As scientists find more animal coronaviruses, they can recognize more and more fragments of SARS-CoV-2 spread in them. Researchers have also been able to reconstruct some of the evolutionary steps by which SARS-CoV-2 Developed In a possible human pathogen, while it was still infecting animals.
This pattern is probably one followed by many viruses which are now a major burden on human health. HIV, for example, most likely occurred in the early 1900s, when hunters in West Africa became infected with viruses that infected chimpanzees and other primates.
But some scientists thought it was too early to conclude that something similar had happened in the case of SARS-CoV-2. Eventually, the coronavirus first appeared in the city of Wuhan, home to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, where researchers studied dozens of strains of coronaviruses collected in caves in southern China.
Nevertheless, a top laboratory studying this family of viruses is located in the same city where the epidemic emerged, it may be a coincidence. Wuhan is an urban center larger than New York City, with a steady influx of visitors from other parts of China. It has several large markets that deal in wildlife brought in from all over China and beyond. When wild animals are kept nearby, the virus has the opportunity to jump from species to species, sometimes resulting in dangerous recombinations that can give rise to new diseases.
Research from that lab began in 2002 due to another coronavirus causing SARS epidemic. Researchers soon found relatives of the virus called SARS-CoV in bats as well as civet cats, which are sold in Chinese markets. This discovery opened the eyes of scientists to all animals coronavirus, which had the potential to spread across the line of species and start a new epidemic.
Virologists can take a number of measures to reduce the risk of becoming infected with the virus they have studied. But over the years, there have been some accidents. Researchers have become ill, and have infected others with their experimental viruses.
in 2004For example, a researcher at the National Institute of Virology in Beijing became infected with the coronavirus that causes SARS. He passed it on to others, including his mother, who died of the infection.