CHINA/UNITED STATES: Two new revealing students have exposed that the origins of the COVID-19 virus can be traced back to the Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan, China, clearly indicating that the virus emerged from the animals sold in the market and not from a Chinese lab.
CNN has reported that the new studies were posted online as preprints in February and have now undergone peer review. They were published on Tuesday in the journal Science.
While the two studies took two approaches, the outcome is the same: the virus originated in the Wuhan market.
The first study involved Chinese scientists and American biologist Michael Worobey and his peers from the University of Arizona. The team collected data using mapping tools and a social media app to determine the spatial and environmental analysis.
They claimed that the virus probably originated from the sale of live animals at the market in late 2019, but stated that the “exact circumstances remain obscure”.
“This is an indication that the virus started spreading in people who worked at the market but then started to spread into the local community,” Worobey said in a press conference, according to AP news agency.
The team also suspects that the market vendors and customers were among the first to be infected with the virus. They believe that two separate viruses were circulating in the animals that infected people.
“All eight COVID-19 cases detected before December 20 were from the western side of the market, where mammal species were also sold,” the study reveals.
The second study reveals that the earliest versions of the coronavirus probably had two lineages, and scientists have named them A and B. It is said that these two versions are a result of at least two cross-species transmission events into humans.
The study claims that version B was the reason for the first animal-to-human transmission, which happened around November 18, 2019. They found the B type in people who were in close connection with the market, vendors and customers.
Version A was found in humans from animals within weeks or even days of the infection from lineage B. This lineage was mostly found in people who lived or stayed close to the market.
“As with other coronaviruses, SARS-CoV-2 emergence likely resulted from multiple zoonotic events,” the study says.
The team hopes that they can finally discover which animal was the reason for the transmission of this deadly virus and what measures are to be adopted to curb any future strains of such a virus.