Wuhan Seafood Market Probably Wasn’t Origin of Coronavirus Pandemic, Chinese Scientists Say

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The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 could not have originated from a moist market within the central Chinese metropolis of Wuhan, the unique epicenter of the pandemic, based on a research.

COVID-19 first got here to public consideration in late December 2019 when folks linked to the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan, Hubei province, began falling ailing with pneumonia after catching a then-unknown virus. Since then, the coronavirus has unfold virtually worldwide, killing 360,860 folks in over 5.eight million circumstances, based on Johns Hopkins University. More than 2.four million persons are recognized to have recovered from COVID-19, for which there’s at the moment no particular remedy.

The Chinese scientists who printed their findings in Nature are the newest to recommend the virus could have emerged elsewhere. They recommend it may have jumped from an animal to a human in late November 2019, and the busy seafood market could have helped it unfold. Citing previous analysis, the authors stated a “significant” variety of the primary reported circumstances did not have contact with the market.

Wuhan Seafood Market Probably Wasn't Origin of Coronavirus Pandemic, Chinese Scientists Say
A police officer stands guard exterior of Huanan Seafood Wholesale market on January 24, 2020. HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP through Getty Images

To attain this conclusion, Fudan University virologist Xiaonan Zhang and colleagues checked out information on how COVID-19 affected 326 sufferers in Shanghai on China’s east coast between January 20 and February 25, 2020. From the spit and inside nostril swabs taken from these sufferers, they pinpointed 94 genome sequences of SARS-CoV-2 (the coronavirus that causes COVID-19) that had been of a excessive sufficient high quality to investigate, and in contrast them with others from a worldwide database. This enabled them to assemble what is actually an evolutionary household tree of the virus. In what is named phylogenetic evaluation, scientists can use such data to do a variety of issues, together with mapping the place outbreaks began.

The workforce wrote: “Two major lineages of the virus derived from one common ancestor may have originated independently from Wuhan in December 2019 and contributed to the current pandemic.” One of those spawned on the market, “where high density of stalls, vendors and customers might have facilitated human-to-human transmission,” they wrote. Six circumstances within the first lineage had contact historical past with the market, however three circumstances within the second lineage identified on the similar interval did not. This is in step with a research on the earliest circumstances in Wuhan earlier than December 18, the place 5 out of seven sufferers weren’t linked to the market, the researchers stated.

Experts who didn’t work on the research who spoke to Newsweek had differing views on whether or not the virus got here from the market.

Jeremy Rossman, honorary senior lecturer in virology on the U.Ok.’s University of Kent, instructed Newsweek proof means that the virus jumped from the human inhabitants in November 2019 and “the market was simply the first site of extensive human-to-human transmission.”

In a paper printed by Chinese researchers in The Lancet journal in January 2020 on the primary 41 sufferers hospitalized with COVID-19, the earliest case fell ailing on December 1, 2019. The individual had no recognized hyperlink to the market, as was additionally the case for 13 others featured within the research.

Rossman stated: “Other groups have identified two early lineages of the virus, but this is the first suggestion that this split occurred before the infection at the market.

“Together, this paper and the present information provide a convincing view that SARS-CoV-2 didn’t first emerge on the Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan in December 2019, however earlier in November, in some as but unidentified location within the common space of Wuhan.”

Addressing past allegations by President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that the virus escaped from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, Ian Jones, professor of virology at the University of Reading, U.K., who did not work on the study, told Newsweek: “That principle has been nicely and really trashed by scientific evaluation of the virus and will now be buried.”

Jones said the Nature study was limited due to the small number of samples the team analyzed. He said: “It stays attainable the primary occasions did happen out there however someday earlier than the principle cluster of circumstances had been recognized, by which period one (presumably) particular person had left the market and begun transmission exterior.”

Andrew Preston, who researches microbial pathogenesis at the University of Bath, U.K., told Newsweek that current evidence suggests the virus originated from the market.

Preston said it is “very troublesome to achieve a conclusion” that there were two types of SARS-CoV-2 introduced into people in Wuhan.

“When analyzing a subset of viruses, sampling can have a big impact. The virus mutates naturally, so mutations will come up the entire time. If one variant occurred to seek out its means into somebody who then handed it on to lots of people, (possibly as a result of they had been asymptomatic and did not isolate, possibly as a result of they occurred to contact lots of people earlier than changing into ailing, and many others.) then that virus will seem in much more folks than a virus that was carried by somebody who did not go it on loads. So that virus will seem like extra frequent,” he said.

Preston said it’s possible the analysis picked up a variant that arose in a person who was exposed to the market, but then passed it on to people who weren’t. “If you then pattern solely from these individuals who weren’t, it’s going to seem that their virus arose exterior of the market.”

However, Peter Forster, fellow of the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research at the U.K.’s University of Cambridge, told Newsweek he was not surprised the fish market does not fully qualify as the source of the COVID-19 outbreak, citing The Lancet study. “Unfortunately there is no such thing as a genomic data for this affected person, so far as I do know, which limits additional investigation on the true origins of the outbreak,” he said.

In research yet to be peer-reviewed, Forster and colleagues analyzed 1,001 SARS-CoV-2 genomes and found it may have infected people as early as mid-September.

Jones said that is unclear whether the exact location or animal where the virus came from will ever be found.

As the graph by Statista below shows, the U.S. is the country with the most known COVID-19 cases. This week, the death toll in that country passed 100,000.

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Wuhan Seafood Market Probably Wasn't Origin of Coronavirus Pandemic, Chinese Scientists Say
Countries with the most COVID-19 cases. STATISTA
Wuhan Seafood Market Probably Wasn't Origin of Coronavirus Pandemic, Chinese Scientists Say
Countries with the most COVID-19 cases. STATISTA
Wuhan Seafood Market Probably Wasn't Origin of Coronavirus Pandemic, Chinese Scientists Say
The spread of the COVID-19 outbreak across the U.S. Statista
Wuhan Seafood Market Probably Wasn't Origin of Coronavirus Pandemic, Chinese Scientists Say
U.S. states with the best variety of confirmed COVID-19 circumstances. STATISTA