China's chief medical advisor DENIES the coronavirus originates in Wuhan as he blasts the claim as 'irresponsible'
A Beijing spokesperson said last week that the coronavirus might have been brought to Wuhan by the US military in a tweet.However in January, as the epidemic spread fast in China, the country's experts stated the source of the virus was wild animals sold at a seafood market in Wuhan.The push to question the origin of the disease contradicts China's own initial assessment about the source of the virus, which has now killed nearly 5,000 people worldwide.Gao Fu, head of China's Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said in January 'we now know the source of the virus is wild animals sold at the seafood market' in Wuhan.Chinese authorities themselves saw Wuhan and the rest of Hubei province as a threat as they placed the region of 56 million people under strict quarantine to contain the epidemic.But Beijing began sowing doubts in late February, when Zhong Nanshan, a respected expert affiliated with the National Health Commission, told reporters 'the epidemic first appeared in China, but didn't necessarily originate in China'.Scientists, however, have long suspected that the virus jumped from an animal at the Wuhan market to a human before spreading globally.The World Health Organization has said that while the exact path the virus took between its animal source and humans is still unclear, COVID-19 was 'unknown before the outbreak began in Wuhan, China, in December 2019'.Christl Donnelly, a professor of statistical epidemiology at Imperial College London, said genetic analysis of coronavirus samples collected from around the world showed a common ancestor in China.
Scientists have recreated a nearly exact replicate of the deadly flu virus that killed an estimated 50 million in the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic. But don’t worry, they say it’s totally safe.
But many scientists disagree and have condemned research that recreates virus’ such this, stating that if released accidentally, a virus could spread to humans and cause a pandemic. Marc Lipsitch, an epidemiologist at Harvard, has criticized research such as Kawaoka’s as unnecessarily risky.“There is a quantifiable possibility that these novel pathogens could be accidentally or deliberately released. Exacerbating the immunological vulnerability of human populations to PPPs is the potential for rapid global dissemination via ever-increasing human mobility,” Lipsitch said in a paper about experiments with transmissible virus’. “The dangers are not just hypothetical.”Lipsitch points out that many of the H1N1 flu outbreaks that have occurred between 1977 and 2009 were a result of a lab accident.Kawaoka disagrees, saying, “We maintain that it is better to know as much as possible about the risk posed by these viruses so we may be able to identify the risk when viruses with pandemic potential emerge, and have effective countermeasures on-hand or ready for development.”
Those who carried out the macaque study say yes, as a better understanding of how it acts in a system similar to humans' will help scientists treat future pandemics. The study was carried out in the biohazard level 4 labs of the Public Health Agency of Canada in Winnipeg. Yoshihiro Kawaoka of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and his colleagues infected macaques with the 1918 virus or a contemporary flu strain. Whereas the contemporary virus caused mild symptoms in the lungs, the 1918 flu spread quickly throughout the respiratory system and the monkeys died within days. The damage parallels reports of human patients in 1918.The team reports that the 1918 virus caused the monkeys' immune systems to go into overdrive, causing immune proteins to be expressed at abnormally high levels and attack the body — what immunologists call a cytokine storm.
Once the full sequence was in hand, other researchers set about reconstructing the 1918 virus. Virologist Peter Palese's team at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City stitched the eight genes into a regular flu virus genome and shipped the DNA to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia. There, virologist Terrence Tumpey inserted the DNA into cells to make live virus.
The work was a collaboration among scientists from CDC, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, and Southeast Poultry Research Laboratory.