In early December 2019, in the seafood market in Wuhan, central China, a fishmonger complained of acute lung pain. Without knowing it, she was infected with a virus still unknown to scientists … and very contagious. Two steps from its stand, on stalls, wild animals are sold illegally for consumption. Foxes, porcupines, snakes … and also pangolins, one of the most poached species in the world.
Preferred hypothesis: a new virus created by recombination
It is this small wild mammal that has so far concentrated the suspicions of scientists around the world. Was it he who acted as an intermediary to transmit a bat virus to humans? “The preferred hypothesis would be that of a recombination, explains virologist Mylène Ogliastro, director of research at INRAE (National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food and the Environment). So an exchange between parts of the bat virus genome with that of the pangolin, which recreates a new virus capable of infecting humans. “
Wuhan, “transport hub in the heart of China”
On January 1, 175,000 people leave Wuhan to celebrate the Chinese New Year in their families. The coronavirus is part of the journey … In one day, it spreads throughout China – before spreading far beyond borders. The city of Wuhan is home to branches of many multinationals, such as Honda, General Motors and Renault. Romain Lecler, professor of world politics at the University of Quebec, calls it “transport hub in the heart of China”. “When we look at the map of the international route of the virus, he explains, it is a map that almost exactly overlaps with the world’s air transportation map. “
“Foreign” virus for the Chinese government
The Chinese government has put forward the hypothesis that the coronavirus came from abroad, explains Arnauld Miguet, France Televisions correspondent in China. According to the spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, he arrived from the United States during the Military World Games in October 2019. The Chinese ambassadors to Japan speak of a Japanese virus. As for the Chinese ambassador to France, he wondered about the flu cases in France the previous winter …
Extract from “An elusive enemy?”, A report to see in the “Info evening: Coronavirus: state of emergency” offered by “Special Envoy” and “Further investigation” on April 2, 2020.