Coronavirus Disease 2019 or COVID-19, is a new type of viral pneumonia that originated in Central China in a city called Wuhan. According to most doctors and scientists, the disease was transmitted from a bat to a a pangolin before being transmitted to a human. However, this is almost impossible in the wild, as bats live high up in tree tops while pangolins live mainly on the ground which makes it is very rare for them to come into contact.
In the 1970’s, China faced a huge famine. As the food industry was limping back to normal, big companies dominated all major animal meats like pork, beef, chicken, etc. Thus poor peasants had to catch and sell wild animals to make ends meet. In 1988, China passed a wildlife protection act which encouraged domestication and breeding of wild animals. Also, China told the peasants to make ends meet in whatever way they saw
This encouragement of wildlife meat consumption increased until endangered species like tigers, rhinos pangolins, etc were also added into the industry, promoted as medicines and tonics. These were sold in China’s wet markets. Cages were stacked on top of one another, and the animal at the bottom would receive urine, blood and other secretions form the animals above. Since both bats and pangolins are sold in the Wuhan wet market where the disease supposedly originated, there is a high chance that this is how the virus was transmitted from a bat to a pangolin to a human, that is, a buyer or seller or of the animal.
After the outbreak of the virus, China banned wildlife trade. They had done this earlier when the SARS virus originated in southern China, but the ban was reversed a few months later. People are now demanding a permanent ban on wildlife trade. China is also supposedly amending the act which encouraged the trade in the first place. If serious action isn’t taken and wildlife trade isn’t banned permanently, then pandemics like COVID-19 and SARS will be expected.