A year of the virus

By Isabel Saco

Geneva, Dec 29 (efe-epa).- The hypotheses on the origins of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus have shifted and changed in the year since the outbreak was first detected, but scientists have yet to land on a definitive answer.

There are increasing warnings from the scientific community, however, that the public should not begin to underestimate the continued danger posed by the virus even with the advent of the first vaccines.

On the last day of 2019, the World Health Organization’s office in China published a declaration on the website of Wuhan’s municipal health commission informing of the emergence of a new form of viral pneumonia in the city. The report was taken to higher authorities.

The following day, the WHO asked the Chinese government for information and started to sound the alarm. Two days later, the Chinese government confirmed the flagged cases, stating the cause was unknown. That information was then published on the WHO’s system on 5 January, thus being made available to all of the body’s 194 member states.


This was the start of what would very soon become the Covid-19 pandemic, a disease caused by a coronavirus of obscure origin. At the time, human to human transmission had yet to be confirmed.

With its emergence came speculation, with some claiming the virus had been manufactured at the Wuhan Institute of Virology from where it had escaped or, worse still, had been intentionally released, something scientists studying the virus have ruled out.

One such expert is David Robertson, Head of bioinformatics at the Medical Research Council-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research in the United Kingdom.

“If the virus had been humanmade, that would show in its genome. Besides, if you were going to create a coronavirus that can be transmitted by humans, you would almost certainly start with the first SARS virus. SARS-CoV-2 is like nothing we have seen before,” he says.

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