Coronavirus: What Are the Origins of Covid-19?

Date: 2020-12-31 03:40:13


One year after the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, China, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation president Dr. Harvey Fineberg says the world needs to come together to respond to global threats like Covid-19.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that if we approach questions such as the origin of the virus from a scientific point of view, from a point of view of learning for the future, rather than casting blame for the past, we’re much more likely to gain the collaboration, cooperation and joint work that will be necessary to get to the bottom of the virus. So if we overly politicize the issue from the outset, if our purpose is to cast blame rather than to learn and to prepare better for the future, we handicap our own ability to do better the next time.”

But Dr. Fineberg says we may never know with certainty where SARS-CoV-2 came from.

“It’s hard to estimate how easy or difficult it may be to really nail down every aspect of SARS CoV-2. There could be additional investigation in animal species to show, for example, where the virus can thrive in bat species or others. There may be some further inquiries about the intermediate hosts and what may be carriers or intermediaries between humans and the species of actual origin. But at the moment, that’s still speculative. And it is not certain in my mind that we will get to the bottom with a high degree of confidence. We can learn from it and most importantly to me, is learning for the ability to predict, anticipate and interdict a future outbreak.”

Dr. Fineberg says that there will be many retrospective assessments.

“One thing we can be pretty certain is that there will be many retrospective assessments, official, unofficial, sanctioned, unsanctioned, global, national, all aspects of the SARS CoV-2 experience are going to be subject to intensive reflection and lessons gained. Those that are undertaken, already sponsored by the World Health Organization, have, as is typical, very broad representation of countries around the world, a wide spectrum of expertize being brought to bear on the questions. And they may yield very important lessons about the institutional approach, as well as about the problem more generally about emerging infection.”

Dr. Fineberg says there are critical lessons to be learned from the pandemic.

“Lesson number one is that preparation is much more than having a plan. A plan is necessary, but you actually have to have the needed equipment in place. You need to have the resources available, and you need to maintain a public health enterprise that is capable of protecting the public in the case of an outbreak or a pandemic. Number two, we have learned that we need to understand much more about the origin and nature of emerging infection. And we can undertake these studies. We can learn about the environments in which animals, humans interact in ways that promote the emergence of infection. And finally, we can learn that it’s a globally interdependent world when it comes to detecting and managing emerging infections. We have to work cooperatively around the world to rapidly detect and respond appropriately to these global threats.”

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