What's the Origin of Coronavirus and Why Haven't We Been Able to Eradicate It?

There are no absolute certainties about the origin of this coronavirus, nor about how it will be eradicated. If it doesn't behave differently from other similar viruses, it will most likely lose its potency, while scientists develop a drug capable of limiting it.
What's the Origin of Coronavirus and Why Haven't We Been Able to Eradicate It?

Last update: 09 June, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has made headlines in media around the world, especially in the last two months. However, many people are still unaware of the origin of coronavirus and don’t understand why it hasn’t been eradicated.

On the subject of the origin of the coronavirus, there are all sorts of theories often fed by false news circulating through social networks. There is talk of an ultra-secret plot, or a biochemical attack, or the fulfillment of prophecies. Naturally, with all of these rumors flying around, many people are very misinformed.

In the same way, there are also an infinite number of opinions as to why we haven’t been able to eradicate it. Some blame governments for their erratic decisions, while others simply say that we have to wait for science to come up with the necessary solutions.

What’s the origin of coronavirus?

The origin of the coronavirus is one of many areas where there are no absolute certainties. There are theories, some more evidence-based than others, but none are conclusive.

The first thing that needs to be clarified is that coronaviruses are a large family, and it isn’t the first time they have been transmitted to humans.

That said, the most accepted theory is that the current SARS-CoV-2 virus originated in bats and that they infected humans indirectly. Apparently, according to some, they transmitted it to the pangolins, and the pangolins, in turn, passed it on to humans. Pangolins are exotic animals that are traded for human consumption and medicinal purposes.

There’s also another theory that’s gaining strength. It says that bats were not involved, but that the virus was transmitted directly from the pangolins to humans. In fact, a team of scientists discovered two very similar coronaviruses to SARS-CoV-2 in these animals.

Many of the viruses that have struck mankind throughout history have come from animals. Therefore, the origin of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus is most likely zoonotic as well.

Could it have been made in a laboratory?

Of course, it could, but there’s no proof, only much conjecturing, and quite a few conspiracy theories.

A bat.
One of the most accepted theories is that SARS-CoV-2 originated in bats.

Coronavirus eradication

The truth is that humans have never been particularly effective in eradicating viruses. Since ancient times, man has fought great battles against viruses and bacteria. So far, however, smallpox and rinderpest are the only two diseases that have been completely eradicated.

The coronavirus is neither the first, nor the most deadly, of the viruses that have attacked humans. The danger of COVID-19 is not its lethality, but its high rate of contagion. The problem with this virus, or any other, is that it infects a large number of people at the same time. As we’ve seen, this means that health systems come under immense pressure, and can collapse.

Under ideal conditions (that’s to say, in a situation where all the people requiring special attention for this disease were properly cared for), then mortality would probably be less than 1%. However, under current conditions, the mortality rate may increase well above that percentage. This higher mortality rate isn’t because of the virus itself, but because of the impossibility of treating all serious cases.

Some hospital beds.
The problem of the coronavirus is its high rate of infection which can overwhelm health systems.

What about the future of the coronavirus?

Since the coronavirus infection has gone global, it will, most likely, not go away. Usually, all these viruses become more harmless over time, since their aim is not to kill the organism they penetrate. After all, they need that organism to keep multiplying.

Since the coronavirus is a new virus, there’s no certainty about how it will behave. If it follows the line of other similar viruses, then it will most likely gradually lose its power and adapt to humans. It’s also expected that the number of cases will decrease in the summer and that there’ll be a second wave of infections in the winter.

Meanwhile, many researchers around the world are working on antiviral drugs for SARS-CoV-2. What these drugs would do is limit the possibility of the virus multiplying in the body. Also, a vaccine for this disease could be ready within the next 10 to 18 months.

Learning to live together

After all virus epidemic outbreaks, mankind has had to learn to live with them. There comes a time when viral particles become part of the environment and the number of infections stabilizes. Apart from the origin of the coronavirus, which may or may not be deciphered, it’s critical for populations to chart a future course for the presence of SARS-CoV-2 among them.

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  • Briggs, H., & BBC. (2020, 27 marzo). Coronavirus: cómo se estrecha el cerco sobre el pangolín como probable transmisor del patógeno que causa el covid-19. Recuperado 5 abril, 2020, de https://www.bbc.com/mundo/noticias-52066430
  • Bonilla-Aldana, D. K., Villamil-Gómez, W. E., Rabaan, A. A., & Rodriguez-Morales, A. J. (2018). Una nueva zoonosis viral de preocupación global: COVID-19, enfermedad por coronavirus 2019. Iatreia.
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