On December 31, 2019, the Chinese government issued an alert to the World Health Organization about a new illness that was spreading through the city of Wuhan. Patients were coming down with a mysterious fever, dry cough, and pneumonia. Soon, some were dying. The source was a new virus, named SARS-CoV-2, and health officials were racing to find the source.
A leading hypothesis is that the virus emerged from animals at a popular market in Wuhan. This is not a surprise for many experts because it’s happened before. In 2003, a virus very similar to SARS-CoV-2 emerged from a market in Foshan, China. It caused the SARS disease, which spread to dozens of countries and killed nearly 800 people. SARS-CoV-2 has developed into a much wider outbreak, reaching all across the globe and killing thousands.
The similarities between the two viruses raises the question: Why do new diseases keep emerging from China? This episode of Vox Atlas examines the deeper issue of China’s wildlife trade and how it’s putting global health at risk.
It’s important to note that, as our expert Peter Li points out in the video, “The majority of the people in China do not eat wildlife animals. Those people who consume these wildlife animals are the rich and the powerful — a small minority.”
This video explains how the people of China are themselves victims of the conditions that led to coronavirus. The virus is affecting many different countries and cultures, and there is never justification for xenophobia or racism.
You can find further reading on this on Vox: