COVID-19 is now officially declared a global pandemic. It is an outbreak of respiratory illness that is caused by SARS-CoV-2. According to recent reports, there are 885,631 confirmed COVID-19 cases worldwide. China has borne the COVID-19 burnt. There are 81,554 confirmed cases and 3312 deaths due to COVID-19. This highly contagious virus has spread to 203 countries and territories of the world.
The novel coronavirus outbreak cuts through income barriers and hit unexpected places and individuals. The wife of the Canadian prime minister has tested positive for novel coronavirus. The Italian chief of army staff has also tested positive. An adviser to the Supreme Leader of Iran has died of the novel coronavirus. Among other famous people, Tom Hanks and his wife, Rita Wilson has also tested positive.
German Chancellor, Angella Merkel has given a warning that more than 70 percent of Germany’s population could contract the virus. Stockmarket around the globe has seen an unprecedented decline since the COVID-19 outbreak.
A lot of explanations regarding the origin of the coronavirus have been advanced. Public health officials want to know the source of SARS-CoV-2 to prevent new outbreaks. A lot of conspiracy assumptions and rumors are also making the rounds. The question boils down to the point, was this virus is made in a laboratory and it is being used as a biological weapon for containing the formidable Chinese economic predominance?
A related question is if this virus was made purposefully in the lab or did this laboratory-made virus accidentally escape the laboratory. This laboratory escape theory is the more widely accepted conspiracy assumption so far. It has been circulating on social media and gained a considerable following.
A social scientist, Steven Mosher summarized why he believes this virus may have been spread accidentally by the Chinese National Biosafety Laboratory at the Wuhan Institute of Virology where scientists have studied bat coronaviruses. Mosher says that this lab is less than 10 miles away from the seafood market where the majority of COVID-19 cases were first discovered.
Mosher says this lab is located in Wuhan at the Institute of Virology, where harmful pathogens were purportedly stored and looked at as potential biological weapons.
There were reports that the SARS-CoV virus escaped from Chinese virology labs in the 2003 SARS outbreak. He says that the visit of Chinese bioweapons expert and virologist Major General Chen Wei to the Wuhan Institute of Virology with military researchers in January was actually an exercise in damage control.
But there are many scholarly references and evidence which suggest that it was not made in the laboratory. Even if the exact source of the virus is not known yet, this originally came from wildlife.
An analysis of novel coronavirus by researchers at the Institute of Virology at Wuhan, suggests that the genome of SARS-CoV-2 is 96 percent similar to that coronavirus found in bats. Transmission from an animal, with no genetic manipulation or lab experiment, suits more with what researchers know about other coronaviruses that how they have made the jump to human beings. According to some, it was transmitted from bats to civets then to humans.
The civet version of coronavirus was almost 99.8 similar to that found in humans, much more similar than the bat and human varieties of the novel coronavirus. So, the researchers believe that novel coronavirus has infected another type of animal as an intermediate on its way to humans from bats but they have not found any candidate so far.
In addition to the claim of lab escape by mistake, some conspiracy theories are saying that it was genetically engineered. Researchers throughout the world, including China, have conducted research involving the development of experimentally engineered coronaviruses hybrid, but there is no evidence. It is claimed if it was engineered, researchers would see additional genetic material or mutation in its genome, which is not actually the case.
In a nutshell, the odds are highly in favor that SARS-CoV-2 has jumped from the animals to humans. The most compelling point for believing that it is not human-made is that novel coronavirus closely resembles two previous viruses that triggered outbreaks in recent decades, SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV. All three viruses apparently originated in bats.