A new study on Friday finds the COVID-19 causing virus could have started spreading in China as early as October 2019 that is just two months before the first case was identified in the central city of Wuhan.
According to a paper published in the PLOS Pathogens journal states that, to estimate that SARS-CoV-2 first appeared from early October to mid-November 2019 the researchers from Britain’s University of Kent used methods from conservation science.
They estimated that the most likely date for the virus’s emergence was Nov. 17, 2019 and it had possibly spread globally by January 2020. China’s first official COVID-19 case was linked to Wuhan’s Huanan seafood market and was found in December 2019. However, some early cases had no known connection with Human, suggesting that SARS-CoV-2 was already circulating before it reached the market.
The World Health Organization and a joint study published by China found that at the end of March there could have been irregular human infections before the Wuhan outbreak.
However, according to the critics the deletion of the data was a further proof that China was trying to cover up the origins of coronavirus.
Jesse Bloom of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle recovered deleted sequencing data from the early cases of COVID-19 in China, in a paper released this week as a preprint.
According to the data of samples taken from the Huanan market were “not representative” of SARS-CoV-2 as a whole and were variants of prior sequence that was circulating earlier and spread to other parts of China.
Alina Chan, a researcher with Harvard’s Broad Institute, writing on Twitter, “Why would scientists ask international databases to delete key data that informs us about how COVID-19 began in Wuhan?”. “That’s the question you can answer for yourselves.”
An Australian medical research organisation who was responding to the University of Kent study, serum samples still needed to be tested to make a stronger case about COVID-19’s origins, said Stuart Turville, associate professor at the Kirby Institute.
“Unfortunately with the current pressure of the lab leak hypothesis and the sensitivities in doing this follow-up research in China, it may be some time till we see reports like that,” he said.