• Anna Mowris

How did Covid-19 really originate?

To prevent future pandemics, we need to recognize the true origins of the novel coronavirus — the inhumane treatment of animals — and take steps to transform animal agriculture and ban wildlife trafficking.

President Trump, among others, coined the term “Chinese Virus” in reference to Covid-19. However, although the virus originated in China, it could’ve come from anywhere. Our global leaders should be focusing on the what rather than the where.

Trump’s use of language not only incites racism, but it avoids the root of the issue: coronavirus’ true origins are improper wildlife trade and animal agriculture.

The reality is, this virus could have originated anywhere where animals are continuously exploited and commodified. We, together as a human race, need to take ownership over the origination and spread of Covid-19 — as every nation on this earth is complicit in animal exploitation via the wildlife trade, factory farming, and overfishing.

Recent news tells us that Covid-19 originated from bats [1]. However, it’s not the first virus to arise from indecent human-animal relationships. Viruses such as Influenza, Swine Flu, SARS, Bird Flu, and Ebola originated from animals, through factory farming, live animal markets, animal trafficking, and other scenarios where animals are held in dense concentrations with frequent human contact.

We must ask ourselves: what are the costs of ignoring the coronavirus’ animal origins? Is the lack of news coverage and government focus on animal-human disease transference stopping us from preventing future pandemics? By choosing to ignore the cause of Covid-19, are we enabling future deadly viruses to ravage human life?

Researchers - including the United Nations’ biodiversity chief - believe we must respond by immediately banning live animal markets and global wildlife trafficking [2]. They’ve urged Trump and his administration to take immediate action in stopping these practices.

Furthermore, researchers are arguing that we have to move away from systems of factory farming, which are essentially breeding grounds for deadly viruses and antibacterial resistant strains of bacteria. We need to raise our animals in safer, more sanitary, and ultimately humane ways. As long as meat remains an essential part of the human diet, animal agriculture will be a necessary and unavoidable part of society. If it’s not going away, we must reimagine ways to raise and consume animals in a cleanlier and more ethical fashion.

As cities around the globe began shutting down in response to Covid-19, activists began rallying to shut down New York City’s whopping 85 live animal markets, as well as markets in San Francisco, Oakland, and Berkeley, California [3]. Yet, inexplicably, there have been no major media reports on these protests.

Again, why are we ignoring the root cause of this pandemic? These activists are calling it like it is: the systematic abuse of animals in our food system is the root cause of this global pandemic. An expert in zoonotic diseases describes this pandemic as ‘mother nature’s revenge.’

This brings us back to Trump. To discuss a global pandemic without mentioning the underlying causes of its origin is irresponsible. We need to stop blaming China for being the country where the virus came from, and instead start talking about coronavirus’ true cause, one for which we are all equally responsible. If we don’t, Covid-19 will likely be just another name on an ever-growing list of pandemic viruses that could have been prevented, and who’s fault would it be?

All of ours.

For ignoring the facts the information presented to us, and allowing for it to continue. We must take steps — individually and as communities and nations — to improve the conditions in which we raise the animals that we consume.

Our financial decisions can help to transform business incentives and economic outcomes, and ultimately policy and societal norms. The way we spend and invest has a huge impact on the future of the environment and animal welfare. As an investor, you have agency to choose firms that are concerned with the well-being of animals, and invest in companies that raise the bar of ethics and standards in their animal care practices.

Let’s help society begin to treat animals humanely, and stop the spread of pandemic viruses together.

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