When did the virus cross over into humans? Doubt has been cast on the idea that it happened in the Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan, China, in December, and now researchers are trying to identify the real source of the infection. The hope is that this knowledge could help prevent future pandemics of other new coronaviruses.
According to a study of the first 41 people hospitalised with covid-19 published in January (The Lancet, doi.org/ggjfnn), the first case of covid-19 was a man who showed symptoms on 1 December 2019. Unlike the majority of early cases, he had no links to the Huanan Seafood Market.
Since then, no one has been able to confirm where he caught the virus, or if he was even the first person to contract it. Another January analysis, of the first 425 covid-19 cases, conducted by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention and China’s National Health Commission, placed the first confirmed case a week later, on 8 December.
But subsequent evidence hints that the outbreak probably began before December. Viral genome analyses suggest that the virus jumped from animals to humans in November (The Lancet, doi.org/ggp6gz), but it could have happened as early as late September (Journal of Medical Virology, doi.org/ggjvv8).
This is consistent with the South China Morning Post report on Chinese government documents that suggested the earliest case of covid-19 may have been a 55-year-old person from Hubei province who seems to have contracted the virus on 17 November.
What did Biden know, and what did the Washington Post know late October, literally days before Covid-19 spread in Wuhan? Did these people play politics with people’s lives?
The truth is out there.