Coronavirus: how the scientific discourse has evolved with the epidemic



REVOLUTIONS – Between its origin, its spread and its treatment, there are still many questions around the coronavirus. So much so that certain ideas, set aside or described as false at the beginning of the pandemic, are now credible, and vice versa. Focus on these reversals that occurred throughout the research.

It is these few contradictions that have caused confusion. And today feed certain conspiratorial minds. While Europe is experiencing a resurgence of the epidemic, the information on Covid-19 is now very different from what we had during the first wave. This is the case, for example, of the origin of Covid-19, whose many unknowns fuel the theories on the impact of human beings in their appearance. But also on the effectiveness of wearing a mask, of which the numerous discrepancies between the first and second waves have continued to give space to the movement of “anti-masksMore recently, it is the infectiousness of children that has sown the disorder. On these three arguments, claims deemed false at the start of the epidemic have finally turned out to be credible or proven. Some data do not fail to do so. seize to discredit the political and scientific discourse.

The laboratory accident thesis: not so far-fetched anymore

Just under a year old, the pangolin, this small wild animal, has been presented as the ideal suspect in the spread of Covid-19. Sold in the Wuhan market, the first outbreak of the disease, the scaled mammal has long been suspected of being the intermediate host. The one that would have allowed the transmission of the virus from the bat to the human species. Although scientists were not formal at the time, they saw this as the main explanation. Today this is no longer the case. In particular because, as virologist Etienne Decroly observes, “the identity rate between the SARS-CoV-2 sequences and those derived from the pangolin is only 90.3% “. A number “much lower than the rates usually observed between strains infecting humans and those infecting the intermediate host“, he explains. For example, the SARS-CoV genome, responsible for SARS in the early 2000s, was 99.5% identical to civet, leaving no doubt about the origin of the contamination.

From now on, if researchers still don’t know for sure how the virus could have been transmitted to the human species, they propose new explanations. Including that of a virus from a laboratory. Yet for months this thesis has been described as false. Particularly because several people accused the Pasteur Institute at the time of being at the source. If the French foundation still has no connection with this virus, the thesis of the laboratory accident is finally not ruled out.

The emerging virus specialist at the CNRS in Marseille explained on October 27 that it would be possible that “SARS-CoV-2 is descended from a bat virus isolated by scientists during virus collections and which would have adapted to other species when studying animal models in the laboratory“. Laboratory from which he would later accidentally escape.”Until we have found the intermediate host, this hypothesis of accidental escape cannot be ruled out by the scientific community.. “An axis of reflection among many others that does not”it can be compared to a conspiracy thesisIt should be noted that the scientific literature does not mention a man-made virus in any way.

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If the origin of the virus, still unknown, feeds many fantasies, even the reversals on health measures have sown confusion in many minds. This is particularly the case with airport theories. Remember, at the beginning of the epidemic, the government kept asking for some “barrier gestures“very simple: wash your hands, avoid contact and keep a distance of one meter. In fact, until March it was estimated that the virus was not necessarily contagious in the air. It would have been enough to reduce contact to avoid contagion, but since then scientists agreed that the virus spreads through the air, where it can remain in suspension.

A turning point that feeds some false information, such as the one shared last October by MP Martine Wonner. He mistakenly assured the National Assembly that Covid-19 was only transmitted by “manuportage”, citing the US health authorities.

The mask, catalyst of false information

This new knowledge of the virus is why health authorities have added two new instructions to the three barrier gestures: ventilate enclosed spaces and wear the mask. And this is what leads us to a third misunderstanding that we never stop talking about. Also this week, a video shared more than 11,000 times on Facebook denounced “inconsistencies and contradictions“both in”political than scientific“in the fight against the epidemic in France. The extract calls into question in particular the speech of the Minister of Health, Olivier Véran, and his number 2, Jérôme Salomon. Both secured in the spring, in the midst of the first epidemic wave , that wearing a mask in the general population was not desirable. “Masks are useless if you are not sick“, affirms the minister, reiterating that”the use of the mask in the general population is not recommended and is not useful“.

A speech in total break with what is held today, which was accompanied by the obligation to wear this protection in all closed places. If this turnaround is real, it only follows the progress of research, including that on airports. At that time, the ministry was limited to complying with the recommendations of the World Health Organization, which have evolved considerably since then.

The question of masks and their effectiveness is at the center of a lot of false information. Including yet another that ultimately turns out to be correct. While health authorities estimated last spring that it was globally a false good idea to wash surgical masks, the UFC-Que choir finally demonstrated on Wednesday 11 November that these protectors can be washed and reused ten times.

Finally, infectiousness of children remains among the issues that raise the most questions. Considered super contaminants at the beginning of the epidemic and therefore not dangerous at all, the work of science struggles to show their impact in the spread of Covid-19. As a reminder, during the first wave in France, the first measure taken was the closure of schools. Babies were thought to be excellent transmitters of germs. Eventually, a study showed they weren’t contagious. Before a third had revealed in July that, although they were rarely symptomatic, they could be carriers of the virus.

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Several unknowns persist on many topics, including the question of the contagiousness of the youngest. While there is some scientific consensus on some points, others will still need to be changed. Like science and its knowledge, which continues to evolve.

Do you want to ask us questions or provide us with information that you think is unreliable? Do not hesitate to write to us at [email protected]

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