According to a peer-reviewed paper published by researchers from the Czech Academy of Sciences and the U.K.’s University of Kent, the coronavirus, SARS-CoV2, first appeared between early October to mid-November 2019.
This time frame is two months before the first case was identified in Wuhan, China. This period is when researchers believe the virus was spreading undetected and unchecked.
Scientists using the optimal linear estimator method, which analyzed when the first cases in five countries were reported and compared origin dates for those cases.
The study said that November 17, 2019, is the most likely date for the emergence of the virus in China. China didn’t begin locking down Wuhan in January 2020.
Covid-19 was detected in December 2019. The virus was initially linked to Wuhan’s Huanan seafood market, although many early cases had no known link to the market.
This led researchers to believe that the virus was already in circulation at that point.
Britain’s University of Kent utilized conservation science methods to estimate that the coronavirus first appeared in China sometime between early October to mid-November 2019. The research paper was published in the PLOS Pathogens journal.
WHO and China confirm
A joint study produced by the World Health Organization (WHO) and China at the end of March acknowledged that there might have been scattered human infections before the outbreak in Wuhan.
According to the U.S. National Institutes of Health, samples submitted to the Sequence Read Archive (SRA) in March 2020 were then deleted later at the request of Chinese investigators.
According to the National Institutes of Health, the investigators told the institute that the removed information would be updated and submitted to another database.
Jesse Bloom of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle recently recovered the deleted sequencing data from early coronavirus cases in China.
Critics of the information released and explanations of the origin of the virus have said that the deletion of the removed data is evidence that China was trying to cover up the roots of COVID-19.
“Why would scientists ask international databases to delete key data that informs us about how COVID-19 began in Wuhan?” tweeted Alina Chan, a researcher with Harvard’s Broad Institute.
According to the data, samples taken from the Huanan market were “not representative” of SARS-CoV-2.
Instead, they were a different variant of an originator sequence that was sequencing earlier and spread to other regions in China.
However, experts continue to disagree on the true origins of the virus.
“While it is clear early viruses had a high propensity for human receptors, that doesn’t mean they were ‘man-made,'” explained Dominic Dwyer, infectious disease expert from Australia’s Westmead Hospital.
He was part of the WHO team investigating coronavirus and its origins in Wuhan over the past year.
According to Stuart Turville, associate professor at the Kirby Institute, a medical research organization in Australia, serum samples still need to be tested to provide more substantial evidence about the true origins of COVID-19.
“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.