Scientists Pinpoint 2 Causes Behind China’s Deadly Coronavirus – They’re Both Shocking

January 27, 2020 9:22 AM UTC
Scientists identified two possible root causes of Coronavirus: the consumption of wildlife such as bats in Wuhan and potential leak of virus.
  • Scientists narrowed down causes of Coronavirus to cross-species transmission of the pathogen from bats or snakes, and potential laboratory leak in Wuhan.
  • SARS and MERS were also said to have been caused by bats in 2004.
  • Hong Kong and China have declared a state of emergency as confirmed cases of the virus rapidly increase.

Scientists have identified two possible root causes of Coronavirus: the consumption of wildlife such as bats in Wuhan and the potential leak of the virus at a well-protected center.

Both Mers and SARS, two deadly respiratory diseases caused by Coronavirus, were also suspected to have been caused by bats.

Cause #1: Bat eating in Wuhan, 2019-nCoV found in snakes spreading Coronavirus

When the Coronavirus outbreak was first publicized, scientists theorized that the Coronavirus likely spread from bats to snakes, and eventually to humans.

The Wildlife Conservation Society said on January 23 that unregulated wild animal trading leaves areas vulnerable to virus spillover.

In recent weeks, Chinese influences and streamers were heavily criticized by the public for releasing videos of consuming bats.

Wang Mengyun, a Chinese celebrity, apologized after a video of her eating a fried bat in 2017 went viral.

Whether Coronavirus or other forms of the virus can be transferred to humans after being fried or exposed to high heat remains unclear.

Studies suggest that the virus is likely to have spread when managing live bats in the poorly regulated live animal market.

The Journal of Medical Virology said that the 2019-nCoV of snakes is likely to have caused cross-species transmission from snakes to humans.

The study read:

Our findings suggest that snake is the most probable wildlife animal reservoir for the 2019‐nCoV based on its RSCU bias resembling snake compared to other animals. Taken together, our results suggest that homologous recombination within the spike glycoprotein may contribute to cross‐species transmission from snake to humans.

Currently, scientists believe it is either bats, snakes, or both that led the deadly Coronavirus to spill in inexpertly run live animal markets in Wuhan and other parts of China.

nCoV in China that is suspected to be main cause of Coronavirus | Source: Journal of Medical Virology

Cause #2: Potential leak from a facility studying the virus

In 2017, China established the Wuhan National Biosafety Laboratory to study some of the world’s most powerful virus and pathogens.

At the time, New Jersey-based Rutgers University molecular biologist Richard Bright said that many things can go wrong with the laboratory.

He said that when testing pathogens on animals like monkeys, there is a possibility it can leak through various ways.

“These facilities are inherently dual use,” said Ebright, noting that the monkeys that are being tested could show volatile behavior.

He said:

They can run, they can scratch, they can bite.

Based on the development of the virus and the studies that have emerged in recent weeks, cross-species transmission from bats or snakes to humans is a more likely cause of the Coronavirus than a possible facility leak.

Scientists are reluctant towards completely dismissing a facility leak as a potential cause of the Coronavirus outbreak because of the SARS leak in 2004. Indeed, there’s increasing speculation that the Wuhan Institute of Virology may have inadvertently leaked the Coronavirus.

Both Hong Kong and China have declared a state of emergency over the Coronavirus outbreak as confirmed cases of the virus officially reached 2,700 as of January 27.

The Chinese economy and the stock market have trembled following the outbreak, causing significant instability in the country

Samburaj Das edited this article for If you see a breach of our Code of Ethics or find a factual, spelling, or grammar error, please contact us.

Last modified: January 28, 2020 1:42 PM UTC

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Financial analyst based in Seoul, South Korea. Contributing regularly to CCN and Forbes. I have covered the stock market and bitcoin since 2013. Joseph Young is a Trusted Journalist. Visit his MuckRack profile here. Reach him on Twitter or LinkedIn.