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Coronavirus was Millions of Years Old Before Infecting Humans

More than one year in the Covid-19 pandemic and there is still no clear information about the origin of coronavirus. Dr. Emilia Skirmuntt, who is an evolutionary virologist from Oxford University believes that this coronavirus is millions of years old before it was transmitted to humans and started this pandemic.

It means that the relatives of coronavirus were present in animals for millions of years and the virus is not new to the world. Coronavirus or SARS-CoV-2 is believed to transmit from animals after it was mutated but there is no evidence to support this link.

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The virus was first identified in China, more than one year ago in a local seafood market and it only took a few months to spread it all around the world and start a pandemic. It is deadly for humans and to this date, it has infected more than 110 million individuals, out of which 2.4 million people have lost their lives.

Dr. Emilia Skirmuntt is currently studying different viruses that are common in bats and is confident that a version of coronavirus was present in bats for millions of years. There are chances that it jumped from bats to another species which further transmitted it to humans. However, Dr. Skirmuntt says that direct transmission is also possible.

There is no information about patient zero and species zero in this pandemic and maybe there is no way to find out where and how did this virus jump to humans. Some experts believe pangolins are the culprit behind coronavirus transmission from animals to humans. But this possibility is very unlikely as pangolins are also affected by a coronavirus. The intermediate species is ideally an animal that is unaffected with its virulence, despite carrying the virus. And this sickness in pangolin makes them poor reservoirs for the viral particles.

The origin is still dubious and China shares the fair blame of trying to cover up everything for its own face-saving. It has also refused to deliver primary data and evidence to the World Health Organization research in January, and the team has returned empty-handed, finding no clue on viral source.

Dr. Skirmuntt has also mentioned another important thing that coronavirus needed a mutation to move to humans. It means the ancestors of coronavirus were not exactly the same as the virus which started this whole pandemic. The animal species acted as reservoirs for carrying the virus and with time, it developed some mutations which added up to its virulence, making it dangerous for humans.

So far, this sounds like the most logical and believable story on how coronavirus emerged in humans. But without finding evidence, it is only a theory with no practical value.

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In bats, coronavirus is harmless but it is transmissible to other animals as well as humans, just like the Nipah virus. Coronavirus has also been identified in pangolins but it is linked with causing sickness in them and it shouldn’t be the case if an animal is the potential reservoir of a virus.

Most virologists agree that the struggle to find patient zero is useless and no one can ever find that first patient. As most pandemics have set periods, there are chances that a time will come when most people will develop immunity against coronavirus and the pandemic will finally reach an end.

Areeba Hussain

The author is a fulltime medical and healthcare writer. She graduated in Medical Microbiology and Immunology with distinction. Her areas of prime interest are medicine, medical technology, disease awareness, and research analysis. Twitter @Areeba94789300

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