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    Scientists continue to work to solve the mystery of the corona virus

    Selasa, Desember 01, 2020, 13:52 WIB Last Updated 2020-12-01T06:52:46Z

    DAILY UMMAT ■ As scientists race to find a vaccine to tame the spread of a future coronavirus pandemic, a number of other researchers are no less busy investigating the past, trying to unravel one of the virus's greatest mysteries: where did it really come from?

    The World Health Organization (WHO) has formed an international team of 10 scientists to trace the origin of the virus. They must investigate the suspected animal and how the patient was first infected.

    "We want to know its origin and we will do everything to find out its origin," WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters.

    But the success of the research still doesn't guarantee the mystery will be solved.

    Coronavirus cases were first reported in Wuhan, China, a year ago, before countries around the world started recording growth in infections. The WHO says the first cases in Wuhan are believed to have occurred since early December.

    "But where an epidemic is first detected does not necessarily reflect where it started," he added in the November report.

    In recent months, researchers in various countries have suggested that cases may go unnoticed long before December 2019, based on analyzes of wastewater or blood samples.

    "But there is a lack of 'clear evidence' to support this claim," said Etienne Simon-Loriere, from the virology department at the Pasteur Institute in Paris.

    To create a virus family tree, researchers rely on genetic analysis.

    "This can help better understand transmission dynamics, particularly how viruses may have evolved over time and how clusters might be linked across time and place," the WHO said.

    Scientists agree that the disease originated in animals.

    "The big question is what made him jump on the humans," Etienne Simon-Loriere told AFP.

    "The suspicion has fallen on bats, which are the main reservoir for the coronavirus," he added.

    But there will likely be an intermediate animal to spread SARS-CoV-2 to humans.

    Pangolins - mammals subject to rampant regional wildlife smuggling - were identified as carriers early on, based on genetic analysis. But the case was not resolved.

    WHO investigators need to clarify this by investigating a wet market in Wuhan, which sells live and wild animals and has been linked to many early cases.

    Simon-Loriere said they could search for animals with a viral receptor, a protein called ACE2, similar to that found in humans. It is through these receptors that the virus attaches to cells.

    Some animals such as stoats and weasels have been found to have very similar receptors to humans, while others are very different.

    Another origin theory swirling in the conspiracy rumors for months is that the Wuhan Virology Institute was involved in the outbreak. Against a backdrop of diplomatic tensions, US President Donald Trump touted the idea, claiming the virus may have leaked from the biosafety lab. A claim that China has denied, of course.

    The WHO says it understands how the epidemic begins is critical to preventing further entry of the virus into the human population. But it has been warned that the process of tracking down how the disease jumps from animals is a puzzle that will take years to solve.

    "The introduction of a new virus into the human population is one of the greatest mysteries an epidemiologist can unravel," he said.

    The goal is to understand the mechanisms and implement measures to avoid the emergence of SARS-CoV-3, 4, and so on, Simon-Loriere said.

    For example, during the 2002 SARS epidemic, a ban on the consumption of civets - identified as the intermediate host of the coronavirus - was thought to help prevent the virus from re-entering humans.

    The UN health agency sent a predecessor team to Beijing in July to lay the groundwork for the investigation. But it remains unclear when the larger team will be able to travel to China to start its work. In late November, the WHO said it hoped to have a larger team of scientists in the field as soon as possible.

    The US accuses Beijing of not being transparent, they also say the WHO is prostrating itself to China and dragging its feet in investigating how the outbreak first started.

    Others have raised concerns that the agency may have allowed China to dictate the terms of an international investigation into the origins of the virus.

    Tedros told critics to stop "politicizing" the issue on Monday.