From the Wuhan market to Bill Gates, we will see what all those theories lack of: proofs. Let’s find out which are the most trustworthy ones.

The answer is still not that obvious.

First of all, let’s take a couple of steps back.

According to the World Health Organization, using “Coronavirus” while referring to the virus is not properly correct. In fact, the name of the disease is coronavirus disease (COVID-19), while the name of the virus itself is severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause mild to moderate upper-respiratory tract illnesses. However, three new coronaviruses have emerged from animal reservoirs over the past two decades. Causing serious and widespread illness and death. The most recent one is SARS-CoV-2 which generated COVID-19, which was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization on March 11, 2020. 

But, where does the SARS-CoV-2 come from?

Let’s start by understanding when the first case was registered. 

In the beginning, according to The Wall Street Journal, the patient 0 seemed to be the 57-year-old seafood merchant at Wuhan’s Huanan market, who started to feel sick on December 10, 2019. 

While the data analyzed by the South China Morning Post showed that the first case of Sars-Cov-2 was found in a 55-year-old individual from Hubei province in China, back to Nov. 17, 2019.

Unfortunately, Chinese doctors only realized they were dealing with a new disease in late December, even though at least 266 people were infected before that date.

A plausible alternative, suggested by the National Post, could  be that someone who already had COVID-19 went into the market, maybe didn’t cover their mouth when coughing and, all of a sudden, a bunch of other people got the new virus. 

There are some hypotheses that are more popular than some others, but I will not take the responsibility of telling you which one is the right one, since I don’t have any specific scientific knowledge of epidemiology and I based this article on research other people did. Indeed, you will decide, looking at the evidence, which one you want to believe. I will only help you identify the fake news.

Nevertheless, I have to say that this Pandemic was nothing unexpected, and some researchers as David Quammen “predicted” it simply studying the relationship between the human being and the way they exploited the environment. 

Quammen, in an article written in 2012 is claiming:

“Experts I’ve interviewed over the past six years generally agree that such a Next Big One is not only possible but probable. They agree that it will almost certainly be a zoonotic disease — one that emerges from wildlife — and that the causal agent will most likely be a virus. They agree that sheer human abundance, density, and interconnectedness make us highly vulnerable.”

It really seems like a prediction, isn’t it? No, it’s science. 

Now, let’s (finally) talk about the possible origins of this virus.

OPTION N. 1 ZOONOTIC VIRUS

Here as well we have to distinguish two possibilities.

A study published on Nature, suggests us that there are “two scenarios that can plausibly explain the origin of Sars-CoV-2: natural selection in an animal host before zoonotic (animal to human) transfer; and natural selection in humans following zoonotic transfer”

The first theory is the most common one, and bats are suspected as the original evolutionary source for the coronavirus that spilled over causing COVID-19 in humans.

Researchers have also found coronaviruses in pangolins that share genetic material with Sars-CoV-2, but we still don’t know if they took part in the game.

The second theory suggests that a progenitor (predecessor) to the virus somehow jumped from an animal species to a human, then mutated and adapted to its new host during a period of undetected human-to-human transmission. Then, after some years, the virus emerged naturally and became stronger through natural selection. 

These viruses are transmitted to us because we facilitate the mixing of diverse animal species, including live animal markets that sell wildlife, as well as other activities, such as keeping wild animals in sanctuaries or as pets.

Activities that increase our opportunity for animal-human interactions also likely facilitate zoonotic disease transmission, like hunters, laboratory workers, veterinarians, researchers, wildlife management, as well as zoo and sanctuary staff.

 “We are interacting with wild animals and disrupting the ecosystems they inhabit to an unprecedented degree”

Quammen says to explain how the pathogen got transmitted to humans.

Dr. Christian Walzer, executive director of the WCS Health Program, affirms  that:

“It is time to close live animal markets that trade in wildlife, strengthen efforts to combat trafficking of wild animals, and work to change dangerous wildlife consumption behaviours, especially in cities.”

OPTION N. 2: LABORATORY

Honestly, there is a possibility (I know, I didn’t believe it as well) that the virus could come from a laboratory.

But again, there are different theories and not all of them are trustable.

Donald Trump, on 30/04 claimed to have seen evidence that coronavirus originated at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. And a few days later he added:

“I don’t want to cast any dispersions [sic], I just will tell you that China would like to see sleepy Joe Biden” win the presidential election in November. “China doesn’t want to see me re-elected.” 

Mike Pompeo, U.S. Secretary of State affirmed that:

“We know that there is the Wuhan Institute of Virology just a handful of miles away from where the wet market was”

The institute Pompeo is talking about is the Wuhan Centre for Disease Control, 13 km away from the market.

Well, this seems more than obvious to be not supported by any fact. As explained in an article from the National Post:

“If you’re trying to unleash bio-war on the world, you usually don’t start by killing several thousand of your own people.”

 On the other hand, the U.S. and British intelligence are working on another theory.

It is also plausible that a Chinese laboratory was working on some natural coronaviruses and accidentally one of the researchers got infected, spreading the disease. 

We must have to admit that it would not be the first time this happened. For example, in 2014, labs connected to the U.S. Centres for Disease Control were accidentally exposing a bunch of researchers to anthrax, losing some vials of smallpox, and mailing out some mislabelled samples of superflu.

I need to say that there is no proof of that as of today, but still could remain an option to take into consideration.

Another fact we could look at is that, two years before, in January 2018, the U.S. Embassy in Beijing took the unusual step of repeatedly sending U.S. science diplomats to the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), which already was at one of the highest levels of international bioresearch safety.

What they found was that they actually didn’t have this high level of security, and proposed to help them. 

One of the authors of the Washington Post , cited different communications between the U.S. and the Wuhan laboratory, warning that the lab’s work on bat coronaviruses and their potential human transmission represented a risk of a new SARS-like pandemic.

To confute all of those theories, a team in California led by microbiology professor Kristian Andersen in a letter to Nature Medicine in March said that

“The genetic data irrefutably shows that [Covid-19] is not derived from any previously used virus backbone” 

Now, here it comes everything that I would classify as Fake News.

OPTION N. 3: CREATED BY…

Okay, I am going to include this just to clarify, but there is no evidence so far that this virus could have been created by someone in order to… in order to do what actually? Put humans in danger? Make money?

But let’s go in order.

After the virus spread, the billionaire, Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates has been accused by someone of creating and spreading it.

One of the “proofs” of this is that he gave, in 2015, a TED talk warning people of the potential devastation caused by a worldwide pandemic.

Another fact that could be considered at least as “curious” is the “Event 201”, an event organized a few months before the pandemic, by Gates himself, hosting high-profile medical professionals, business leaders, and government actors. A month later, the “high-level pandemic exercise” became reality.

Honestly, this is a peculiar coincidence, but it’s still a coincidence. Bill Gates is not stupid. Why would he warn people about it, preparing them? Seems weird to me, isn’t it?

OPTION N. 4: 5G 

For some of you it might seem obvious, but for sure not for everyone, seeing what’s happening around the world (well, it’s not their fault, in Russia propaganda against 5G is very strong).

There are at least two theories linking 5G and Covid-19.

One is suggesting to us that 5G networks cause Covid-19 or symptoms of the infection. Another one is that 5G networks emit radiation that weakens the immune system, making people more susceptible to infections in general.

To understand if these theories have any truth inside of them, we must understand what 5G is.

From researches, it is clear that radiofrequency waves given off by cell phones do not have enough energy to damage DNA directly or heat body tissues. 

5G networks began rolling out in cities and countries in 2018 but started to be adopted widely in 2019. The same year China saw the world’s first coronavirus outbreak. Please notice that those two are not one of the consequences of the other. 

Also, people started sharing pictures comparing zones where COVID-19 and 5G were the most spread and found out they were pretty much the same.

At this point we should also consider the fact that those places are mostly Metropolitan cities, so vulnerable to the spread of the coronavirus and, more likely to adopt 5G networks earlier.

Nevertheless, research coming from Harvard University, is showing how pollution (obviously more present in Metropolitan cities, and so in places where 5G networks are growing faster) is a relevant factor to consider when talking about deaths and recoveries caused by the virus. Only one microgram per cubic meter more PM2.5 (fine dust) in the air had a COVID-19 death rate that was 15 % higher.

“If you’re getting COVID, and you have been breathing polluted air, it’s really putting gasoline on a fire,”

said Francesca Dominici, the study’s senior author. 

Most importantly, Iran still has not rolled out 5G, and it’s one of the countries hit the most by the pandemic (even if we still don’t have precise data about it).

OPTION N. 5: GOD

Hilariously, one of the reasons why, according to some people, the pandemic is happening, are our sins against God (no, the plagues of Egypt are not back, chill). 

Let’s take for instance the Health Minister in Israel, Mr. Litzman who said that homosexuals caught the disease because of their “sins”.

Steven Andrew, a pastor of the USA Christian Church declared that:

“Obeying God protects the USA from diseases, such as the coronavirus.”

But there are not only two. Rick Wiles, a Florida minister and founder of a media outlet called TruNews, said that the virus is a “plague” sent by God to wipe out LGBTQ people and other sinners”.

And, if that wasn’t enough, he is now saying that coronavirus is God’s way of “dealing with people who oppose his son, Jesus Christ.” That is, Jews.

To wrap up, never believe what is told to you, not even the easiest thing, without having it proven 100%. 

In this case, we still can’t say that one of those theories has been confirmed so far, even though there are some that are clearly more supported by data, and some others that look like fantasy novels. 

Please keep yourself informed and trust only what science can prove.

Benedetta Stabile

Sources:

https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/technical-guidance/naming-the-coronavirus-disease-(covid-2019)-and-the-virus-that-causes-it

https://www.niaid.nih.gov/diseases-conditions/coronaviruses

https://www.wsj.com/articles/how-it-all-started-chinas-early-coronavirus-missteps-11583508932

https://www.scmp.com/news/china/society/article/3074991/coronavirus-chinas-first-confirmed-covid-19-case-traced-back

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41591-020-0820-9

https://www.treehugger.com/animals/where-did-new-coronavirus-COVID-19-come.html

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/apr/30/donald-trump-coronavirus-chinese-lab-claim

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/apr/30/donald-trump-coronavirus-chinese-lab-claim

https://www.lgbtqnation.com/2020/03/white-house-credentialed-pundit-says-god-sent-coronavirus-kill-jews/

https://pursuit.unimelb.edu.au/articles/don-t-blame-the-pangolin-or-any-other-animal-for-covid-19            

https://www.nature.com/articles/srep14830

https://www.nature.com/articles/srep14830

https://eu.usatoday.com/story/news/factcheck/2020/03/26/fact-check-bill-gates-backed-pandemic-exercise-didnt-predict-covid-19/5081854002/

https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/health-minister-tests-positive-covid-21828523

http://christiannewswire.com/news/107683567.html

https://edition.cnn.com/2020/04/08/tech/5g-coronavirus-conspiracy-theory-trnd/index.html

https://www.businessinsider.com/coronavirus-conspiracy-bill-gates-infowars-2020-4?IR=

https://nationalpost.com/news/why-covid-19-didnt-come-from-where-you-think-it-comes-from

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