDV and SARS — but it wasn't one they'd seen before. For this reason, it's really important to know which coronaviruses were being studied at WIV. "The increased farm factories disrupt the living niches of bats," she says, "thus increasing the contact chance between wildlife and domestic animals and the risk of diseases transmitted from wild animals.". Live Science senior writer Rachael Rettner contributed to this report. In that paper, which was published in 2015 in the journal Nature Medicine, they described how they had created a chimeric SARS-like virus out of the surface spike protein of a coronavirus found in horseshoe bats, called SHC014, and the backbone of a SARS virus that could be grown in mice. They found that 9.8 percent of horseshoe bats in Guangdong were hosts to a very similar virus that had likely mutated during the spillover. Stay up to date on the coronavirus outbreak by signing up to our newsletter today. The suspected patient zero, likewise, doesn't seem to be a Wuhan resident (https://www.scmp.com/news/china/society/article/3074991/coronavirus-chinas-first-confirmed-covid-19-case-traced-back ). Wain-Hobson emphasized the fact that this chimeric virus "grows remarkably well" in human cells, adding that "If the virus escaped, nobody could predict the trajectory," Nature News reported. She also looked for any mishandling of viral material used in any experiments, Scientific American reported. In a new study published by Nature on Wednesday, those researchers highlight the possibility of deadly coronavirus transmission from bats to domesticated animals and, in turn, to humans. Plot. NY 10036. SARS and MERS, on the other hand, are upper-respiratory infections. But scientists can start to rule out an idea that the pandemic-causing coronavirus was engineered in that lab or further created as a bioweapon. That knowledge, in turn, can inform prevention strategies. Netflix documentary says yes. (Here's where the life a disease researcher can get a bit unusual: the samples came from swabbing the butts of bats.) "I had not slept a wink for days.". The answer hangs upside-down and lives in caves: Bats. © Piglets suckling on a farm in Guangdong province in southeast China, where the virus struck. The immediate progenitor … We need to look at the bats they where using and what experiments they were up to. The Chinese virology institute at the centre of US allegations it may have been the source of the COVID-19 pandemic has three live strains of bat coronavirus on-site, but none match the new global contagion, its director has said. xPacifica /Getty Images The plot is made up of separate yet intertwining story lines revolving around three protagonists – Qiao Feng, Duan Yu and Xuzhu – who become sworn brothers in chapter 41. "This origin story is not currently supported at all by the available data," said Adam Lauring, an associate professor of microbiology, immunology and infectious diseases at the University of Michigan Medical School. Future US, Inc. 11 West 42nd Street, 15th Floor, Related: 28 devastating infectious diseases. Tell Me Another Story: The Book of Story Programs (English) (as Author) Wonder Stories: The Best Myths for Boys and Girls (English) (as Author) Bailey, Cyril, 1871-1957. "We have a strict regulatory regime and code of conduct of research, so we are confident.". "Thus, we propose that monitoring of SARS-CoV evolution at this and other sites should continue, as well as examination of human behavioral risk for infection and serological surveys of people, to determine if spillover is already occurring at these sites and to design intervention strategies to avoid future disease emergence," they wrote. hide caption. WIV was not immune to those concerns. When reports of the coronavirus first popped up in China, the U.S. Deputy National Security Advisor Matthew Pottinger reportedly suspected a potential link to China labs. "That really took a load off my mind," she told Scientific American. "Monitoring bat populations can help people to understand how viruses are transmitted and which regions are at high risk of bat-borne diseases," she says. But, he added, "the level of genome sequence divergence between SARS-CoV-2 and RaTG13 is equivalent to an average of 50 years (and at least 20 years) of evolutionary change." That study was met with some pushback from researchers who considered the risk of that kind of research to outweigh the benefits. Where did SARS-CoV-2 come from? New York, Related: 13 coronavirus myths busted by science. COVID-19 is a new disease, caused by a novel (or new) coronavirus that has not previously been seen in humans. In a lab dish, the chimeric coronavirus could infect and replicate in primary human airway cells; the virus also was able to infect lung cells in mice. When the newborn piglets first started getting sick in October 2016, farmers in China's Guangdong province suspected porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) — a disease they'd seen in the pigs before. Or, he added, an "inappropriate disposal of waste from the facility" could have infected humans directly or from a susceptible intermediary, such as a stray cat. By January 2017, the pigs stopped testing positive for that virus — but kept getting sick. "Since one can never say 100% for anything, I think we always need to be aware of all possibilities in order to contravene. Meanwhile, the lab at the center of these speculations had long been sounding the alarm about the risk of the SARS-like coronaviruses they studied to spawn a pandemic. So nice to read an article like this. At the beginning of February, Zhengli sent a note over WeChat to reassure her friends that there was no link, saying "I swear with my life, [the virus] has nothing to do with the lab," the South China Morning Post reported Feb. 6. And there are currently no vaccines against any coronavirus strains. Researchers tested the workers who had come in close contact with the infected pigs and were relieved to discover the virus was not transmissible to humans — this time. "Culling bats because of fears they carry dangerous viruses is not the way forward – and this can actually have the opposite effect and increase transmission risk," Anthony cautions. For example: some bats eat mosquitoes, which also carry dangerous viruses like malaria, yellow fever, chikungunya, Zika and more. Melody Schreiber (@m_scribe on Twitter) is a freelance journalist in Washington, D.C. The head of the lab's bat-coronavirus research, Shi Zhengli, published research on Nov. 30, 2017 in the journal PLOS Pathogens that traced the SARS coronavirus pandemic in 2003 to a single population of horseshoe bats in a remote cave in Yunnan province. The head of the lab at WIV, for her part, has emphatically denied any link to the institute. Moving forward, Shi recommends long-term surveillance for viruses in wildlife. And, at first, the tests did come back positive for PEDV. A single bat specimen may have had multiple strains. This constellation of changes makes it unlikely that it is the result of a laboratory 'escape,'" he said. The complex narrative switches from the initial perspective of … Simon Anthony is a virologist at Columbia University in New York City and lead author of a 2017 study on bats as a major animal reservoir for coronaviruses around the world. "It really comes down to what was in the lab," Greninger told Live Science. Animal coronaviruses rarely infect people and then spread between people. Furthermore, the notion that SARS-CoV-2 was genetically engineered is pure conspiracy, experts told Live Science, but it's still impossible to rule out the notion that Chinese scientists were studying a naturally-occurring coronavirus that subsequently "escaped" from the lab. At times Mr. Stoker almost succeeds in creating the sense of possibility in impossibility." On one farm in February 2017 alone, 64 percent of all newborn piglets died. he says. The WIV lab, along with researchers in the U.S. and Switzerland, showed in 2015 the scary-good capability of bat coronaviruses to thrive in human cells. The Story of China, written and presented by historian Michael Wood, explores the history of the world’s oldest continuous state, from the ancient past to the present day. It is a man-made virus created in the lab." OFFER: Save 45% on 'How It Works' 'All About Space' and 'All About History'! The Religion of Ancient Rome (English) (as Author) Bailey, Florence Merriam, 1863-1948. These questions have led some people to look elsewhere in the hunt for the virus's origin, and some have focused on the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV). Bats don't just spread SARS and MERS; they can also harbor diseases like Ebola, Hendra, Marburg and Nipah, a virus in Southeast Asia that also spilled over from bats to pigs and then moved on to humans. The four farms where the pigs were dying were located about 60 miles from Foshan — the place where severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), first emerged back in 2002. (That means that in the wild, it would take about 50 years for these viruses to evolve to be as different as they are.). An unprecedented amount of research has been focused solely on understanding the novel coronavirus that has taken nearly 150,000 lives across the globe. SARS is one such strain; another is MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome), which was discovered in Saudi Arabia in 2012 and has since killed 640 people. "The result of these experiments is a virus that is highly virulent in humans but is sufficiently different that it no longer resembles the original bat virus," Petrovsky said in a statement from the Australian Media Center. Although researchers will likely continue to sample and sequence coronaviruses in bats to determine the origin of SARS-CoV-2, "you can't answer this question through genomics alone," said Dr. Alex Greninger, an assistant professor in the Department of Laboratory Medicine and an assistant director of the Clinical Virology Laboratory at the University of Washington Medical Center. But once the farmers separated sick piglets and sows from the rest of the herd, the outbreak abated within a few months. Related: 20 of the worst epidemics and pandemics in history. They came up empty-handed, the Times reported. A team led by Shi Zheng-Li, a coronavirus specialist at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, reported on 23 January on bioRxiv that 2019-nCoV’s sequence was 96.2% similar to a bat … But then something strange happened. Incidentally, there is an article out that links bats from caves in Yunan province to the Wuhan lab. But the response to develop what is needed to respond, control and eliminate the outbreak remains the same.". Here's the murky origin story of the novel … It had infected the piglets during an outbreak of PEDV, and then it rapidly took over; by May 2017, more than 24,000 piglets had died. The researchers also noted that other SARS-like coronaviruses discovered in that cave used the ACE2 receptor to infect cells and could "replicate efficiently in primary human airway cells," they wrote. Sequencing of the Covid-19 genome has traced it to bats found in Yunnan's caves. In his novel, Koontz described “Wuhan-400” as “China’s most important and dangerous: new biological weapon in a decade”. China is not alone. As for what viruses were being studied at WIV, Zhengli says she did a thorough investigation. What is the CCP afraid of? Among the theories circulating: That SARS-CoV-2 arose naturally, after passing from bats to a secondary animal and then to humans; that it was deliberately engineered and then accidentally released by humans; or that researchers were studying a naturally-occurring virus that subsequently escaped from a high-security biolab, the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) in China. We assume that if this came from the lab, the lab knows about it. SARS-CoV-2 virus is a beta coronavirus, like MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV. And while scientists have gotten to know some of the most intimate details of the virus called SARS-CoV-2, one question has evaded any definitive answers — Where did the virus come from? These types of labs do spur concerns among some scientists who worry about the risks involved and the potential impact on public health if anything were to go wrong, Nature News reported. Researchers often find contaminating viruses in their model systems that they had no idea were there. In that Nature medicine study — one of the strongest rebukes of this idea — Kristian Andersen, an associate professor of immunology and microbiology at Scripps Research, and his colleagues analyzed the genome sequences of SARS-CoV-2 and coronaviruses in animals. "During interactions with scientists at the WIV laboratory, they noted the new lab has a serious shortage of appropriately trained technicians and investigators needed to safely operate this high-containment laboratory," the officials said in their cable dated to Jan. 19, 2018. How One Man Triggered A Deadly MERS Outbreak, A Taste For Pork Helped A Deadly Virus Jump To Humans. The Wuhan Institute of Virology (scientists pictured) did experiments on bats captured more in Yunnan. This lab at the Wuhan Institute of Virology is among just a handful of labs across the globe cleared to handle level 4 pathogens, which are the most dangerous viruses that pose a high risk of person-to-person transmission. Problem is, the earliest confirmed case was dated to December 1st and was far away from the actual labs (https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(20)30183-5/fulltext ). "Because the mutations are acquired randomly by selection, there is no signature of a human gene jockey, but this is clearly a virus still created by human intervention.". ", "They give us a head start by identifying viruses with the genetic prerequisites for human infection, and viruses in areas where the ecological conditions might facilitate spillover," he says. They found that a key part of SARS-CoV-2, the spike protein that the virus uses to attach to ACE2 receptors on the outsides of human cells, would almost certainly have emerged in nature and not as a lab creation. Live Science is part of Future US Inc, an international media group and leading digital publisher. In mid-January, according to a New York Times report, Pottinger asked intelligence agencies like the C.I.A., particularly individuals with expertise on Asia and weapons of mass destruction, to investigate this idea. "The timeline is fuzzy and I don't think we have real data to say when these things began, in large part because the data are being held back from inspection," Keusch told Live Science. The Wuhan lab does work with the closest known relative of SARS-CoV-2, which is a bat coronavirus called RaTG13, evolutionary virologist Edward Holmes, of the Charles Perkins Center and the Marie Bashir Institute for Infectious Diseases and Biosecurity at the University of Sydney, said in a statement from the Australian Media Center. I was pretty sure I wasn't going to get this kind of straight talk from the Washington press corps. The bats in caves nearby, however, likely still harbor the virus — and other unknown coronaviruses — and they're still flying over farms at night. That is the CDC needs full access to the level 2 and level 4 labs in Wuhan. For a limited time, you can take out a digital subscription to any of our best-selling science magazines for just $2.38 per month, or 45% off the standard price for the first three months.View Deal. Zhengli Shi, the principle investigator of emerging viruses at the Wuhan Institute of Virology and a co-author on the Nature report, says it appears that China is emerging as a hot spot for the detection of novel viruses. You will receive a verification email shortly. "It is very difficult to predict which virus will be the next to spill over into humans, and even harder to predict whether that virus will cause disease," he says. (SARS-CoV-2 would require a BSL-3 or higher, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.) Simon Anthony agrees, calling wildlife surveillance efforts to find viruses and analyze their potential for spreading to humans "critical. By In Guangdong province, the next step was finding out where the novel coronavirus had come from. He appeared in Black Bat Detective Mysteries (published by The Berryman Press), a short-lived pulp which saw six issues, all written by Murray Leinster (a pen-name of William Fitzgerald Jenkins), between 1933 and 1934. When she first was alerted to the viral outbreak in Wuhan on the night of Dec. 30, 2019, Zhengli immediately put her lab to work sequencing the genomes of SARS-CoV-2 from infected patients and comparing the results with records of coronavirus experiments in her lab. The first Black Bat. (Both SARS and SARS-CoV-2 use the ACE2 receptor as the entry point into cells.). In 2015, WIV became China's first lab to reach the highest level of bioresearch safety, or BSL-4, meaning the lab could host research on the world's most dangerous pathogens, such as Ebola and Marburg viruses. That's because it's impossible to definitively tell whether SARS-CoV-2 emerged from a lab or from nature based on genetics alone. The answer hangs upside-down and lives in caves: Bats. But predicting the next pandemic is tricky work. It was a brand-new disease. Related: 11 (sometimes) deadly diseases that hopped across species. Simon Wain-Hobson, a virologist at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, was one of those scientists. "It appears that the rate of new zoonotic disease emergence is increasing, but these events are still rare.". The most poignant and compelling story of the book is that of Bing – the author’s own mother, who sailed on the last ship to leave Shanghai in 1949, the General Gordon. These alphabet-soup viruses all belong to the same family: the coronavirus. Live Science contacted several experts, and the reality, they said, is that we may never know where this deadly coronavirus originated. My question is what in the whole fux scientists are doing working with these viruses in the first place. Just today (April 18), the vice director of WIV Zhiming Yuan CGTN, the Chinese state broadcaster, said "there is no way this virus came from us," NBC News reported. (Image credit: HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP via Getty Images), 'Magic mushrooms' grow in man's blood after injection with shroom tea, US life expectancy drops dramatically due to COVID-19, Hidden secrets revealed in microscopic images of ancient artifacts, Stash of late medieval gold coins discovered on a farm in Hungary, Orangutans and otters strike up darling friendship at Belgium zoo. "Dracula is highly sensational....An immense amount of energy, a certain degree of imaginative faculty, and many ingenious and gruesome details are there. Then there is the allegation of an accidental release of a natural virus from a lab. It is possible that they isolated a virus that they were unaware of. If that virus infected a staff member and that person then traveled to the nearby seafood market, the virus could have spread from there, he said. None of the bat viruses are close enough to the novel coronavirus to suggest that it jumped from bats to humans. Add to that the surge in factory farming, where thousands or even millions of animals live in tight quarters, and diseases can move through a herd swiftly. What's more, despite several proposed candidates, from snakes to pangolins to dogs, researchers have failed to find a clear "intermediate host" — an animal that would have served as a springboard for SARS-CoV-2 to jump from bats to humans. Viral Superspreader? While they do carry zoonotic viruses, they are critical for a well-balanced ecosystem. "No matter the origin, evolution in nature and spillover to humans, accidental release from a lab, or deliberate release or genetic manipulation of a pathogen in the lab the way you develop countermeasures is the same," Keusch told Live Science. In 2018, after scientist diplomats from the U.S. embassy in Beijing visited the WIV, they were so concerned by the lack of safety and management at the lab that the diplomats sent two official warnings back to the U.S. One of the official cables, obtained by The Washington Post, suggested that the lab's work on bat coronaviruses with the potential for human transmission could risk causing a new SARS-like pandemic, Post columnist Josh Rogin wrote. The story of how the novel coronavirus ... laboratory in Wuhan might have spread a deadly bat virus that had been collected for scientific study. "This analysis of coronavirus genome sequences from patients and from various animals suggests that the virus likely arose in an animal host and then may have undergone further changes once it transmitted and circulated in people," Lauring told Live Science. In Guangdong, the disease struck newborn piglets the hardest. Well that's becoming more obvious everyday. And British geneticists trace the earliest cases to September or October, based on the mutation level between different strains (https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8231753/Coronavirus-started-spreading-early-September-not-originated-Wuhan.html ). "Based on no data, but simply [a] likely scenario is that the virus went from bats to some mammalian species, currently unknown despite speculation, [and] spilled over to humans," said Gerald Keusch, associate director of the Boston University National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories. Though no scientists have come forth with even a speck of evidence that humans knowingly manipulated a virus using some sort of genetic engineering, a researcher at Flinders University in South Australia lays out another scenario that involves human intervention. They are particularly frightening because they are usually spread by coughing or sneezing; they're airborne, which means they can disseminate easily and quickly. Best article yet. To The Bat Cave In Guangdong province, the next step was finding out where the novel coronavirus had come from. Visit our corporate site. Piglets suckling on a farm in Guangdong province in southeast China, where the virus struck. That's why they scare virologists more than Ebola. Initial assessments conducted by the Chinese government pointed to the city's Huanan Seafood Market as the likely cause of a natural outbreak of SARS-CoV-2, a new coronavirus that causes Covid-19. The 2003 outbreak of SARS was eventually traced to horseshoe bats in a cave in the Yunnan province of China, confirmed by a 2017 paper published in the … Researchers began looking for another cause of the piglets' illness. Uncovering the natural source of the coronavirus will likely require large-scale sampling of animals—including bat and human populations—in China to trace the evolution of the novel coronavirus. However, Lauring said that based on the Nature Medicine paper, "the SARS-CoV-2 virus has some key differences in specific genes relative to previously identified coronaviruses — the ones a laboratory would be working with. In the public mind, the origin story of coronavirus seems well fixed: in late 2019 someone at the now world-famous Huanan seafood market in Wuhan was infected with a virus from an animal. Please refresh the page and try again. None of this can show the provenance of SARS-CoV-2. Researchers compared SADS to samples that had been taken the year before in nearby bat caves. The Chinese virology institute at the centre of US allegations it may have been the source of the COVID-19 pandemic has three live strains of bat … We need to get into those labs. That may rule out deliberate genetic engineering, but what about other scenarios that point to bats as the natural hosts, but WIV as the source of the outbreak? Please deactivate your ad blocker in order to see our subscription offer. Zhengli and her colleagues stressed the importance of monitoring and studying the SARS coronaviruses to help prevent another pandemic. The article clearly illustrates how the bat lady of Wuhan would have been able to gain the virus without making it look like gene manipulation. Anthony adds an important concern: "Bats are super important!" Though we may never get a definitive answer, at least in the near-term, some say it doesn't matter. Any country increasing agricultural intensification and land-use changes may also experience viral spillover and the rapid spread of new diseases. Jeanna Bryner - Live Science Editor-in-Chief The Chinese team, led by Wei Ji, a microbiologist at Peking University Health Science Center’s School of Basic Medical Sciences, set out to find the identity of this unknown intermediate host. Don't buy anything from china and don't let your 401k or pension fund invest in china. 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