Two years after the origin of the new coronavirus pandemic, some of the key questions remain unanswered: Where did the virus that has changed the planet originate? Does it have an animal origin? Was it a laboratory accident? or Who was the first human affected with which the chain of infections began? Despite all the research carried out, the debate on all these questions remains unanswered. And now a new article published in the prestigious journal ‘Science’ rekindles the discussion.
Michael Worobey, a scientist at the University of Arizona has reconstructed the crucial events that took place in China between December 2019 and January 2020, drawing a timeline that places the first cases of Covid-19 at the Wuhan Live Animal Market.
According to their data, the chronology of the World Health Organization (WHO) investigation would be wrong. The new analysis suggests that the first known patient to become ill with the coronavirus could be a vendor from the great Wuhan animal market, not an accountant who lived many miles from there, as had also been said.
Worobey, a leading expert in tracking virus evolution, found discrepancies in the WHO research by reviewing data published in scientific journals, and studying media interviews with some of the earliest documented infections in Wuhan.
For this researcher there is no doubt that the pandemic began there. In a city of eleven million people, half of the first cases are related to a place the size of a football field. “With this pattern, it is very difficult to explain that the outbreak did not start in the live animal market.”
According to the University of Arizona researcher, the first cases of the virus were associated with the Hunan market, suggesting that zoonotic spread in the live animal market was the likely source of Covid-19. Unfortunately, no live mammals collected from the Wuhan Live Animal Market have been tested for viruses related to the novel coronavirus. The Hunan market in Wuhan was closed and disinfected shortly after that symptomatic cases began to increase. Despite this, Worobey notes that most of the early symptomatic cases were related to this market and specifically the western section where animals, such as civets, that are susceptible to transmitting coronaviruses, were caged.
The virus probably infected someone else before infecting the animal supplier and then spreading to the market. Studies of changes to the virus genome, including one by Worobey himself, suggest that the first infection occurred in approximately mid-November 2019, weeks before this provider fell ill.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism