Coronaviruses come from a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to severe respiratory diseases. Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning the virus can transmit from animals to humans.
The novel COVID-19 has affected millions of lives around the world up to this time. While we do the minimum health standards required of us by the World Health Organization, it is also necessary that we need to know the origins behind this dreadful virus. Here is a brief history of how the Coronavirus began.
Two Outbreaks Before COVID-19
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been two coronavirus outbreaks. The first outbreak was the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV) in 2002. SARS-CoV was first present in civet cats, and it transmitted to humans. SARS cases totaled 8,098, with an 11 percent fatality rate in 17 countries. Most of the SARS cases reported were from Mainland China and Hong Kong.
The second outbreak was in the Middle East in 2012, known as the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV). This virus came from dromedary camels. As of 2020, there have been 2,500 cases of MERS-CoV with 860 deaths.
COVID-19 Origins In Wuhan
Most are aware that COVID-19 came from Wuhan, China. The virus most likely originated from Wuhan’s “wet market,” where vendors sell live cats, dogs, bat, rabbits, and fish. Most people who caught the virus had exposure to the Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan. Since all coronaviruses originated from animals, scientists initially found that bats may be the potential hosts for this novel strain of virus SARS-CoV-2.
However, there were no similar host samples from the wild animals at the Huanan Seafood Market. Some patients got infected by the virus but had no history of exposure to the said market. The scientists concluded that there are multiple sources of COVID-19, and it is still under dispute until today.
Rumors circulated that COVID-19 happened through genetic engineering. But according to Kristian Andersen, Ph.D., an associate professor at microbiology and immunology at Scripps Research Institute, “by comparing the available genome sequence data for known coronavirus strains, we can firmly determine that SARS-CoV-2 originated through natural processes.”
Symptoms And Transmission Of COVID-19
The first report and earliest symptoms were from December 1, 2019, and the outbreak of the virus happened in late December 2019 in Wuhan City, China. Symptoms of those infected with the virus include fever, dry cough, and malaise.
On December 31, 2019, Chinese authorities alerted the World Health Organization about the rapid spread of SARS-CoV-2. On January 12, 2020, WHO first termed the virus as nCoV and then officially named it as coronavirus disease 2019 or COVID-19.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, person-to-person contact may be the primary method of transmitting the virus. Transmission can occur when an infected person sneezes or coughs in front of you without covering their nose and mouth. Their respiratory droplet will stick to your clothing or skin.
Another means of transmission is when you touch someone infected on their skin or clothing, and you touched your face with your hands after. Researchers also found that a person can have COVID-19 infection even with no symptoms, which is also called asymptomatic.
Aside from human transmission, there are other means of contacting the virus. The National Institute of Health says that experts discovered that severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) was present for two to three days on stainless steel and plastic, 24 hours on cardboard, four hours on copper, and three hours in aerosols.
Be Informed Through History
COVID-19 is the fifth pandemic documented in history after the 1918 Spanish Flu. COVID-19 is not a common disease – its transmission is rapid, causing deaths of thousands to millions of people worldwide. In the light of recent events today, it is vital that we are fully informed about COVID-19.
History tells the sequence of events and the actions of our ancestors that led to our current situation. It’s truly vital that we study and learn from the past. If we know how the COVID-19 began, then we will be more cautious in the future to prevent committing the same mistakes again.