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Pork, Pigs, and

Covid-19

There is a possibility that the Covid-19 is coming from pigs.


This research increases the probability that Covid-19 came
from pork and China must consider the possibility that pigs
are still transmitting it to people.

Common Sense, Pigs, and the Epidemiology


of Covid-19
Anyone who is not a Pollyanna about science and medicine
knows that scientists and doctors are human and humans have
vested interests and cognitive biases. For starters. As the Covid-
19 pandemic gets worse each day, it is important to keep a
skeptical eye on the scientists and information that is forming
the accepted narrative. In some ways, we are still in what I have
called "the fog of epidemiology." Anyone who doesn't know
what "the fog of epidemiology” is should read this book on the
foggy Chronic Fatigue Syndrome epidemic.

When the Covid-19 epidemic supposedly broke out, it was


initially linked to the Wuhan seafood market. The first
epidemiological thought was that there was something in
seafood that was making people sick. Then it was revealed that
there were a thousand stalls in that market, many of which sold
exotic wildlife. Pictures of civets and porcupines emerged and it
was assumed that some creative virus had jumped into workers
and visitors to the market from some animal that only intrepid
Chinese people dine on. Videos of Chinese diners consuming
things like bats, live mice, and large frogs suddenly appeared on
Twitter.

When a virus was rather quickly isolated from sick patients (a


coronavirus), its molecular structure suggested it had come from
bats. But epidemiologists suspected that it had an intermediate
vector and that vector was one of the creatures sold at the
market. Basic on molecular analysis, the first suspects to get
attention were snakes, but that idea was quickly debunked. 

As the search for an exotic intermediate vector continued, it


seemed bizarre that a couple of obvious clues were ignored. The
useful site FluTrackers had posted unedited reports that
indicated that one of the first men with Covid-19 had gone to the
Wuhan market to buy "meat," which everyone knows is usually
pork in China. Even more intriguing and more specific, another
man who was affected by Covid-19 sold pork in the market. He
had been doing it for thirty years.
Now, you can hear our eager-beaver friends in the scientific
community interrupting the conversation and saying in their
most condescending voices, "correlation is not causation," as
though they had just invented the wheel. That's how most
conversations begin and end between scientists and heathen non-
scientists. But after bowing one's head to the obvious, one still
must assert that all epidemiology begins with clues that
eventually turnout to be illusions or winning tickets. To ignore
the pork clue at the Wuhan market is to ignore the obvious. The
Covid-19 pandemic is too important to ignore the obvious.

All of this would just be armchair speculation from a layman if


not for scientists Veneet Menachery and Lisa Gralinksi. On
January 24 they published a paper in Viruses which should have
gotten the attention from the international media. 

Their paper opened with a general description of the epidemic:


"The third zoonotic human coronavirus (CoV) of the century
emerged in December 2019, with a cluster of patients with
connections to Huanan South China Seafood Market in Wuhan,
Hubei Province, China. Similar to severe acute respiratory
syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) and Middle East respiratory
syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) infections, patients
exhibited symptoms of viral pneumonia including fever,
difficulty breathing, and bilateral lung infiltration in the most
severe cases."

The also note, "The source of the 2019-nCoV is still unknown,


although the initial cases have been associated with the Huanan
South China Seafood Market. While many of the early patients
worked in or visited the market, none of the exported cases had
contact with the market, suggesting either human to human
transmission or a more widespread animal source. In addition to
seafood, it is reported on social media that snakes, birds and
other small mammals including marmots and bats were sold at
the Huanan South China Seafood Market. The WHO reported
that environmental samples taken from the marketplace have
come back positive for the novel coronavirus, but no specific
animal association has been identified."

While the scientists don't point out that pork was sold in the
market and there may have been live pigs sold in the market,
they do bring up the issue of the ability of the potential infection
of pigs with the pandemics coronavirus. They note that a
previous paper published on Jaunary 23 by Chinese scientists
suggests that there are cell receptors in pigs (called ACE-2)
which are susceptible to the Covid-19 virus. 

When this matter was brought up to biologist Richard Ebright,


he responded by writing, "The viral genome strongly suggests
that entry into human population involved either: (1) bat
coronavirus RaTG13 or a RaTG13-related bat coronavirus; or
(2) bat coronavirus RaTG13 or RaTG13-related bat coronavirus
after passage in non-bat, non-human host.  Under scenario 2, the
non-bat, non-human host is unknown, but, most likely is a
mammal (mouse, hamster, rabbit, pig, marmoset, macaque,
etc.)."

The fact that pigs can become infected with the Covid-19 virus
does not mean that pigs are infected with the Covid-19 virus and
are vectors for the epidemic in China. But it certainly suggests
that could be the case. In science and epidemiology, this is
known as something that should be researched sooner rather
than later.
But if you think this should be an obvious course of action, take
a breath and think about the implications. The idea that pigs are
infected with the Covid-19 virus would take the epidemic to a
new level of seriousness and panic, as well as economic disaster.
Nobody would want to go there. And yet, if a simultaneous pig
epidemic of Covid-19 is occurring, the inconvenient
implications must be faced and addressed by public health and
agricultural authorities.
Don't count on a common sense approach to investigating the
link between the Covid-19 virus and pigs anytime soon. It may
be avoided until something happens that makes the issue
painfully unavoidable.
It has often been said that the first casualty in war is truth. Let us
hope that the legacy of the Covid-19crisis doesn't turn out to be
that the first casualty in pandemics is common sense.

Return of the Coronavirus: 2019-nCoV [Covid-


19 virus]
by Lisa E. Gralinski  and Vineet D. Menachery 
https://www.mdpi.com/1999-4915/12/2/135/htm

"In addition, another rapid report links demonstrates 2019-nCoV


uses ACE2 receptors from human, bat, civets, and swine."
"At this point, the infectious capability of the 2019-nCoV for
different species and different cell types is unknown. Early
reports suggest that the virus can utilize human, bat, swine, and
civet ACE2."
Source:
https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.01.22.914952v2.
full.pdf
Shi, Z.-L.; Zhou, P.; Yang, X.-L.; Wang, X.-G.; Hu, B.; Zhang, L.; Zhang, W.; Si, H.-R.;
Zhu, Y.; Li, B.; et al. Discovery of a novel coronavirus associated with the recent
pneumonia outbreak in humans and its potential bat origin. bioRxiv 2020

One man who sold pork at the Wuhan market is a victim of


Covid-19 as is a man who reportedly went to the Wuhan
market to buy "meat." If pigs are spreading the
coronavirus, China and the rest of the world may have to
change their approach to controlling the epidemic.

https://flutrackers.com/forum/forum/china-other-health-
threats/china-emerging-diseases-other-health-threats/821830-
china-59-undiagnosed-viral-pneumonia-cases-in-wuhan-hubei-
province-december-30-2019-influenza-sars-mers-ruled-
out/page6

Husband, wife in the Eastern


market selling pork for more
than thirty years
At Wuhan Jinyintan Hospital, Ms. Huang told China
Business Daily that her husband is 52 years old. Both
husband and wife are working in the South China Seafood
Wholesale Market and selling pork non-staple food products
in the Eastern District.
"We have been in the meat wholesale business for a lifetime,
and it has been more than 30 years. In recent years, we have
been in the South China Seafood Wholesale Market." Said Mrs.
Huang.
The market was closed and her husband was hospitalized, but
Mrs. Huang did not stop working. She could only go to the
hospital to learn about her husband's illness, deliver meals or
daily supplies. "After the market was closed and some markets
were closed, some of the goods from the business owners inside
could not get out. I got up at 12 o'clock in the evening to pick up
the goods outside and then send them to the hotel." Ms. Huang
told reporters that many merchants in the market Many
customers have accumulated over the years.
During the exchange, the reporter saw that Mrs. Huang's hand
was rough, and her fingers were frozen very red and swollen.
"My husband was transferred from another hospital to
Jinyintan Hospital on December 31, 2019. The fever was not
very serious before, more than 38 degrees, but the symptoms
have not improved. After transferring to Jinyintan Hospital,
he still has a fever. Mrs. Huang said.
According to Mrs. Huang, her husband started to have
symptoms of a cold and fever around December 25, 2019,
and it has been more than a week now. At that time, I went
to the Wuhan Central Hospital nearest to the South China
Seafood Wholesale Market. I went to see that there was no
hospitalization. Medical staff heard that the merchants in
the seafood market suggested that we go directly to
Jinyintan Hospital.
"When my husband first came, he lived on the 6th floor. When I
heard that he was a merchant in the South China Seafood
Wholesale Market, he moved to the fourth floor." Mrs. Huang
told reporters that most of the merchant patients in the South
China Seafood Wholesale Market live in the fourth floor floor.
After three days, the hospital paid 6,000 yuan in advance for
hospitalization.
According to its introduction, patients in the South China
Seafood Wholesale Market are mainly from the Western
District, and less from the Eastern District. The Western District
mainly sells seafood, chicken, duck and poultry frozen products,
while the Eastern District sells more pork. "The goods in the
market are the same in all parts of the country, and they are
common in all parts of the country." Mrs. Huang said, "We are
not sure whether the illness is related to the goods."
"I had a cold two or three days after my husband had a fever,
and it took me two days to get an injection." Aunt Huang said.
According to the reporter's understanding, the South China
Seafood Wholesale Market environment has not been very good.
Although it is also disinfected from time to time, the ventilation
is poor. Most of the products sold are frozen products. After
freezing, the environment is very humid.
Mrs. Huang told reporters that a fire broke out in the western
part of the market more than two months ago. A shop selling dry
goods caught fire. It started to burn at 2:30 in the morning and
burned to more than 7 o'clock before the fire was put out. "It
was dried spices such as hot peppers. It was very smokey at the
time, and it was particularly sultry. The 11th and 12th streets in
the West District were completely burned.

Pig virus, porcine deltacoronavirus, shows


cross-species transmission
The first animal study of a pig virus’ potential to jump to
another species shows that the virus, once introduced to a select
group of birds, is easily transmitted to healthy chickens and
turkeys.
The researchers who led this work were part of a team that
previously found in a lab setting that the virus could infect cells
from multiple species, including chickens and humans.

Source:
http://outbreaknewstoday.com/research-pig-virus-porcine-deltacoronavirus-shows-cross-species-
transmission-to-poultry-91992/

Important information about pork and pigs in China

There are 14 pig breeding firms in Wuhan


https://www.globalmeatnews.com/Article/2018/07/05/Wuhan-pig-farms-to-organise-China-s-
pork-industry

Pigs and Coronaviruses


Porcine Respiratory Coronavirus
https://thepigsite.com/disease-guide/porcine-respiratory-coronavirus-prcv

Transmissible Coronavirus
Gastroenteritis in Pigs
Transmissible gastroenteritis (TGE) is a common viral disease of the small intestine that causes vomiting
and profuse diarrhea in pigs of all ages.

Etiology and Pathogenesis:


The causal coronavirus infects and destroys villous epithelial cells of the jejunum and ileum, which results
in severe villous atrophy, malabsorption, osmotic diarrhea, and dehydration. The incubation period is ~18
hr. The infection spreads rapidly by aerosol or contact exposure. Severe epidemics are more common during
winter because of survival of the virus in colder temperatures.

https://www.merckvetmanual.com/digestive-system/intestinal-diseases-in-pigs/transmissible-
gastroenteritis-in-pigs
The Importance of Disinfection: Survival of
Coronaviruses on Surfaces and Transmission
Potential via Fomites 
Having previously crossed species from bats to become endemic in humans (7), coronaviruses 229E and OC43
are spread from person-to-person by way of contaminated aerosols. However, the potential for transmission
from contaminated fomites remains of concern as demonstrated by the continued viability of strain 229E more
than three hours after drying onto porous and non-porous materials, including aluminum and sterile sponges;
strain OC43 remained infectious up to one hour after drying on the same surfaces (11). A comprehensive study
evaluating 16 antimicrobial products found that all achieved 3-log10 reductions of human coronavirus strain
229E dried in the presence of organic soil onto stainless steel disks except for a quaternary ammonium
compound, a chlorhexidine gluconate-centrimide product, and a phenolic formulation (10). In addition, low
levels of sodium hypochlorite, chloramine T, and a mixed halide were not effective, although greater
concentrations of these actives did reduce strain 229E levels by 3-log 10 (10). No studies have been published
to-date detailing disinfection efficacy nor inactivation rates of MERS-CoV on surfaces nor in fluids. Public
health agencies such as the CDC recommend the standard disinfection protocols currently in place at hospitals
and other patient care centers.
Interestingly, the zoonotic SARS coronavirus strain demonstrated both respiratory and intestinal replication
routes for human hosts. A retrospective study of 138 patients infected with SARS-CoV found that almost 40%
of patients developed diarrhea, and that SARS-CoV genomic material was detectable in the stool of patients
for more than 10 weeks after onset of the initial illness (4). The release of infectious SARS viruses not only
into the air, but also into the water supply, further amplified the need for an effective halt to potential
environmental transmission. Relative to strain 229E, SARS-CoV maintains infectivity longer in suspension
and when dried onto surfaces and is also more thermally resistant (30 minutes at 56 °C and 60 °C) in the
presence of 20% fetal calf serum (8). Although SARS-CoV appears to be more environmentally resistant
relative to the respiratory coronaviruses, its enveloped structure is still vulnerable to a wide range of
disinfectants. Suspension evaluations of propanol (100% and 70%) and ethanol (78%) demonstrated reduction
of SARS-CoV to levels below detection in 30 seconds; 60 seconds were required for wine vinegar and 120
seconds for formaldehyde (0.7% and 1%) and 0.5% glutardialdehyde (8). Povidone-iodine (PVP-I) products,
quaternary ammonium compounds, free chlorine, and catalytic oxidation via Ag/Al2O3 and Cu/Al2O3 active
surfaces have also been proven to completely inactivate SARS-CoV (2, 3, 9, 12). Therefore, environmental
transmission of coronaviruses via fomites and liquids can be minimized given the proper implementation of
disinfection protocols.

Source:
https://microchemlab.com/microorganisms/coronavirus

Microbiologist Florian Krammer


suggests pigs might be the intermediate
vectors of the Covid-19 virus.

A Tweet from Dr. Krammer: The final host here is humans. So


the 'intermediary host' (if there was one) cannot be a human.
Instead of looking for far fetched explanations, how about an
easy one. SARS-CoV-2 binds well to swine ACE2. Bat--
>swine-->human makes a lot of sense/high probability. Like
Nipah....
— Florian Krammer (@florian_krammer) February 16, 2020

Prof. Florian Krammer received his advanced training in


biotechnology and applied virology at the University of
Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna (Mentor: Dr.
Reingard Grabherr), where he gained extensive experience
with expression and purification of recombinant (glyco-)
proteins and influenza virus-like particles. He established
various expression systems for these proteins using insect
cells/baculovirus, mammalian cells, bacteria, yeast and
plants. Furthermore, he worked on a novel influenza virus
rescue system based on baculovirus transduction of
mammalian cells and a novel bioassay to measure inhibition
of the influenza virus polymerase complex by cap-snatching
inhibitors. He graduated from the University of Natural
Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna in 2010.
Prof. Krammer’s post-doctoral work in the laboratory of Dr. Peter Palese at the Department of
Microbiology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York focused on the
development of broadly neutralizing anti-hemagglutinin stalk antibodies and the design of an
universal influenza virus vaccine. The results of these studies have been very promising: After
successful testing in animal models (mice, ferrets), studies with this universal influenza virus
vaccine are now advancing to human clinical trials.
Currently Prof. Krammer holds a position as a Professor of Vaccinology at the Department of
Microbiology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. He has published more than 100
papers, is member of the editorial boards of the Journal of Virology, Plos One and Heliyon and is
a peer reviewer for more than 30 journals. Dr. Krammer is also member of the Vaccine and
Edward Jenner Society Young Investigator Program. In addition he is a scientific adviser for
enGenes and PathSensors.
Since 2019, Prof. Krammer is the Principal Investigator of the Sinai-Emory Multi-Institutional
Collaborative Influenza Vaccine Innovation Center (SEM-CIVIC). Our CIVIC aims to develop
improved seasonal and universal influenza virus vaccines that induce long lasting protection
against drifted seasonal, zoonotic and future pandemic influenza viruses.
The Krammer laboratory – which is also part of the NIH-funded Centers for Excellence in
Influenza Research and Surveillance (CEIRS) – focuses on understanding broadly-reactive
immune responses against the surface glycoproteins of RNA viruses such as influenza with the
goal to develop better vaccines and novel therapeutics.

Source:
https://labs.icahn.mssm.edu/krammerlab/dr-krammer/

The Bortz Virology Group supports


investigating possible Covid-19 infection
of pigs
Good point @florian_krammer ACE2 is half the battle (for
#COVID19 to infect swine). Agree worth investigating if it can
infect pigs. Similar happened before with HKU2-like SADS bat
betaCoV in pigs, in China (Zhou, 2018, and other reports)
https://t.co/C0vW6cJdPO
— Bortz_Virology_Group (@BortzGroup) February 22, 2020
Twitter Source:
https://twitter.com/BortzGroup/status/1231278408501317632
 Source:
https://www.uaa.alaska.edu/academics/college-of-arts-and-sciences/departments/biological-
sciences/faculty/bortz.cshtml