The origin of the corona virus which has killed more than 37 lakhs worldwide is not yet known. Most countries and epidemiologists blame China for the corona virus infection. They claim that this dangerous virus was disclosed by the Wuhan Institute of Virology located in the city of Wuhan in China. Former US President Donald Trump has repeatedly described Corona as a Chinese virus. Benoit Barbeau, associate professor at the University of Quebec Montreal (UQAM), located in Montreal, Canada, explained why most countries around the world still accuse China of being the source of Corona.
This virus has not been identified in any animal
Benoit Barbeau said that since the start of the Kovid-19 pandemic, there has been a lot of speculation about the origin of SARS-CoV-2. So far, none of these ideas have produced concrete results. It was said earlier that the virus had spread quickly due to Wuhan’s seafood market. However, that doesn’t make much sense now. Even after a year of intensive research, this virus has not been identified in any animal so far.
The infection has already spread from animals to humans
The hypothesis that explains the transmission of the virus from animals to humans is said to be the strongest to date: the coronavirus has passed from bats to humans via a third medium. It’s not even the first time this has happened. In the case of mars-cove (Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome), camels are considered a possible vector for its spread. Likewise, in the case of SARS-CoV-2, pangolins illegally sold in the Wuhan market may be the carrier, although more concrete evidence is needed to justify this idea.
I am a professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Quebec in Montreal, specialist in virology, in particular human retroviruses, and human coronaviruses. SARS-CoV-2 was reportedly accidentally leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIY), a high-security biological laboratory with a biosafety level 4, since the start of the pandemic.
Controversy over US funding request for a Chinese laboratory
This possibility has reappeared in recent weeks, embarrassing Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), with some newspapers claiming the United States is funding the research lab. studies related to the financing of projects. An idea published in the Wall Street Journal claims that this NIAID may have supported some of these experiments going on at WIY.
Experiences of benefits can have benefits, but there are also risks. So what is this gain of function or gain of function study? From a medical point of view, it is associated with research on viruses. The goal of gain-of-function research is to create a virus with new properties that make it more pathogenic or more transmissible to humans.
Viruses can change their own behavior
Traditionally, this type of transformation has focused on the growth of the virus in animal or human cells. Recently, there have been significant advances in animal models and molecular biology techniques to make precise and desired changes to viral genes. This process can quickly generate new viruses (unlike the natural evolution of viruses, which takes many years) that are better suited to humans and may change their ability to be transmitted between humans.
The rationale for this type of research is that by isolating these new viruses, researchers will be able to identify the specific changes in the genome that are responsible for the new characteristics. This knowledge could allow scientists to better predict the arrival of new pandemics. This could help scientists develop vaccines and treatments suitable for new infectious agents. However, the principle of gain-of-function research has been widely contested over the past decade.
Research by US and Japanese scientists on the virus has raised concerns
A frequently cited example that worries many scientists is Ron Fauchier and Yoshihiro Kawaoka’s research on the very dangerous avian influenza virus H5N1. Using a technique to transmit the virus multiple times from one environment to another, these researchers ultimately succeeded in creating an H5N1 influenza virus that could be transmitted by air to species.
BSL-4 created controversy
The study was widely debated and the research was eventually halted. The US government has also urged scientific journals not to publish the full results of this study, arguing that the information could be used by bioterrorists. Research resumed in 2013. Gain-of-function research has the potential to help prevent animal-to-human transmission of viruses with pandemic potential. However, this type of research must be performed in a highly secure laboratory, called BSL-4.
Why are there more chances of a Wuhan lab leak?
These laboratories are designed to protect staff and researchers from infection and to prevent further leakage. However, documents from U.S. Embassy officials showed that the biosafety standards at WIV’s BSL-4 lab were not stringent enough. In addition, several researchers have suggested that the institute’s gain-of-function study on bat coronaviruses was risky and could be harmful to humans if left out. This is the reason why the hypothesis of the origin of SARS-CoV-2 due to the leaks from the Wuhan laboratory is now taken seriously.
However, a WHO-formed committee that visited the Wuhan laboratory concluded that there appeared to be no evidence to support the human origin of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, with many leading scientists questioning whether it was during this visit. completely transparent. In an open letter published in May in Science, these scientists called for further investigation in this regard.