World Health Organization (WHO) researchers studying the origins of the coronavirus in China have found that the signs of the December 2019 outbreak in Wuhan were much bigger than previously thought, CNN reported.
Investigators are urgently seeking access to hundreds and thousands of blood samples from the city that China has not yet had examined.
Senior investigator for the WHO mission, Peter Ben Embarek, told CNN in a comprehensive interview that the mission found several signs of the wider spread of 2019, including a first-time finding that there were over a dozen strains of the virus in Wuhan in December.
The team, which arrived in China in January and spent four weeks investigating the origins of the COVID-19 outbreak, also met the first patient Chinese officials said had been infected, an office worker in his forties with no significant travel history would have. reported infected on December 8th.
CNN said in a report that the slow emergence of detailed data gathered on the WHO’s recent trip could add to the concerns of other scientists studying the causes of the disease, which may well be long before its first official emergence in China spread in mid-December.
Embarek, who has just returned to Switzerland from Wuhan, told CNN, “The virus was widespread in Wuhan in December, which is a new finding.”
The WHO team said Tuesday that there is no evidence of coronavirus circulation in animal species in China.
During a press conference, Peter Ben Embarek, the head of the WHO mission in Wuhan, had suggested four hypotheses about the spread of the virus, but repeated that “the hypothesis of a laboratory incident makes the introduction of the virus into the human population extremely unlikely”. “It has not been possible to identify any animal species as a potential reservoir for this disease, and they suggest that now and in 2019, it does not look like the virus has been spread in any animal species in the country.” he said.
During the interview with CNN, the WHO food safety specialist said the team was presented by Chinese scientists with 174 cases of coronavirus in and around Wuhan in December 2019. Of these, 100 were confirmed by laboratory tests, and another 74 by clinical diagnosis of the patient’s symptoms.
Embarek said it was possible that this larger number – likely serious cases noted early by Chinese doctors – meant the disease could have hit an estimated more than 1,000 people in Wuhan in December.
“We haven’t modeled this since then,” he said. “But we know … in large numbers … of the infected population, about 15% end up in severe cases, and the vast majority are mild cases.”
Meanwhile, the US on Saturday raised concerns about the possibility of the Chinese government interfering in the World Health Organization (WHO) recent investigation into the origins of COVID-19 in Wuhan.
“We have deep concerns about the way the initial results of the COVID-19 investigation were communicated and questions about the process by which they were reached,” said Jake Sullivan, US security advisor.
He stressed the importance of an investigation “free of interference or change by the Chinese government” into the development of COVID-19.
(This story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and is automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)