A Netflix documentary described how outbreaks like the coronavirus spread in live animal markets. Bill Gates warned it takes years to find a cure.
In November 2019, a Netflix ‘Explained’ series episode titled “The Next Pandemic” described how a virus like the coronavirus spreads in live animal markets like the one in Wuhan. In the episode, Bill Gates warned that it takes years to find a cure for a new form of virus outbreak.
The Netflix documentary explained that in wet markets in China, various live animals arrive and are killed on sight by vendors who then sell meat to consumers.
It described the wet markets in China as a disease X factory, explaining that it is easy for the virus to become mutate and spread to humans.
The documentary narration read:
This is a wet market in the Lianghua, China. Unlike markets in much of the West, where animals are already dead when they arrive, this wet market sells meat that’s very fresh.
It’s killed on sight. That’s what makes it a disease X factory. Many different animal species are stacked on top of each other, their blood and meat mixed, before being passed from human to human. All the while, their viruses are mixing and mutating, increasing the odds that one finds its way to humans.
The wet market is strikingly similar to the seafood market in Wuhan. It is said to be the place where the coronavirus outbreak first started and has since been shut down.
Scientists believe that the coronavirus (2019-nCoV) comes from snakes and bats. Both animals were sold live in the Wuhan seafood market, leaving humans vulnerable to the respiratory disease.
In prior incidents like the SARS outbreak in 2003, bats and civet cats infected humans with the SARS-CoV. After several people were infected, it then transferred from humans to humans, causing a pandemic.
“Back then, some wet markets in China sold wild animals like snakes, civet cats, and bats. And demand for them was high,” the documentary added.
The coronavirus is spreading rapidly and scientists across the globe are rushing to find a vaccine for it.
A group of virologists in Australia replicated the coronavirus outside of China to help with diagnosis and help with efficient testing.
Scientists in Hong Kong and China are also close to finding a vaccine and testing it for use.
Billionaire Bill Gates said that when a pandemic that the world has not seen before emerges, regardless of its size, people regret not investing more for vaccines.
If a disease comes along that we haven’t seen before, typically it would take four or five years to come up with a vaccine against that disease. And new technologies might shorten those times.
When a pandemic comes along of any size, we always look back and wish we invested more.
The coronavirus, with its roots in Wuhan’s seafood market, eerily replicates previous virus outbreaks like the SARS virus that was also caused by live animal markets.
The question remains on whether scientists and institutions should have invested more to prepare for potential outbreaks modeled after SARS, and if that could have lessened the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.
This article was edited by Samburaj Das.
Last modified: March 11, 2020 2:54 PM UTC