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How Did the Coronavirus Start

By Alhaji Mohamed Wusha-Conteh 28 April 2020 updated 10:00

Police tape blocks off Wuhan’s Huanan market, linked to several of China’s first coronavirus patients. Scientists are trying hard to determine how Covid-19 started, where it came from and how it spread to humans.

In the public mind, the origin story of coronavirus seems well fixed: in late 2019 someone at the now world-famous Huanan seafood market in Wuhan was infected with a virus from an animal.

The rest is part of an awful history still in the making, with Covid-19 spreading from that first cluster in the capital of China’s Hubei province to a pandemic that has killed about 211,000 people so far.

Stock footage of pangolins – a scaly mammal that looks like an anteater – have made it on to news bulletins, suggesting this animal was the staging post for the virus before it spread to humans.

But there is uncertainty about several aspects of the Covid-19 origin story that scientists are trying hard to unravel, including which species passed it to a human. They’re trying hard because knowing how a pandemic starts is a key to stopping the next one.