However, the story of Covid-19 doesn’t start in Wuhan, China. It actually began about ten years ago in a Netherlands research lab.
An innovative epidemiological study took place at Erasmus Medical Center in the Netherlands. Researchers were looking to discover different ways respiratory viruses reacted in humans. Scientists used ferrets in their study because ferrets have similar pulmonary structures to humans, with well-developed respiratory bronchioles and submucosal glands.
Specifically, researchers wanted to know if a non-airborne virus could be mutated in order to become a contagious airborne disease.
So, in order to find this out, researchers injected the ferrets with a flu virus and after a series of tests, they discovered that yes, non-airborne viruses could be manipulated to become much stronger and spread via respiratory droplets.
The findings were groundbreaking and this study paved the way for an entirely new type of scientific genomics research called “gain-of-function.”
The point of gain-of-function research was to replicate in a lab what had been done with the ferrets in the Netherlands — to take a virus and manipulate and mutate it to make it “stronger” in order to see if it will “gain new function.”