We are now more than three years on from the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, that was first detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan. The origin story of the virus remains a mystery to this day and one of the most hotly contested origin stories outside of any Marvel movie.  The science largely backs the zoonotic virus theory in that Covid-19 was transmitted from animals to humans. Covid-19 is not the first zoonotic virus that we have ever experienced by any means. According to the CDC, “Six out of every 10 infectious diseases in people are zoonotic, which makes it crucial that the nation strengthen its capabilities to prevent and respond to these diseases.” In reality, according to The Science Journal, “viruses are ubiquitous components of global ecosystems that regularly move between interacting species, but usually do not result in overt disease (1). Humans are also part of this viral ecosystem, and rather than being the end point of emergence, they can pass their viruses to other species (2).”

The World Health Organisation has been the world’s leading resource with regards to the Covid-19 virus, however some feel that their ongoing investigations into its origins have produced “more questions than answer” as we are no closer to definitively knowing its exact origins. Those who believe in the “natural” theory believe that Covid-19 emerged in bats and then spread to another animal, known as an “intermediary host” and then onto humans. This was initially the most plausible and widely believed origin theory towards the beginning of the pandemic, however three years on, not everyone is so sure. This is largely due to the fact that scientists have struggled to find the same vial genetic makeup in bats tested so far. That being said, this does not legitimize the other unfounded conspiracy theories that have also been prominent in the last three years.

Recently however, remarks made by FBI Director, Christopher Wray have brought the virus’ origin back into focus due to his advocacy that Covid-19 “most likely originated in a “Chinese government-controlled lab”. This is a highly political statement given the fractious relationships between China and the rest of the world as a result of the pandemic. The theory referred to by Wray is based on the notion that the coronavirus may have been transmitted (intentionally or accidentally) from a Wuhan-based laboratory known for studying coronaviruses in other species. And that once out in the open, it contaminated a wet-market in the vicinity that has been linked to a number of the initial outbreaks. This controversial hypothesis has been deemed a conspiracy theory by many, especially those who back the natural origin theory.

Either way, the ongoing investigation around the coronavirus responsible for the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent death toll is an important one, as it will inform our responses to such viral-borne crises in future and hopefully mitigate the exposure and resultant death toll the next time around.