20 March 2020

Yuen Kwok-yung, D Lung: Pandemic Originated from Wuhan; Lesson from 17 Years Ago Forsaken

Pandemic Originated from Wuhan; Lesson from 17 Years Ago Forsaken
on 18 Mar 2020 (Ming Pao Daily); translated by JL@HKCT, written by Yuen Kwok-yung, David Christopher Lung
Original: link 

Winter of Jihai (2019), a virus began in Wuhan. Comes spring of Gengzi (2020), an epidemic broke out in Hubei. Within China, there were 80,000 confirmed cases, and 3,000 deaths. People were confined in their homes and the epidemic only began slowing down towards the end of the month, yet the virus had leaked to the world outside before it could be stopped. In March, it was a pandemic, only it was announced too late by the World Health Organization (WHO). Countries lacked measures and reserves, and the pandemic swept across the globe. Singapore, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan were spared from the pandemic with continuous sprinkles of overseas imported cases and small groups, but have not yet fallen.

This pandemic came from a virus, shaped like a crown (corōna in Latin), hence named Coronavirus. Since 2015, WHO has avoided using names of people, places, animals, food, culture, occupation, etc., to name illnesses. For this one, the “year” was used for differentiation, COVID-19. In the naming of viruses, International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV) analyses only the genome sequencing meticulously and disregards the other aspects. Since the genome sequence of this Coronavirus was “not novel enough”, it belongs in the same sisterhood with the SARS Coronavirus, also known as SARS 2.0 (SARS-CoV-2). Local and international media call it the Wuhan Coronavirus or Wuhan Pneumonia, simple and straight-forward, which is not incorrect.

Much controversy has resulted in society regarding the name of this pandemic. In fact, the illness was named by WHO, while the virus was named by ICTV. Nicknames are conventional, as long as they are clear and understood. In scientific discussions or academic exchanges, COVID-19 or SARS-CoV-2 must be used. In daily public communications or media wordings, Wuhan Coronavirus or Wuhan Pneumonia are both conventional, easy to understand, and great for communication purposes.

The Pandemic of Gengzi, an Origin in Wuhan

Around 75% of the newly discovered infectious diseases originated from wild animals. Among the few that could infect mammals is the Coronavirus, whose ancestral virus originated from bats or avians. Both have the ability to fly thousands of miles to the place the virus was first discovered, therefore the naming of a virus would also include its place of origin. To investigate the origin of a virus, the correct and objective way is to isolate the virus from the animal host. Unfortunately, since Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market was eradicated early on, the wild animals in the market were already gone by the time researchers had arrived to collect samples. The identities of the natural host and the intermediate host became a mystery. According to the locals, the wild animals sold within the Market came from all over China, Southeast Asia, and Africa (smuggled) to be distributed from there. The ancestral virus of the Wuhan Coronavirus cannot be determined.

Using genome sequencing to determine its origin, a bat Coronavirus stand (RaTG13) was found to be extremely similar to the Wuhan Coronavirus, with a sequencing similarity of 96%, therefore it is believed to be the ancestral virus stand of this Wuhan Coronavirus. This particular virus strand was obtained and isolated from Yunnan bats (Rhinolophus sinicus), and bats are believed to be the natural host of this Wuhan Coronavirus. Epidemiology clearly indicated Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market as the amplification epicentre, where there was a huge possibility that the virus had cross-infected between the natural host and the intermediate host, and then mutated within the intermediate host to adapt to the human body, followed by human-to-human infections.

The identity of the intermediate host remains unknown, but genome sequencing indicated that the Spike Receptor-binding domain of the Wuhan Coronavirus has a 90% similarity to that of the pangolin Coronavirus strand. Although the pangolin could not be confirmed as the intermediate host, it is highly possible that this pangolin Coronavirus strand donated Spike Receptor-binding domain DNA (or even the entire sequence) to the bat Coronavirus strand. Though gene shuffling recombination, the novel Coronavirus was born.

Wild Animal Market, the Origin of Innumerable Viruses

The 2003 SARS virus originated from Heyuan, became an epidemic in Guangdong, and passed to Hong Kong. The SARS Coronavirus was found in civets, and China clearly banned the trading of wild animals afterwards. 17 years on, the wild animal market has run amuck. The Chinese have outright forgotten the lessons from SARS and have allowed a live wild animal market to exist within the centre of a highly developed city, with wild animals being cooked and eaten in brought daylight – simply astonishing. The faeces of the animals within a live wild animal market contain a large amount of germs and viruses. With a crowded environment, vile hygiene, and a mix of wild animal species, gene shuffling and mutation could easily occur in viruses, therefore these markets must be banned.

Reform of the wet markets should be a focus of epidemic prevention. The mainland Chinese and Hong Kong governments must quickly improve these environments by enhancing ventilation and pest control. Before the complete elimination of live-animal markets, animal faeces must be well handled to minimise the chances of gene shuffling in viruses.

The online rumour that the virus originated from the US was absolutely groundless, delusional. Stop spreading the falsity before we expose ourselves to ridicule. To remain calm before a pandemic, informational transparency is of the utmost importance. With calm and objective analysis, refrain from parroting others and spreading hearsay. Not strictly enforcing the closure of all wild animal markets after SARS was a grave mistake. In order to defeat an illness, one must own up to the mistakes and face the truths. Stop committing the same mistakes and putting the blame onto others. The Wuhan Coronavirus was a product of the inferior culture of the Chinese people: excessive hunting and ingesting wild animals, inhumane treatment of animals, disrespecting lives. Continuing to devour wild animals for human desires, the deep-rooted bad habits of the Chinese people are the real origin of the virus. With this attitude, in a dozen years, SARS 3.0 is bound to happen.

(Dr Lung graduated in 2004 from the University of Hong Kong, Faculty of Medicine with distinction in Medicine. He currently works in the Hong Kong Children’s Hospital, where he built up the microbiology team and lab. Yuen Kwok-yung is a Professor and Chair of Infectious Diseases of the Department of Microbiology of the University of Hong Kong)
00:07 19 Mar: Yuen Kwok-yung & Disciple Withdraw & Apologise over Article "Pandemic Originated from Wuhan; Lesson from 17 Years Ago Forsaken"

Ming Pao Daily, which printed the article written by renowned biologist Yuen Kwok-yung and disciple David Christopher Lung, withdrew the article tonight.

They said they are scientists chasing after science and truth, and knew nothing about politics. They said they never intend to be involved in politics. They apologised that the expression was not appropriate and words used were wrong. This was not their intention, and they stressed that the article has nothing to do about politics. They are sorry for causing the misunderstanding due to the "typos". They did not mention what were the words and expressions involved.

However, their article did place Singapore, Malaysia and other countries together with the Republic of China. Later they changed the words to Taiwan. Now they decided to withdraw the article.
2020年3月18日 星期三 《明報》觀點版

龍振邦、袁國勇:大流行緣起武漢 十七年教訓盡忘


此疫由病毒所致,因其形如冠,故名曰冠狀病毒。世衛由2015年開始避免用人名、地名、動物、食物、文化、職業等為疾病命名。故是次以「年份」為此病冠名以資識別,稱此病為冠狀病毒感染-19(COVID-19)。國際病毒分類委員會(International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses, ICTV)以病毒基因排序為命名標準,每段基因逐一細心分析,其他因素不作考慮。蓋因此冠狀病毒基因排序「未夠新」,屬沙士冠狀病毒的姐妹,故稱之為沙士冠狀病毒2.0(SARS-CoV-2)。民間及國際媒體則稱之為武漢冠狀病毒或武漢肺炎,直接簡單,亦無不可。


庚子大疫  始於武漢
約75%之新發傳染病源於野生動物,而數隻能感染哺乳類動物的冠狀病毒,其元祖病毒(ancestral virus)則源於蝙蝠或雀鳥。兩者皆能從數千公里外飛抵發現病毒之處,故病毒之命名系統亦會以發現處名之記之。欲查病毒之源,準確客觀之法乃從動物宿主身上分離出病毒。可惜華南海鮮批發市場早被清場,研究人員抵達蒐證取樣本之時,場內之活野味早已不知所終,病毒之天然宿主(natural host)及中間宿主(intermediate host)身分成疑。據當地人員述,華南海鮮批發市場內之野生動物從中國各地、東南亞各國及非洲(走私出口)運抵此處集散,武漢冠狀病毒之元祖病毒源於何地則無從稽考。

以基因排序之法尋源,查得一隻蝙蝠冠狀病毒株(RaTG13)與武漢冠狀病毒極為相近,其排序高達96%近似,故相信此病毒株為武漢冠狀病毒之始祖。此病毒株於雲南的中華菊頭蝠(Rhinolophus sinicus)身上分離得之,故相信蝙蝠乃武漢冠狀病毒之天然宿主。流行病學研究明確顯示華南海鮮批發市場為初期擴散點(amplification epicenter),病毒很大機會在場內由天然宿主交叉感染中間宿主,再於中間宿主體內出現適應人體之突變,繼而出現人傳人之感染。

中間宿主身分未明,但基因排序顯示武漢冠狀病毒S蛋白受體(Spike Receptor-binding domain)與穿山甲冠狀病毒株近似度高達90%。雖然未能確定穿山甲為中間宿主,但此穿山甲冠狀病毒株極可能捐出S蛋白受體基因(甚至全段S蛋白基因)給蝙蝠冠狀病毒株,透過基因洗牌重組成為新的冠狀病毒。

野味市場  萬毒之源



「追求科學真理 無意捲入政治」 龍振邦袁國勇撤回文章 (23:38)
本報觀點版今日刊登香港大學李嘉誠醫學院微生物學系名譽助理教授龍振邦,及香港大學李嘉誠醫學院霍英東基金(傳染病學)教授袁國勇來稿〈大流行緣起武漢 十七年教訓盡忘〉,龍振邦及袁國勇現撤回文章。


2020年3月22日 蘋果日報

〈大流行緣起武漢〉文言版 - 馮睎乾

昨天邵頌雄教授撰文,評龍振邦、袁國勇的〈大流行緣起武漢 十七年教訓盡忘〉,點出了不少人皆忽略的問題:文風。邵兄評它「文筆風格夾雜」,開場白是「無厘頭的半白話」,「初看還以為是引用網上流行好幾篇以『荊楚大疫』為題的文言潮文」。龍、袁為什麼用這種表達方式?寫法是否恰當?從文學角度談這篇文,大概比政治角度有意義得多。


龍、袁合撰文章已有多年,我看過他們在《灼見名家》發表的作品,處處見「半文言」風格。據我推測,〈大〉的風格是龍振邦的,他在《灼見名家》的簡介這樣寫:「龍振邦,香港大學醫學院畢業。傳染病及微生物科醫生,專研小兒科傳染病。愛憶舊懷古,以史為鑑。」尾句的描述,完全符合那「民國穿越而來」的筆法。我印象最深的,是在龍醫生有份寫的〈白文信:我只是巧匠凡醫!〉中,把十九世紀蘇格蘭醫生白文信(Sir Patrick Manson)的英語筆記引文,一律譯為文言,還把外國學者評論白文信的話翻成打油詩:「醫學會上觀奇文,方知世事如斯神。白君如非驚世才,定是醉鄉夢裏人。」可惜他沒提供原文。





1 comment:

  1. ...and what about the P4 Category laboratory that holds some of the most dangerous pathogens in the world, that happens to be located in - you guessed it - Wuhan! Opened in 2015.

    Opened in cooperation with the French Institut Pasteur - who in 2003 filed a European Patent for a new Corona Virus.... which looks a bit like - you guessed it!

    Who left the door open?