Researchers suggest that the virus may have started with a bat in a cave but they also suggest that human activity set it loose.
Researchers said that the new virus that has captured the world's attention caused a lockdown of 56 million people in China and disrupted travel plans around the globe. But "nCoV-2019" publically known as Wuhan coronavirus was identified by Chinese scientists back in 2019. The name is short for "novel coronavirus of 2019."
Back in 2019, it was first recognized to have infected humans in the seafood and live-animal market in Wuhan. This means that nCoV-2019 is not as novel as some think.
A very similar virus was found several years ago in a cave in Yuman province in China. Scientists who discovered the cave were extremely concerned. But the fact that the virus came from a nonhuman animal is not a surprise to scientists.
In a 2017 paper, scientists showed how they found coronaviruses in multiple individuals of 4 different species of bats in the Yuman cave. This was achieved after 5 years of collecting the fecal samples from bats. The genome of that virus is 96% identical to the recent Wuhan virus.
A private research organization said that, during a second duty, a team took blood samples from around 2,000 people who live in Yuman. Out of 2,000, 400 lived near the cave. Roughly 3% of them carried antibodies against SARS-related coronaviruses.
Researchers suggest that the virus is continuously jumping from bats to humans. This means that the current Wuhan emergency is not completely new. One researcher suggests that the current wildlife food trade supported by international supply chains could be a major player in the virus outbreak.
While China just outlawed these wildlife products, they will be eventually allowed to resume. These include bats, civets, porcupines, turtles, bamboo rats and many kinds of birds. The unprecedented human capabilities of accessing various ecosystems and disrupting them will increase disturbances and viral exchanges.
Humans invade tropical forests and other wild landscapes that harbor so many species bundled with so many unknown viruses. Eventually, viruses lose their natural hosts and they will need a new host: humans.