As all the countries in the world introducing extreme combat measure against the deadly Novel Coronavirus which has killed 21,306 people and infected 471,783 individuals from all around the globe, a study that appeared 12 years ago claimed that the situation in China was like a "time bomb" for a dangerous virus outbreak but nobody paid attention to the warning.

In 2007, a group of international scientists published their research in Clinical Microbiology Reviews. In the study, they noted that the "presence of a large reservoir of SARS-CoV-like viruses in horseshoe bats, together with the culture of eating exotic mammals in southern China, is a time bomb".

China virus
China virus outbreak Pixabay

China did not care about the warning

Almost a decade ago scientists came to a conclusion that China could turn into a threatening place due to the culture of eating exotic mammals in the southern region of the Asian country. The researchers warned that the viruses belong to the Coronavirus family are well known to undergo genetic recombination, which may lead to new genotypes and outbreaks. They said, "The possibility of the re-emergence of SARS and other novel viruses from animals or laboratories and therefore the need for preparedness should not be ignored."

The warning also included that the small reemergence of Severe acute respiratory syndrome or SARS, which hit the world in 2003 after the resumption of the wildlife market in southern China, as well as the recent discovery of a very similar virus in horseshoe bats, bat SARS-CoV, indicated that SARS can return if conditions are fit for the introduction, mutation, amplification and transmission of this dangerous Coronavirus.

It should be noted that by the time the study appeared, that was in 2007, the SARS outbreak had already affected more than 8,000 people globally and killed around 800 individuals. But the new Coronavirus, which causes COVID-19 disease has surpassed the 2003 SARS outbreak already.

Coronavirus
Chief nurse Ma Jing holds a patient's hand to comfort her in the ICU (intensive care unit) of Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University in Wuhan, central China's Hubei Province, Jan. 24, 2020. By Thursday midnight, Hubei Province in central China reported 549 cumulative confirmed cases of the new coronavirus pneumonia, with 495 in Wuhan, the provincial capital. (Xinhua/Xiong Qi/IANS) Xinhua/IANS

What would have happened if the study was taken seriously?

There is no doubt that despite all the efforts China had lost over 3,000 lives, Italy and Spain are facing the worst nightmare as both these countries have reported the 7,703 and 3,647 deaths respectively. While world leaders are imposing extreme measures to contain the spread of the virus which has chosen a new epicentre in Europe targeting thousands of people, scientists are still searching for an effective vaccine or drug to cure COVID-19 patients.

If the Chinese government, which is already facing criticism for covering up the Coronavirus cases in the country, paid attention to the outbreak warning in 2007, then probably the situation wouldn't have been what it is today. Heeding the pre-warning would have allowed the researchers to find a vaccine or drug before the outbreak.

It is possible that not only China, but even other countries which are currently combating the COVID-19, could have had enough time to plan more perfectly to safeguard citizens -- if someone taken the research seriously and acted accordingly.