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Scientist pinpoints source of pandemic and debunks conspiracy theories

Scientist pinpoints source of pandemic and debunks conspiracy theories

Evolutionary virologist, Professor Edward Holmes shines a light on the true origins of COVID-19, debunks conspiracy theories and explains how we can prevent another outbreak.

Scientist pinpoints source of pandemic and debunks conspiracy theories

Did the virus come from people eating bats? Not quite, says virologist

In an interview with the Australian Academy of Science, Professor Holmes explained the true origins of the virus. “We think the most likely animal that it would have started off in would have been bats,” he says.

Bats, he explains, are known to carry other coronaviruses and it is likely it jumped from a bat into another animal then passed on to a human.

This debunks the myth that people caught the virus from eating bats, but rather passed on through another animal in “some sort of market situation,” explains Professory Holmes.

Lab-grown virus: debunking conspiracy theories

 There are many conspiracy theories circulating around the virus, with the idea that it was grown in a lab a popular one.

Professor Holmes says when you look at the components of the virus, it is clear that is couldn’t have been man-made.

“I think there are a number of really clear reasons to believe this is not in any way a lab construct or lab escape,” he says. “The components…all the genes and bits, the proteins that make up the COVID-19 virus, they are all found in natural animal species.”

He goes on to explain that if someone wanted to engineer a coronavirus, it would be very easy to identify. “They would manipulate a standard laboratory strain and turn it into what they wanted. And that’s not what’s happened here,” he explains.

What we must do to prevent another outbreak

When it comes to preventing another outbreak, Professor Holmes says the simple thing we can do is reduce our exposure to wildlife.

“Particularly in these market situations, illegal wildlife trading, we have to build simple barriers by…closing these wet markets down, really stopping the trade in wildlife species,” he says.

“Anything that reduces the number the number of these and therefore reduces the exposure of humans to wildlife viruses must be a good thing.”

Australia must ramp up testing to get control of the virus

While physical distancing is key to reducing the number of cases in Australia, Professor Holmes says the country must increase the capacity of testing while we wait for a vaccine to be developed.

“We can really accurately track who has the virus and if we isolate them and we do that as frequently as we can, across a broad set of populations as we can, hopefully then we can track any chains of transmission and quickly close them down.”

Click here to watch the full interview with Professor Holmes

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