It was all marked by dry cough and fever which swiftly developed into pneumonia, it was New Year’s Eve 2019 when the officials in china admitted they have an emerging epidemic, the outbreak of viral pneumonia called covid19, which is corona virus identified by 19 the year of its outbreak. First SARS then MARS and then COVID19, China has become a nursery for epidemics. WHO has already declared COVID19 as a pandemic potential of having devastating consequences.
When the source and origin of the virus was investigated it was pinned down to central China, it was seen that the first from 41 individuals who contracted the virus 27 had been to a wet market Huanan Market in Wuhan, leaving the survey inconclusive the market was immediately shutdown but it wasn’t enough to control the spread. A wet market is a place where animals are slaughtered for human consumption. The conditions of such market is often poor and animals are stacked over one another making the once at the bottom most probable to be soaked in the blood and excrements from ones over them.
In 2003 a similar wet market became the spawn of previous corona virus outbreak called SARS which affected 29 countries and became the cause of death for 774 people. Now after 18 years the similar virus with a mutation and reoccurrence has become a problem for 71 countries, killing almost 3100 people. What really is with these markets that is causing such outbreak of viruses such as coronavirus and why is it happening in china?
All the viruses that we have encountered, usually originated from animals like influenza which causes flu comes from poultry and pigs, HIV from chimpanzees and Ebola virus is likely to originate from bats. In the case of COVID19 its suggested origin is bats, which was transferred to pangolins and transmitted to human, as viruses are very swift in jumping species. For the transmission it is necessary for these host to come in contact or be at some place for once, that is where the Wuhan market and other such wet markets came in for the spread of viruses such as COVID19. It is usually the wild animals that are primary hosts of the viruses, how these wild animals made their way in to the Chinese wet markets and consequently all around the world has a history that backs to some 30 years.
In 1970 China was breaking apart, famine left China economically devasted. This meant that a communist Chinese government is no longer able to provide the food and ration which it was liable to for, resulting in privatization of the agriculture industries in 1978 a decision which was inevitable by then. Larger companies were able to dominate the poultry and other agriculture industries while small farmers and poor peasants ended up in catching and selling wild animals for human consumption creating a small-scale wild game industry for sustaining themselves. As it was a way of sustaining people and lifting themselves out of poverty, they were backed by the government these wild animals included turtles, snakes and civet cats.
In 1988 the scenarios took a drastic lift when Chinese government proposed to protect the rights of those who are domesticating and breeding wild animals for human consumption and legalizing them as a natural resource which meant they can be used for human benefit. This sparked the industry and brought it to a boom though it was not contributing to the Chinese GDP much but had a potential for larger impact. The small-scale farmers catching wild animals for human utilization now turned into large scale industries, by 2016 it became a $148 billion industry. The majority Chinese did not consume these animals but a large number of elite class was sustaining this industry and different animals became delicacies not just in china but also around the world. This encouraged the wild animals being smuggled to China to meet the demands of these markets eventually this industry made its way into the wet market and became the reason of major turnover of these markets.
With heavy capitals being invested by the industrial giants this industry boomed, marketing tactics which made the products from these animals to meet newer and higher demands, as these products were marketed as tonic products, sex enhancer, body building, beauty products and immunity boosters.