COVID-19: Misplacement of blame toward bats stems from unawareness from individuals on the environment


Photo: The Sun (UK)

Rebekah Hedeen, Assistant Features Editor

COVID-19, since its origin, has long been known as the disease that came from bats. More specifically, the disease that came from the consumption of bats.

While the horseshoe bats originating from the caves of Yunnan, China do carry the enzyme of SARS-CoV-2, they were forced out of their habitat to become food. Contrary to popular belief, they did not emerge from their caves to attack the individuals of the surrounding areas.

According to an article from BBC News, bats have lived in the caves of Yunnan, China for centuries yet individuals still disrupt them within their habitat for personal gain. 

“The local population frequently visits these bats’ habitat, in order to collect guano to use as fertilizer for their crops,” Dr Elizabeth Gori of the University of Zimbabwe said. “It is therefore essential to know the pathogens carried by the bats, because they could be transmitted to humans.”

Scientists began collecting samples from the caves since the pandemic started in order to develop a cure for the disease since the surrounding areas continue to put themselves at risk by entering the caves for fertilizer.

“After reading this article my opinion about the coronavirus has not changed, it is still a pandemic that is changing our day to day lives and can spread very quickly,” Senior Hayleigh Snyder said. “However, the notion of eating bats as the cause is much more believed than I had previously thought. I did not realize that so many people truly thought this was the cause of the virus.”

The virus’ origin is often believed to be solely from bats and the carelessness of humans in terms of interaction with others while being positive for the virus. While the bats do carry the virus, BBC explains that they are severely misunderstood.

“There have been isolated reports of COVID-related backlash against bats, including actual or intended killings in Peru, India, Australia, China and Indonesia,” BBC Environmental Correspondent Helen Briggs said.

While many think that the extinction of the horseshoe bats may be the solution, there are many consequences that come with it. For example, bats are pollinators and they eat small bugs that save farmers millions of dollars by keeping their crops safe. If the bat population is harmed, the insects will increase and the pollination of important crops and foliage will be lost.

During the first few months that the pandemic was originating in the United States, news coverage pointed toward bats being one of the reasons for the spread of COVID-19. 

“I think it definitely is important to recognize where COVID-19 originated from,” Senior Zoe Wood said. “It’s an important read for so many, to open their eyes to the fact that we are misplacing the blame on different things.”