We are approaching to complete two years since the pandemic began and Coronavirus is still boggling the human minds.
While a few countries may be worried about recurrence, vaccine procurement, mutation of the virus, most of the minds have one doubt in general: the origin of the virus.
Uncertainty tends to trouble humans and invigorate curiosity to know what lies ahead: the threats of more upcoming pandemics due to climate change or the one from a leaking virus.
Yes, there lies two hypotheses for a virus that killed millions, displaced lives and livelihoods across varying countries of the world.
To debate over the origins of Covid-19 is similar to unravelling the Earth’s deeper secrets without much access to the place concerned for digging. All we know for sure are the cases those got reported in Wuhan with A or B strain.
One school of thought is convinced that its Wuhan Institute of Virology, the one holding the largest repository of Coronavirus for research before the pandemic, is seemingly responsible for the leakage and the catastrophe.
It is even suspected that the Wuhan lab has been playing with plenty of Filoviruses, making them stronger along with few other labs in the world.
People have even been convinced highly of China gearing-up for biological warfare in its Wuhan lab.
While there exists another faction, that is so convinced of zoonotic spill-over theory i.e., probable transmission of the virus from Bat to Human due to their interactions or through an intermediary organism. For example: Pangolin in our case.
With the fast-changing climate, species including the microbes surviving in collab with organisms are looking for new ecosystems, as they cannot survive in their original ones and this leads to zoonosis, simply a disease originating from animals with a chance to be interacting with humans.
India’s Wuhan connection:
However, funded by the US Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), there was similar study going on in India even before the Pandemic came to fore.
The National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS) Bengaluru had been foraging deep forests of Nagaland to study the bat-to-human transmission of deadly viruses.
Just for us to be sure, the Nagaland-NCBS study had no truck with SARS-CoV-2.
Therefore, without explaining the need for an urgent investigation, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) announced a probe into the NCBS Nagaland study back in 2020 when the bat virus gained momentum.
ICMR has so far not made its findings public and closed papers state that “further work is necessary”.
Why the Scientific community has found no solution yet?
Upon greater pressure, WHO sent its team of experts to China’s city of Wuhan.
Though greater geopolitics and dearth of any concrete evidence (China’s closed doors to its own lab for foreign investigators) from when this all started and which strain invaded Wuhan first, has made this even a bigger mess than could have been if the world had actually been united against this deadly virus surpassing their respective selfish imperatives.
Its investigation for the origins of the virus, was rightly criticized for vehemently disregarding the lab-leak theory without an elaborate study.
It was however successful in finding some connections to the early-stages of pandemic and was wise enough to suggest further deeper studies for the next phase.
So, now the world is at crossroads; gear-up for further waves or strains or even new viruses while we know nothing of the recent one, so mitigation can better work.
A global-health researcher explains the conundrum: “The WHO is in a completely impossible position because they are being criticized for not holding China accountable, but they are given almost no tools to compel any country to cooperate”.
And “in that context, the WHO’s team has gotten a good look at a lot of data — but it can only get so far”.
Can we just expect the desperate World to pressurize China to conform to the requisites of a more elaborate and revealing research, because we Humans, just love a name, may be a scapegoat. Or just try to integrate China into the greater good. What now?
How has WHO decided to proceed?
In this scenario, amidst the public outcry, WHO has outlaid a future action plan. It involves clearing the air through all possible means.
To rule out or ascertain the possible animal-spillover theory, it has been marked important to undertake the extensive sampling of the animals supplied in Wuhan wet markets (including the infamous Huanan market) from southern China’s farms.
Even the workers from these animal-farms be checked for any traces of its ancestor virus form the pre-pandemic times.
A virologist from Sydney explains: “There was clearly a lot of transmission at the market. To me, looking at live-animal markets and animal farming should be the focus going forward.”
WHO Researchers, nevertheless, took samples from 188 animals belonging to 18 species being traded at the market and all of those at the time, tested negative.
Blood banks across the Chinese territory closer to Wuhan can tested for the presence of Covid back in 2019 when the people must have carried it’s antibodies in their veins.
Tracing the times when coronavirus might had been spreading under the radar within communities, evolving all along its way, and coincidentally occurring in people linked to the market, can be particularly of help in understanding its initial circulation.
Whatever WHO does, it needs to maintain its unbiased character and transparency for Experts worldwide to assess the data because inconclusive does not mean that it becomes impossible. Optimism is one of the biggest forces known on Earth.
For the WHO’s Director General remarked: “This report is a very important beginning, but it is not the end. We must continue to follow the science and leave no stone unturned as we do”.