Preprint Article Version 2 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

How One Pandemic Led To Another: Was African Swine Fever Virus (ASFV) The Disruption Contributing To Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (Sars‑cov‑2) Emergence?

Version 1 : Received: 24 February 2021 / Approved: 25 February 2021 / Online: 25 February 2021 (16:57:13 CET)
Version 2 : Received: 20 January 2022 / Approved: 25 January 2022 / Online: 25 January 2022 (10:01:12 CET)

How to cite: Xia, W.; Hughes, J.; Robertson, D.; Jiang, X. How One Pandemic Led To Another: Was African Swine Fever Virus (ASFV) The Disruption Contributing To Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (Sars‑cov‑2) Emergence?. Preprints 2021, 2021020590 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202102.0590.v2). Xia, W.; Hughes, J.; Robertson, D.; Jiang, X. How One Pandemic Led To Another: Was African Swine Fever Virus (ASFV) The Disruption Contributing To Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (Sars‑cov‑2) Emergence?. Preprints 2021, 2021020590 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202102.0590.v2).

Abstract

The spillover of a virus from an animal reservoir to humans requires both molecular and ecological risk factors to align. While extensive research both before and after the emergence of SARS-CoV-2 in 2019 implicates horseshoe bats as the significant animal reservoir for the new human coronavirus, it remains unclear why it emerged at this time. One massive disruption to animal-human contacts in 2019 is linked to the on-going African swine fever virus (ASFV) pandemic. Pork is the major meat source in the Chinese diet. We hypothesize that the dramatic shortage of pork following large-scale culling and restrictions of pig movement (resulting in marked price increases) led to alternative sources of meat and unusual animal and meat movements nationwide, e.g., involving wildlife, and thus greatly increased opportunities for human-sarbecovirus contacts. Pork prices were particularly high in southern provinces (Guangdong, Guangxi, Fujian, Jiangxi, Hunan, and Hubei), where wildlife is farmed and more frequently consumed. Major wildlife farming provinces are spread from Northern to Southern China, which overlaps with horseshoe bat host ranges, potential hosts of the proximal SARS-CoV-2 ancestor, and wildlife sourcing provinces of Wuhan Huanan market and possibly other markets. Trading of SARS-CoV-2 susceptible wildlife in these markets, such as minks, raccoon dogs, foxes and palm civets in Wuhan markets, could have increased the risk of SARS-CoV-2 from an intermediary host. Moreover, large quantities of animals raised for fur could have entered the human food chain undetected and significantly increased risks of animal-human contact. Performing retrospective testing of stored susceptible animals and their meat sold before December 2019 may be helpful in the next stage of tracing the animal origin of SARS-CoV-2 as spillover events are more likely to have taken place in 2019 when China was experiencing the worst effects of the ASFV pandemic.

Keywords

African swine fever virus (ASFV); Pork shortage; Alternative meat consumption; Wildlife; Human-animal contact; Zoonotic spillover; SARS-CoV-2

Subject

BIOLOGY, Other

Comments (1)

Comment 1
Received: 25 January 2022
Commenter: Xiaowei Jiang
Commenter's Conflict of Interests: Author
Comment: This is a major revision in light of the WHO report and other previously published new data regarding wildlife trade in China.
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