First case of coronavirus likely appeared in China weeks before it was documented, British study finds



The first case of the coronavirus likely appeared in China between early October and mid-November 2019, weeks before the first official case was reported in Wuhan in December, according to a new study from a British university.

Researchers at the University of Kent estimated that the virus first appeared in the country around November 17, 2019 and spread around the world in January, Reuters reported.

The researchers used a mathematical model from conservation science commonly used to estimate when a species might become extinct, according to

The first official case of COVID-19 was linked to a wildlife market in Wuhan, although some believe the pandemic could have started via a leak at a city virology lab.


Some of the first cases in the city had no known connection to the market, suggesting it could have come from elsewhere, Reuters reported.

The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle this week published an article in which they recovered sequencing data from the first cases in Wuhan which it said showed the cases linked to the animal market were a variant of the original virus. which had already spread to other parts of the country, according to Reuters.

A couple wearing face masks to help curb the spread of the coronavirus walk past a notice board with the words "Always follow the party" presents an exhibition promoting China's achievements under the Communist Party from 1921 to 2021, in Beijing on Sunday, June 20, 2021. (AP Photo / Andy Wong)

A couple wearing face masks to help curb the spread of the coronavirus walk past a billboard with the words “Always follow the party” on an exhibition promoting China’s achievements under the Communist Party from 1921 to 2021, in Beijing, Sunday, June 20, 2021 (AP Photo / Andy Wong)

The center had to recover the sequencing data because it had been deleted at the request of the Chinese government. Beijing reportedly said the footage would be updated and added to an archive.

Chinese researchers ordered the United States National Institutes of Health to remove gene sequences from the first COVID-19[female[feminine case of a key scientific database, raising fears that scientists studying the origin of the pandemic may not have access to key information.


China has been widely suspected of trying to cover up the spread of the virus when it first emerged and allegedly downplaying its toll as it quickly spread outside the country last year. Beijing has also been accused of not allowing full and transparent international inventions of the origins of the virus to take place.

“Why would scientists ask international databases to delete key data that tells us how Covid-19 started in Wuhan? Alina Chan, postdoctoral researcher at MIT and Harvard, tweeted Tuesday: “This is the question you can answer on your own.”


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