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by Ren Jander, ©2020

PublicDomainPictures, Pixabay, Free License

(Apr. 6, 2020) — Yesterday, a story broke about a tiger having tested positive for the Covid-19 coronavirus at the Bronx Zoo. The story noted that multiple domestic animals have also tested positive. The story also highlighted that medical professionals believe the virus was transmitted to the tiger by an asymptomatic zookeeper, stating, “It’s the only thing that makes sense.”

So, if humans can transmit Covid-19 to animals, then it begs the question, can animals transmit this particular coronavirus to humans? This is a crucial issue facing the world right now, especially for children who love and adore their pets.  Are we in danger of being infected by our pets?

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is tasked with animal welfare. The USDA was quick to issue an official government statement yesterday concerning the tiger infected by Covid-19. That statement included a Q&A section where they addressed the question of whether animals can infect humans:

Question: If animals can catch the virus, can they give it back to people?

Answer: At this time, there is no evidence to suggest that any animals, including pets or livestock, can spread COVID-19 infection to people.

When I read that, the first word that came to mind was “lab.”  Why did “lab” come into my mind? Because this official government statement – “there is no evidence to suggest that any animals…can spread Covid-19 infection to people” – directly contradicts the mainstream narrative that Covid-19 coronavirus jumped from bats (or pangolins) into humans at a wet market in Wuhan, China. If there is no evidence to suggest that any animals can infect people, then what is the most likely alternative to the origin of our current disaster?

While discussing this dilemma, a contact in the medical community suggested that, if a bat was carrying Covid-19, and a human ate the bat, the virus could be directly ingested. And it follows that as long as people don’t eat their pets, they will not be infected.

But there’s a huge caveat which directly refutes this idea: the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued an official statement affirming that Covid-19 is not a foodborne illness:

Unlike foodborne gastrointestinal (GI) viruses like norovirus and hepatitis A that often make people ill through contaminated food, SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19, is a virus that causes respiratory illness. Foodborne exposure to this virus is not known to be a route of transmission.

After quoting this to my contact, he became agitated and muttered something about “conspiracy theories.” This conversation did not end well. But since I do have the utmost respect for him, I investigated his idea, searching for an accepted scientific explanation regarding exactly how Covid-19 was first transmitted to humans. The most enlightening discussion I found was in a Q&A conducted by KGW8 (the NBC affiliate in Portland) with an expert on the spread of viruses, Professor Ken Stedman of Portland State University.

The headline of the article is: “Did Covid-19 start in bats? How did it transfer to humans? Answering your coronavirus questions”.  Here is the first question and answer:

QUESTION: I’ve heard a lot of doctors and lot of people talk about how coronavirus started in China, in Wuhan, in a wet market with lots of different animals. But can you walk me back maybe even further than that and tell me how the heck we got here. How did COVID-19 end up causing such a problem for us stateside. What do we know about its origins?

STEDMAN: That’s a great question. The answer is we don’t completely know. But what we’ve been able to do is a molecular process, kind of a detective search to try and figure out where this particular virus is causing the COVID-19 disease. We actually call it now SARS-CoV2. This SARS-CoV2 pretty clearly originated in bats. The reason we know that is if you look at bats, bats have a massive amount of diversity of coronaviruses in bats, way more coronaviruses in bats than in any other animal anybody’s ever seen. We’ve got four or five different coronaviruses that infect us, but bats have probably hundreds of different coronaviruses. That’s the first indication that it probably came from bats, because there are way more coronaviruses in bats. But then, if you also look specifically at the genes that are present in these particular viruses that are causing COVID-19 right now in us, those are extremely similar to a bat virus that was found by the Chinese in some caves in China, that is not identical to the one which is infecting humans now, but it’s so similar that it’s highly likely that this virus, which is infecting us and the one that’s infecting bats, came from a common ancestor probably not that long ago. So probably there was a bat virus and that bat virus somehow got into humans. That’s where the big question is right now. We don’t completely understand what that is.

 The bottom line here is that the professor is telling us he does not know how the bat virus got into humans. And his use of the word “we” means that he is speaking for the entire scientific community when he says, “We don’t completely understand…”

But my friend, the frontline member of the medical community, and everyone else I spoke to about this is of the opinion we got here from people eating bats. And the KGW8 correspondent also wanted to discuss this, which leads us to the next line of questions answered by Stedman:

QUESTION: What might have been one of the chain of events that went from bat to human? What happened in between?

STEDMAN: Great question. We don’t know. But again, if you look at these sequences and you think about these wet markets in China, where you have a lot of live animals that are for sale, some of them legally, some of them less legally, that appears to be at least where this particular coronavirus, which is infecting us now and is causing these epidemics, that’s where there’s a big focus of this particular virus. So, probably what happened, is there were some wild animals in that market that were infected by a bat virus originally. How, you may ask, how does a bat virus end up in some of these animals in a wet market? What we think happened, again this is projection, but given the molecular detective work that a lot of people have been doing, not me, but lots of other people have been doing, it looks as if this particular virus probably came out of a bat, and the way things come out of bats is usually in their guano [excrement of seabirds and bats], so, and coronaviruses in bats are mostly intestinal viruses, they’re not respiratory viruses, quite why that is is not entirely clear, but it probably came out in the bat guano, and then some other animal either ate that guano, was exposed to it somehow, that then ended up in the wet market. It might have been pangolins, and you might have heard of the pangolins before.

QUESTION: I think not many people are familiar. Can you explain what a pangolin is?

STEDMAN: A pangolin is kind of a cross between an ant-eater and an armadillo…It turns out as I mentioned that the virus infecting us is very similar to bat viruses in almost all of its genes, but there’s a small part in the virus genes that’s infecting us that looks more like a pangolin virus than it does like a bat virus.

QUESTION: Oh, interesting. So then they’ve intermingled perhaps. So we’ve got the bat and the pangolin and this new virus that has morphed and is passed to humans if they, what, eat the pangolin? How does that happen?

STEDMAN: Presumably. Again, great point. Probably there was this interaction that took place, we call it recombination in the virus world. That probably would have happened in the pangolin or some other animal. In the case of SARS, back in 2003, it was probably pretty clearly a civet cat, where this happened. And again, this is recombination that happened between the different viruses. But then, after that, it’s in this particular animal, then it has to transfer somehow to humans. How did that happen? Probably not by being eaten. That’s kind of unlikely. Somehow it’s ended up in our lungs. Clearly now, this particular coronavirus, and all coronaviruses in humans, are really mostly spread through respiratory tract, sneezing, coughing, etc. So, maybe the pangolin sneezed or there’s just lot of aerosol. All of these markets in China are incredibly packed, everything’s very, very close together, all the animals are packed, cages stacked on top of each other. So it could be some kind of fecal matter or aerosol droplets from the animals then spread to people in the market and then from there, spread then to other people.

Professor Stedman confirms the FDA statement that the medical community does not believe Covid-19 was transmitted by humans eating infected foods. He says, “That’s kind of unlikely.”

Then he theorizes that the virus could have spread from “animal fecal matter or aerosol droplets.” But the USDA just told us yesterday that, “There is no evidence to suggest that any animals…can spread Covid-19 infection to people.” Hence, the headline of my report is true: The USDA has officially denied the wet market theory of Covid-19 transmission to humans.

So, if the USDA is correct – that there is no evidence animals can infect people – and if the FDA is correct – that Covid-19 is not a foodborne illness – and Professor Stedman is correct – that the scientific community admittedly does not understand how the bat virus, mutated by pangolins, infected humans – then the word “lab” should be on the table, right?

The Wuhan Institute of Virology has been studying coronaviruses in bats for a long time…in their lab…in Wuhan.  It’s about time the scientific community put that lab under the microscope.

Written and researched by Ren Jander

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  1. Sars-Cov-2 has been classified as a Zoonosis, one of a variety of organisms that ARE transmitted from animals to humans. Rabies, for example is a direct zoonose. Transmitted from animal to humans. Reports have indicated that China bought the Virus in a less virulent form from a U.S. laboratory in N. Carolina and re-engineered it genetically as a bio-weapon. Of course, the U.S. Government is not going to admit that this happened. (Source: Fox News).

  2. It needs to be made clear that viruses infect with extremely high specificity. There are very limited biochemical “routes” by which they can infect. Norovirus, which can give you diarrhea, infects the GI tract. It can’t and won’t infect the lungs or anything else. Adenovirus, coronavirus, these can only infect through the lungs. HIV only attacks T-cells, even then, only a certain subtype of T-cell. Same story for all other viruses. There is also “efficiency” of infection. For example, herpesviruses have extremely low efficiency. One particle in a thousand is infective.

    If it turns out that COVID-19 is so broadly infective that it can replicate in a wide array of mammals, that raises profound genetic questions. The best I can do here is say think of DNA and genes as one big LEGO kit. It’s the same pieces, but look at all the different life forms that can be made with those pieces. But along comes this thing, call it a virus, which manages to bind to this one piece that is used to make all these different life forms. There is something here that needs to understood.