Daily Management Review

WHO Team Exploring Covid-19 Origin In China Says Signs Of Larger 2019 Original Outbreak


WHO Team Exploring Covid-19 Origin In China Says Signs Of Larger 2019 Original Outbreak
The signs of the covid-19 pandemic were much wider in Wuhan in China in December of 2019 than was thought previously, found the investigating team from the World Health Organization (WHO) that is in China to explore the origins of coronavirus in the country. The team is also urgently trying to get hands on hundreds of thousands of blood samples from the city – an effort that has so far been denied by Chinese authorities.
There were a number of signs indicating the in December 2019, the spread of the disease in Wuhan was more wide ranging than believed previously which included establishment of the fact that in December of 2019, there were more3 than a dozen strains of the virus in Wuhan already, said the lead investigator for the WHO mission, Peter Ben Embarek, in an interview to CNN.  The team also interviewed the first patient to get infected with the virus, as claimed by Chinese officials, it who was an office worker in his 40s who did not have any travel history as of December 8, 2019, when he was infected with Covid-19. 
There have been concerns voiced by scientists who have been examining the origins of the virus claiming that the spreading of the disease could have started in China well before the December 2019 time frame that China claims the pandemic had first emerged and these concerns were reinforced by the slow emergence of more detailed data gathered by the WHO team who were allowed to conduct the investigations in China after a long period of denial by Beijing.
"The virus was circulating widely in Wuhan in December, which is a new finding," said Embarek, who has just returned to Switzerland from Wuhan.
Details of 174 cases of coronavirus in and around Wuhan in December 2019 were presented to the team by Chinese scientists, said the WHO food safety specialist. He said that out of that number of infections, 100 were confirmed through lab tests while the rest were confirmed through clinical diagnosis of the symptoms of the patients.
It was likely possible that this large number of cases in Wuhan which were of a more severe nature such that it had been noticed by Chinese doctors, indicated that about 1,000 people in the city had been already infected by the disease in December of 2019.
"We haven't done any modeling of that since," he said. "But we know ...in big ballpark figures... out of the infected population, about 15% end up severe cases, and the vast majority are mild cases."
The type of virus genetic material that had been examined by the team, comprising of 17 WHO scientists and 17 Chinese ones, from the early coronavirus cases that were first detected in December was broadened,in the mission, Embarek said and added that this helped the team to even look at early coronavirus cases that first December instead of only the complete ones. This made it possible for the team to collect 13 different genetic sequences of the SARS-COV-2 virus from December 2019 which was a first for the pandemic. Valuable clues about the geography and timing of the outbreak before December of 2019 could be provided by the examination of the sequences with wider patient data in China across 2019.
"Some of them are from the markets... Some of them are not linked to the markets," which includes the Huanan seafood market in Wuhan, thought to have played a role in the virus' first spread. "This is something we found as part of our mission... part of the interaction we had all together," Embarek said.