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Humans Are At Fault For Coronavirus, Not Bats

Our ill practices continue to harm the planet, and us!

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We constantly see on social media a lot of fake news about COVID-19. A very popular one is how it started when someone from China had ‘bat soup’. However, the truth is far more complicated than that. So, let’s see the origins of Coronavirus, and how humans are at fault for it.

The origins of the Coronavirus

It’s simply wrong to say that a man ate bat soup and created a pandemic. That is a misleading definition of the origins of COVID-19 coronavirus (SARS-CoV2). The truth is a lot more complicated. As we all know, viruses always originate from other animals but eventually find a way to humans. Like, HIV came from monkeys, Influenza came from chickens and pigs, and Ebola came from bats. In the case of COVID-19, the origins were slightly unlikely. It jumped from bats to pangolins, and then to humans. Yes, pangolins. So how did it make this jump?

Humans Are At Fault For Coronavirus, Not Bats
Pangolins | Flickr

This is where the role of human beings plays the biggest part. Humans are at the centerpiece of the origin of coronavirus. Because COVID-19 did not make such an unlikely jump from one animal to another does not happen by coincidence.

What did humans do?

A wet market in Wuhan, a city from China, is the origin of coronavirus. In such wet markets, live animals are slaughtered and sold for their meat. However, it’s highly possible for viruses and diseases to move from one animal to another. As Peter Li, an expert on China’s animal trade, told Vox:

The cages are stacked one over another. Animals at the bottom are often soaked with all kinds of liquid. Animal excrement, pus, blood, whatever the liquid they are receiving from the animals above.

That’s how viruses jump from one species to another, and coronavirus is no different. If a human then consumes one of these infected animals, they can get sick. And if that disease is able to spread, then that causes an outbreak. But, that brings up the question – why is meat from such animals like pangolins and bats sold there in the first place? That brings us to China’s wildlife animal industry.

China’s wildlife industry

The Chinese government gave permission to private small farmers back in 1978 to breed and sell the meat of wild animals. This was because there was a massive famine, and the government was finding it hard to feed its then 900 million people. At first, it was just a small scale operation, but it grew over time. Moreover, the government introduced a wildlife protection act in 1989, terming the wild animals as a resource and protecting farmers.

Humans Are At Fault For Coronavirus, Not Bats 2
Wet Market in China | Wikimedia Commons

Those small farms turned into industries in a few years. This, however, increased the chances of any disease spreading. Moreover, as the size grew, so did the variety of animals, like tigers, peacocks, rhinos, turtles, bears, bats, and finally pangolins. This is how the SARS outbreak began in China, in another wet market in Guandong, China. And now, with the Coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan.

Moreover, ordinary Chinese citizens don’t even consume these exotic meats. Only the elites do. In fact, the pangolin is a delicacy among them. As Peter Li told Vox,

The majority of the people in China do not eat wildlife animals. Those who consume these wildlife animals are the rich and powerful. A small minority.

The wildlife industry had enormous lobbying capability, even though it was worth just 148 billion Yuan. And that is what kept it going after the SARS outbreak. However, things changed again to combat Coronavirus. This is because China again banned the consumption and trade of wild animals.

Humans are still at fault

Now that we know about the origin of coronavirus, we can see our own fault in it as human beings. It’s not wise to now blame some random person who ate a pangolin or bat soup, but to understand the system behind it. People must stop the consumption of exotic meats at all costs. Adding to that, we also need to improve our slaughtering practices for animals like goats, chickens, and cows too. For centuries humans have treated the planet as if it was a resource. That treatment has now given us disastrous climate change and now, the coronavirus. If we want to keep diseases like coronavirus away, we need to work on the origin and finish it. Therefore, it’s better if we leave animals like pangolins and bats in the wild, and let them be.

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