Where does the coronavirus come from?
On December 31, 2019, the Chinese government issued an alert to the World Health Organization about a new illness that was spreading through the city of Wuhan.
Patients were coming down with a mysterious fever, dry cough, and pneumonia. Soon, some were dying. The source was a new virus, named SARS-CoV-2, and health officials were racing to find the source.
A leading hypothesis is that the virus emerged from animals at a popular market in Wuhan. This is not a surprise for many experts because it’s happened before.
In 2003, a virus very similar to SARS-CoV-2 emerged from a market in Foshan, China.
It caused the SARS disease, which spread to dozens of countries and killed nearly 800 people. As of March 6, SARS-CoV-2 has reached 83 countries and has killed more than 3,400 people, most of them in China.
The similarities between the two viruses raises the question: Why do new diseases keep emerging from China?
This episode of Vox Atlas examines the deeper issue of China’s wildlife trade and how it’s putting global health at risk.