"An expert says there is more than one strain of this deadly virus."
Lots have been said about the COVID 19 virus originating from a secret biological laboratory in Wuhan where it was first detected and transmitted all over the world.
Even as the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared that there is no evidence supporting this theory, the same persists in a number of circles fueled by long-standing animosity against the Chinese government. It has since gained even more publicity when US President Donald Trump started lambasting the Chinese and, yes, WHO, for what he believes has been a grand conspiracy to hide the "truth" and divert attention away from the Chinese government's responsibility to its people and the world. He says it has failed to own up to its mistakes.
Even the calming voices of leaders of the G7 seeking a unified global action against the pandemic could not restrain Trump from his public criticism of China and its leadership. Notwithstanding the fact that more and more scientists and medical experts have said categorically that the facts and the evidence gathered, in and out of China, do not support the assertion of Trump and others riding on this issue. The more experts coming out to debunk the claim of Chinese liability, the more hardened their criticism has become to the point of endangering the stability of long-standing cooperative arrangements not only on global health and scientific endeavors and, of course, the fight against this pandemic but of the equally important unified efforts on economic, trade and related concerns.
This anti-Chinese thread has remained in place and in fact getting more virulent with Trump ramping up his attacks lately. Not only has it cost the WHO early on a good part of its funding support as the US President decided to withdraw further infusions claiming the agency has strayed from the course of supporting the global health and medical environment and has become a " stooge" of the Chinese. That other countries and groups have joined the fray skewering China and its leadership was not surprising. In the US, in particular, China has become a big item as the country heads towards the November elections with both Republicans and Democrats using the Chinese as straw figure in the increasingly heated battle for the hearts and minds of the American people. The charges have become so ridiculous that the attorney-general in one state aided by a number of politicians and wannabes charged the Chinese leadership in court asking for billions of dollars in damages.
Well, even as this highly charged assault on China headed by Trump and his adherents may potentially get shriller as the US elections nears the same may not be as welcome in other parts as the world opens up and the work of restarting economies and lives as we know it normalizes somehow. More importantly, there is now growing scientific evidence that this COVID-19 pandemic is not manmade and did not come from a broken piece of a secret laboratory in the bowels of Wuhan. The latest such study was issued by no less than a prominent and highly respected scientist from Oxford University who posited the view that this virus has long been with us, lurking and waiting for the right time to be activated with a deadliness never before experienced in recent memory.
In an exclusive story carried by the UK daily The Telegraph, Dr. Tom Jefferson, senior associate tutor at the Center for Evidence Based Medicine (CEBM) at Oxford and visiting professor at Newcastle University, said "there is growing evidence that the virus was elsewhere before it emerged in Asia." This is a significant finding which tends to support latest reports of a COVID-19 European strain considered as more virulent and transmittable than the one found in Wuhan last January.
As the report noted, this so-called "European flu" has gained credence with the discovery last week by Spanish scientists of traces of the disease in samples of waste water collected in March 2019, nine months before the coronavirus disease was seen in China. Before that, Italian scientists have also found evidence of coronavirus in sewage samples in Milan and Turin, in mid-December, many weeks before the first case was detected while experts have found traces in Brazil and November. We note that Spain, Italy and Brazil belong to the top ten countries with the most number of infections and deaths reported thus far. So as far as Doctor Jefferson is concerned, many viruses lie dormant throughout the globe and emerge when conditions are favorable. It also means they can vanish as quickly as they arrive.
Thus, he noted: "Where did SARS 1 go? It just disappeared. So we have to think about these things. We need to start researching the ecology of the virus, understanding how it originates and mutates..We maybe seeing a dormant virus that has been activated by environmental conditions."
Carrying on his assertion, the good doctor further stated that "there was a case in the Falkland Islands in early February. Now, where did that come from? There was a cruise ship that went from South Georgia to Buenos Aires, and the passengers were screened and then on day eight, when they started sailing towards the Wendell Sea, they got the first case. Was it in prepared food that was defrosted and activated. Strange things like this happened with Spanish flu. In 1918 around 30 percent of the population of Western Samoa died of Spanish flu and they hadn't had any communication with the outside world. the explanation for this could be that these agents don't come or go anywehre. They are always here and something ignites them, maybe human density or environmental conditions, and this is what we should be looking for."
Doctor Jefferson believes, the report noted, that the virus maybe transmitted through the sewage system or shared toilet facilities not just through droplets expelled by talking, coughing or sneezing. Which is why, in his view, so many outbreaks happen at food factories and meatpacking plants which have shared toilets and cool conditions which allow the virus to thrive.
Indeed, as the good doctor and fellow scientists are now saying there is a need for "a living review, extracting environmental conditions, the ecology of these viruses which have been understudied." So, as the world transits into easing up after the strictest of lockdowns there is need to cover all bases, so to speak, not just point a finger at China and the Chinese leadership to explain away our continued perplexity over the surges which have come about more than four months into the global lockdown. The earlier we come around doing so, the better we will be able to handle this continuing scourge.