COVID-19 origin tracing: Is the U.S. prone to rely on politics or science?

2021-08-20 Editor : Zhang Dongfang ECNS App Download
A blood sample of a U.S. white-tailed deer collected in 2019 carries SARS-CoV-2 antibodies. (Photo/Xinhua)

A blood sample of a U.S. white-tailed deer collected in 2019 carries SARS-CoV-2 antibodies. (Photo/Xinhua)

Special: Commentary

By John Lee

(ECNS) -- A study conducted by researchers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has detected SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in a blood sample of a U.S. white-tailed deer collected in 2019. It means the wild U.S. deer was exposed to the coronavirus as early as in 2019, thus pushing forward the timeline of Covid-19 origin tracing.

Researchers also analyzed blood samples taken from 385 white-tailed deer from Pennsylvania, Michigan, Illinois, and New York from January to March, 2021. Nearly 40 percent of them were found carrying SARS-CoV-2 antibodies. The study proves that white-tailed deer in these populations have been infected with the coronavirus on a large scale. The USDA claimed it didn't know how the deer were exposed to the virus.

The USDA says that the single outlier in 2019's samples was almost certainly a false positive since it had a very low level of antibodies. However, researchers used a SARS-CoV-2 antibody screening test that has been highly accurate with other species. The USDA also helped exclude the chances of cross-reactivity through testing a subset of the samples using a second type of antibody test even more specific to SARS-CoV-2. Results from the second test mirrored the earlier findings, proving that SARS-CoV-2 antibodies do exist in the sample.

Nevertheless, some U.S. politicians and media refuse to accept such a scientific result. Obviously, this result will overturn the Wuhan lab-leak theory that they have hyped, obstruct the U.S. politicizing origin tracing and prevent it from using China as a scapegoat.

A research paper called Susceptibility of White-Tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) to SARS-CoV-2 published on Journal of Virology on May 10, 2021 by Mitchell V. Palmer team, professional in infectious disease research, has suggested that coronavirus is likely spillover into humans from animals. Considering that SARS-CoV-2 binds to the angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptor of human cells and the white-tailed deer, whose ACE2 receptors are highly homologous to human-ACE2, the species is susceptible to the virus. This research supports scientists to probe into the animal host (white-tailed deer) range of SARS-CoV-2.

What's more, the previous joint study report by the WHO and Chinese scientists also endorses that the transition of the coronavirus from natural host to humans through the intermediate host is the most possible among many paths.

The U.S. launched the origin tracing in the name of science and keeps hyping "lab-leak" theory without clear evidence, but when it comes to the virus found at home, it turns a deaf ear to scientific results. It refuses to answer questions concerning Fort Detrick. So, does the country believe in politics or science?

The U.S. should not stand in the way of COVID-19 origin tracing as the international community unanimously calls for a scientific and objective investigation. It is an urgent mission for the U.S. to further conduct investigations into the deer carrying coronavirus antibodies and help the world find the origin of the virus at an early date.



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