Researchers from the World Health Organization (WHO) have revealed evidence that the eruption in Wahan province in China in December 2019 was much wider than previously thought, CNN reported today (Sunday). The same researchers are urgently seeking access to hundreds of thousands of blood samples from residents in the city, samples that China has not yet allowed them to test.
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The chief investigator of the task force of the international organization, Peter Ben Amberk, said that it was found for the first time that already in December 2019 the verified bovine virus had infected more than 12 different strains of the corona. The organization’s delegation also spoke to one of those first reported as infected – and found that the 40-year-old did not travel or fly out of China before being infected.
According to Amberk, in December there were 174 verified cases of corona in Wuhan. 100 of them from a laboratory test, and 74 cases of people being diagnosed with the virus following corona symptoms. The large ratio between the number of verified and the number of patients in this figure makes it possible to estimate, according to Ambrak, that at this stage in Vuhan there were in fact already more than 1,000 verified vertebrae in Vuhan.
The relatively wide number of strains that were already in Wuhan in December is another sign that supports the possibility that the virus has already spread widely at this stage. “Because there was already genetic diversity from the specimens in Wuhan in December 2019, it is likely that the virus has been circulating for some time. More than this month alone,” said Professor Edward Holmes, a virologist at the University of Sydney in Australia.
These findings add to the concerns of other epidemic researchers who raised the possibility that the epidemic broke out in China long before the first virus was reported in mid-December 2019. Ambrak, who had just returned to Switzerland from Wuhan, said: “The virus spread widely in Wuhan as early as December.
The World Health Organization hopes to return to Wuhan in the coming months and expand the study on blood samples from residents. According to Ambrak, the team hopes to urgently examine biological samples that experts believe were unavailable for them during the first research campaign, especially thousands of samples from Wuhan’s blood donation bank. “There are about 200,000 samples that are secured and may be used for a new set of studies.” Said Ambark. However, Ambrak added that these samples can only be used for litigation purposes and not for studies of this kind, and are therefore difficult to obtain.
Last week it was reported on the N12 that the same delegation from the World Health Organization estimated that the possibility that the virus was created in the laboratory was “unreasonable”. However, the head of the team in the organization said that transmitting the virus in frozen food shipments is a real possibility that justifies further investigation.