Part 3: The most likely Origin of the Corona Pandemic
Just as in Part 2 the tracing of the background to the war in Ukraine opened up a wide field of causal chains that all lead in the direction of the ecological core cause, so it happens in the reflection on the pandemic caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. In the reflection, by far the most probable solution, according to logical judgement, to the puzzle of how the virus switched to humans becomes apparent.
A fundamental connection between the pandemic caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus and the ecological core cause is again given by the fact that the number of humans on earth could only be a small fraction of the current population size without the intervention in the evolution of other living beings. In addition, the technologies recently developed on the basis of civilisation, and in particular air travel, enabled the rapid and extensive spread of the virus on the planet. For this reason, many epidemiologists had been predicting the emergence of new pandemics for decades and continue to do so for the future.
More complex and interesting is the investigation of the specific question of where and how the SARS-Cov-2 virus (see picture: electromicroscopic photograph of this virus) has passed on to humans. It is largely undisputed that its ancestors, like those of many other viruses that affect humans, must have existed for a long time in populations of bats. Expert scientists can see this quite confidently by matching the genomes of viruses from such animals with the agent of the disease Covid-19. In their analyses, they find genetic scaffolds that are so extensively the same that it is highly probable that they must have had a common evolutionary past.
The earlier ancestors of SARS-CoV-2 almost certainly existed in bats
Bats and fruit bats have properties as long-term reservoirs for many viruses without becoming sick themselves. This is due to the fact that many of their species spend the day, and often even months in winter, in large numbers huddled closely together in caves. This provides the viruses with ideal conditions for particularly high mutation rates. Since this way of life of the bats has taken place over many millions of years, their immune system has adapted extensively to a harmless coexistence with entire families of viruses. However, this only applies to them, not to other animals that come into contact with the results of these viral mass mutations. If, for example, they happen to eat the droppings of a bat that has fallen on a fruit, they could become infected with a viral variant that has a pathogenic effect on their own body or is infectious within their population.
So the genome analyses in question indicate that earlier ancestors of SARS-Cov-2 very likely existed in bats. But they also indicate, according to equally overwhelming expert opinion, that these ancestors must then have first existed in at least one other animal species before switching to humans, and possibly continued to evolve there for many years. This in turn is suspected because there are differences beyond the same genetic scaffolds that can hardly be explained without such further evolution away from the bats.
There has been a fundamentally different opinion on this in past discussions, according to which these differences were most likely caused by humans in a laboratory. Targeted alterations of viruses isolated from bats have indeed been a field of activity of research institutions for many years, aiming at predictive detection of viral threat potentials. One such laboratory specialising in bat viruses is located in the vicinity of a market in the city of Wuhan, which is often assumed to be the first place where SARS-CoV-2 spreads to humans. What may now appear to be the hottest of all leads, at least to the layman, has been deemed unlikely by most of those scientists who study the genetic structure of the virus intensively. The reasons again lie in the arrangement of the genetic sequences that were read out .
According to the overwhelming expert opinion, there was at least one other animal species as intermediate host between bat and human.
As a non-specialised person, it is hardly possible to delve so far into the extremely complex interrelationships of a viral genome in order to gain one’s own competent opinion on the detailed genetic questions of its origin. But it is possible to look at the essence of the various opinions of these researchers and derive probabilities from them. If one does this, it becomes apparent that the so-called “laboratory theory” no longer plays a significant role. The vast majority of experts assume that there was at least one intermediate host in the form of another animal species. However, two tendential groups with different opinions have formed within this majority:
The first of these tends to assume that the intermediate host lived freely in nature and that a direct transfer took place, for example, in the wild animal trade. Since, in addition to other products, meat from hunted animals as well as live animals that had been caught in the wild were offered on the market in question, the place of origin could also be explained in this way. It is also argued that the trade and consumption of the so-called “bushmeat” had generally increased sharply during 2019. This happened because, from August 2018 onwards, the stocks of the large pig farming industry, as the main meat supplier, partially collapsed in China and other Asian countries when aggressive variants of the African swine fever virus (ASF virus) became rampant there. According to estimates, by 2020 several hundred million farmed pigs had either died directly from the ASF disease or were emergency slaughtered. As a result, pork prices rose sharply, as did demand for bushmeat.
The second group tends to assume that the direct ancestors of the SARS-CoV-2 virus were in the populations of “farm animals” before they jumped to humans. Since contact with humans also occurred regularly in this way, they could have initially adapted inconspicuously to the characteristics of human cells. The high stability in the human population and the ability to evade the weapons of the human immune system are cited as evidence. Furthermore, numerous studies have warned for years that new pathogenic variants of various viruses could emerge in mammals kept in ever increasing numbers and concentrations. The studies often dealt with corona viruses and, in retrospect, sometimes sound like prophetic predictions of the future. Here, as an example, are excerpts from a study published in 2018 in the prestigious journal Cell :
“To answer these urgent questions, in-depth epidemiological investigations and comprehensive analyses of these novel coronaviruses should be conducted. (…)
It has already been reported that pigs are susceptible to infection with human SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV. In addition, the CD26 receptor sequence alignment of pigs and humans shows 94.5 percent similarity, which is sufficient for possible cross-species transmission.”
When in October 2019 the World Economic Forum, together with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, carried out a simulation of a global pandemic caused by pathogenic viruses, the commissioned scientists chose the following scenario, which they apparently considered the most likely: bats hunting for insects in Mexican pig farms infected the pigs with coronaviruses via their faeces falling to the ground. These then mutated unnoticed for some time in the crowded stocks. Then a variant switched to humans and spread across all continents within weeks through air traffic.
The fact that this fictitious scenario of a corona pandemic was played out almost immediately before an actual corona pandemic fired the imagination of many people who were previously unaware of the intense focus that the relevant sciences have had for years on the potential dangers of a jump from the unmanageably large family of corona viruses in particular.
The intermediate hosts of the most recent discovered human Coronaviruses – were “farm animals”.
Potential new hazards to humans from corona viruses had come into focus before SARS-CoV-2, mainly due to two spillovers to humans. These were the SARS-CoV(-1) virus in 2002 and the MERS-CoV virus in 2012, neither of which grew into a global pandemic but both were notable for high mortality rates. MERS killed 890 of the 2585 people infected. Both have other similarities: According to the prevailing expert opinion, their ancestors also existed in bats and there was at least one intermediate host, which, however, was not a free-living animal.
For SARS-CoV(-1), the intermediate hosts are considered to be the civets bred and kept in mass farms as part of the Chinese fur industry, as well as tanuki. According to the virologist Christian Drosten, who was significantly involved in the research on SARS-CoV(-1) and MERS-CoV, this finding is “confirmed” on the basis of several Chinese studies from 2003 and 2004 . This is also the view of most experts in the wider field .
With regard to the intermediate host of MERS-CoV, there is a great deal of evidence that it was bred camels. This result of the search came about quite quickly and is considered to be largely undisputed. Most of the patients admitted to hospitals in the Arabian Peninsula were elderly men who were in contact with camel breeding . Swabs taken from the animals then provided confirmation.
In view of this history, the side of those who assume that “farm animals” are the most likely intermediate host of SARS-CoV-2 is gaining a big lead. And even though nothing else would ever be ruled out in science before solid proof, both the “laboratory theory” and that of a direct jump from free animals move correspondingly further back in terms of probability. This is reinforced by findings in recent years that other corona viruses from populations of “farm animals” may already be in full swing to ignite the next human pandemic.
Other potentially dangerous corona viruses have been identified – again in “farm animals”.
One example that has already been described empirically is the previously unknown coronavirus SADS-Cov, which suddenly appeared out of nowhere in the Chinese pig farming industry in 2016. If this jumps from there to humans, it would therefore hardly be deniable from the outset that it originates from the populations of “farm animals”. SADS-Cov shows considerable similarities to SARS-Cov-2. Also, based on the sequenced genome, the researchers involved virtually agree that the earlier ancestors of both viruses existed in populations of the same species of bats from the horseshoe bat group.
In October 2020, scientists from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill published a study on the question of whether the SADS-CoV virus can also infect human cells and replicate in them. And the result, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), was that this even worked well in all the cells used in the experiment, including lung cells, airway epithelial cells, endothelial cells, fibroblasts and those from the digestive tract.” 
If SADS-Cov were to cause the next global pandemic in humans, there could be a serious difference from Covid 19 disease. In adult pigs, infection with SADS-Cov leads to only a few deaths or is even asymptomatic. Young piglets, on the other hand, died at a rate of about 90 percent without any treatment option.
If the next pandemic that jumps out of the core ecological cause leads to a rapid global mass death of human children, then the events surrounding SARS-CoV-2 would hardly be worth mentioning. And in view of the shocks caused by the relatively harmless pandemic, the already shaky system of civilisation could collapse like a fragile house of cards as a result of a single ecological escalation.
A real answer to the question of where the origin of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic lies cannot be provided by the analysis here. But in the light of the examples shown, it is logical to assume that some kind of “farm animal” is the most likely source of the pathogen’s spread to humans.
Final conclusion of the series “The ecological core cause of all escalations”.
The examples of the war in Ukraine and the pandemic caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus clearly show the causal chains growing out of the core cause described in the first part. Already because it is impossible to predict how and where the next escalations will occur, there would be only one chance to interrupt the causalities: namely by levering out the core cause. To pull the lever at the very bottom, it would take the fastest possible collective enlightenment about the overall context of nature and a corresponding radical reorientation of science and teaching. The eight billion people who currently exist on the unstable foundation of civilisation could not return to hunting and gathering for the most part. But theoretically, on the basis of such enlightenment, they could rapidly roll back the most extreme excesses of unnaturalness. Such highly perverse esacalations as industrial factory farming could be switched off within a very short time without starvation catastrophes breaking out. There could also be many other voluntary adjustments, ranging from a sharp reduction in consumption to a similar reduction in reproduction.
Now and again we at ZEIS Publishing receive feedback with a very specific fundamental objection to our attempt at enlightenment. Our explanations of the ecological interrelationships are not contradicted and are usually even agreed with. Rather, the reproach is that a collapse of civilisation would be the best thing that could happen to life on earth as a whole. For then, so the argument goes, it would quickly be over with the destruction of nature, with the extreme perversion of industrial factory farming and the many other destructive symptoms caused by this system. Accordingly, a process of enlightenment would only lead to a prolongation of all this, without any realistic chance of such a radical change as would be necessary for a collective rolling back of civilisation on a voluntary basis.
There is the following catch to this objection: with considerable probability, the collapse of civilisation would by no means lead to a sudden end to all destruction or even to a rapid extinction of Homo sapiens. On a global level, the events of a “final slum” after the collapse will be more similar to the conditions that can already be observed in regions where the structures of civilisation have collapsed. The people there then have nothing left to lose, which only increases the destruction of the natural environment through deforestation, destruction of the remaining free animal populations, poisoning of the waters and much more.
A matching phenomenon was also recently visible in Central Europe, as a respective consequence of the two escalations thematised in the series here. During the Corona pandemic, ecological issues were hardly considered. People suddenly had a more “important” issue. And the impending shortage of energy sources from the East as a result of the Ukraine war has even caused “ecological” parties like The Greens to largely back down from earlier stances. It is thus foreseeable that after the first major sweep (which has not yet taken place) of the decomposition process into the islands of affluence, the sensitivity there towards any ecological issues will almost completely dry up. And the “final slum” could continue from then on for many years or even decades with escalating destruction of the ecosystem until Homo sapiens disappears as a species. The better way would therefore most likely be the aforementioned enlightenment and a subsequent orderly winding down of the destructive system.