I wrote detailed information on Origin of Corona Virus.
At First, we have to know how they identified Wuhan to be the Ground Zero of the disease. Out of the 40 something patients that had been diagnosed with the disease, more than 25 people had been at a food market in Wuhan. A place where novelty animals (read: wild animals) are butchered and sold as food.
If you see these food markets, you’ll find that the animals are kept in the most derogatory conditions. To utilize as much space possible to store more animals, cages would be placed on top of one another, meaning the animals living at the bottom cages, would have excrement, puss, and sometimes blood, fall from the animals living on the top, fall on them. So you can see how easily an infected animal can spread the virus to other animals.
But how come a virus, that infects wild animals, start affecting humans?
Though viruses are famous for their ability to jump between one host to another, unless two different species come in close contact with one another, the virus will primarily affect the original host. Meaning, coronaviruses would primarily infect bats, and not humans. Only after humans started consumption of bats, did the virus manage to break the species barrier, and start infecting humans as well.
But why did humans start consumption of bats?
In 1970s, having suffered the Great Chinese Famine (that caused millions of Chinese to die out of starvation), authorities who administer the government of China proposed a unique solution:
Do anything legal possible to bring yourselves out of poverty and hunger
To the poverty stricken people in China, that meant they could hunt for wild animals to sustain themselves, instead of having to buy poultry from large corporations that sold these. These were animals like snakes and turtles, later on bats. Through various laws and bills, domestication of these wild animals were encouraged, because they wanted to increase the productivity of people. This led to more and more wild animals being engaged in this economic activity. Now, every wild animal has their own virus that could infect them. Such viruses are called animal virus. Some of these can only infect cats, others can infect bees, seals, dogs etc.
And so, when you have a government that supported the sales of wildlife for meat (because the wildlife were labelled as ‘natural resources of the state that could be used for increasing productivity of the country’), you are essentially creating a wet market (where animals are slaughtered for food) that is a bank of viruses, waiting to jump from one host to another.
That’s how SARS came, that’s how Ebola viruses came, that’s how Coronaviruses came. That’s how future viruses could affect humans. As of now, there are more than 200 different kinds of virus that can affect human beings.
The source of the outbreak has been identified to be the Huanan Wholesale Seafood Market in Wuhan. Prof. Zhong Nanshan, who was the first Chinese scientist to discover the SARS virus, found out recently that the new virus most likely came from wild animals.
That’s right. Wild animals…again. If you remember anything from the SARS epidemic of 2003 at all, you’d probably be rolling your eyes and groaning, as I am right now.
Chinese people with a taste for more exotic meats, caught a bad case of the plague from chowing down on some endangered species (because chicken isn’t good enough for some people), and made it everybody’s problem, for the second time since the 2000s. We haven’t learnt a damn thing since SARS. The government still hasn’t outlawed the consumption of wild game, and their go-to response for any sort of outbreak is still cover-ups and censorship, because if a man dies in public and no one talks about it, it never happened.
(Price list at the Huanan Wholesale Seafood Market. A live peacock only costs 500 Yuan! Yum! Oh, and what’s that? Wolf cub meat for ¥2,045? Meh, too pricey.)