The coronavirus pandemic has changed our day-to-day life as we know it – but how did the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) arise in the first place?
Coronaviruses are common amongst almost all vertebrates. Previously, these viruses, have “jumped” from one species to humans (such as in the SARS and MERS outbreaks). The abovementioned diseases have been linked to coronavirus strains associated with bats specifically. SARS-CoV-2 is no different in this respect, Professor Ben tenOever tells Technology Networks.
However, upon genetic analysis of SARS-CoV-2, researchers soon discovered that bats were likely not the only animal involved. SARS-CoV-2 also has genetic similarities to coronaviruses found in pangolins; at some point before the first case of COVID-19 in November 2019, a bat coronavirus and a pangolin coronavirus exchanged genetic information, or as tenOever puts it, had “virus sex”, which gave birth to the novel strain – SARS-CoV-2. At the moment, this seems to be the most plausible explanation that science can give us.
Nevertheless, alternative theories have inevitably cropped up. These include suggestions that somehow 5G is responsible or that the virus was man-made, both of which have been thoroughly debunked by experts.
In the video below, tenOever explains why these theories aren’t plausible, going into more detail about the natural events that are likely behind the rise of SARS-CoV-2.
Take a look at our Exploring the Coronavirus Pandemic interview series to discover more expert insights relating to the COVID-19 outbreak.
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