On January 22nd, just as Wuhan's new pneumonia was raging, the Yangcheng Evening News pulled up an exclusive past interview that took place more than 10 years ago with Zhong Nanshan, an academician who gained prominence in the wake of the SARS outbreak; back then, he directly expressed his concern about "SARS coming back", and specifically mentioned Wuhan.
During that interview, Academician Zhong Nanshan said, "From a careful analysis of the last 30 years, about 60%-80%, likely closer to 80%, of new human infectious diseases have come from animals. This is because the over-exploitation of nature has disrupted the ecological balance between man and nature, which has led to this result. For now we don't know enough about the whole context of the SARS outbreak, but one of them is very well understood, which is related to the consumption of an animal species commonly called the "masked palm civet". When we talk about a harmonious society, it should not only be between people, countries, etc. The meaning of a harmonious society should also include people and nature, man and the ecological environment. Only then can the earth and human beings have sustainable development."
One or two years after SARS had just been defeated, Zhong Nanshan said several times that "SARS will come back"; however, SARS did not return seven or eight years later. So he was questioned "Why is your prediction not the same as the result?"
"My explanation is very simple; at time, Guangdong and Guangzhou took all kinds of very resolute measures against the palm civet", Zhong Nanshan said. "But now many studies have confirmed that just like in past times, it is still expected to come because some animals still have viruses. For instance, the "Chinese chrysanthemum manta rays" found in Hong Kong and Wuhan actually harbor SARS-like viruses. If we take firm measures, I don't expect SARS to come back."
The Wuhan outbreak has been confirmed to be linked to human demand for wild animals, which originated in a seafood market in Wuhan that sells animals that are prohibited from being sold.
- Translated by Charlie Li