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Wuhan market re-emerges as probable source of COVID

An accountant from Wuhan, China, believed to have been the first person with COVID-19, actually developed symptoms eight days after what was initially reported, turning a seafood vendor from the now infamous Huanan market in the first known case.

The confusion was caused by complications from dental treatment that made the 41-year-old sick on December 8.

The fever and other symptoms caused by the coronavirus began on December 16, when several workers in the Huanan market already showed signs of contagion, including the seafood seller, whose symptoms began on December 11, according to a study released by the Thursday in Science magazine.

The accountant lived 30 kilometers from the market and had no connection to it. It was likely spread through community transmission after the virus began to spread in Wuhan, said Michael Worobey, chief of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Arizona, Tucson, and author of the study.

Worobey’s research suggests that the Huanan market was the source of the initial outbreak and not just where the SARS-CoV-2 virus was amplified in a super-spread event.

Scientists have yet to determine the origin of SARS-CoV-2. The debate over its genesis has centered on two theories: an escape from a laboratory or a transmission from animals.

Studies identifying closely related coronaviruses, such as in limestone cave-dwelling bats in northern Laos and Cambodia, support the latter hypothesis, especially as live animals susceptible to infection are known to have been sold in wet markets in Wuhan. , including the one in downtown Huanan.

No live mammals collected from the Huanan market or any other live animal market in Wuhan have been tested for viruses related to it. SARS-CoV-2, and the Huanan market was closed and disinfected on January 1, Worobey said.

However, the fact that most of the early symptomatic cases were linked to the Huanan market, specifically the western section where caged raccoon dogs were found, offers strong evidence of the origin of the pandemic in the live animal market.“, said.

While related viruses may never be recovered from animals, as they were not tested when COVID-19 emerged, conclusive evidence of a market origin for Huanan via infected wildlife could emerge from pattern analysis. space of the first cases, he said.

Additional genomic data, including samples positive for SARS-CoV-2 The Huanan market, as well as additional epidemiological data, could bolster the argument, Worobey said.

Preventing future pandemics depends on this effort“, he pointed.

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