The laboratory in Wuhan has nothing to do with it – Science – Kommersant

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Michael Warobay, an expert on the evolution of viruses at the University of Arizona, considers the World Health Organization’s data on the beginning of the spread of covid to be incorrect. According to her calculations, the accountant was the first reliably registered case. According to Warobey, she was a saleswoman from Huanan City Fish Market.

Half of the first wave of covid disease in Wuhan, a city of 11 million, is clearly linked to the Huanan Fish Market, which is about the size of a football field, Warobey explains. This is confirmed by the analysis of connections between patients. It is strange to insist on something different when there is such a clear pattern, he says: the accountant, about whom the WHO speaks, lived very far from the market.

Many experts are willing to agree with Warobay, while others suggest that he provide explicit evidence for his hypothesis.

Jesse Bloom, a virologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, says Warobay’s analysis itself looks correct. “But I can’t say the same about the data on the basis of which his analysis was made,” Bloom continues. “They look neither convincing nor complete enough to say something definite about the beginning of the spread of coronavirus. Although there is no doubt: the Huanan fish market was a place of over-proliferation of the infection! “

The first recorded case, however, is not the same as the first case. A retrospective analysis by both Warobay himself and other researchers shows that the first person to become infected with covid appeared in Wuhan around mid-November 2019, two years ago and several weeks before the same trader became ill. Probably, many experts believe, the virus jumped to a person – patient zero – shortly before he fell ill, and it was from patient zero that the mass infection of people on Juanan began.

Other colleagues, following Bloom, find Warobey’s work excellent in terms of retrospective analysis. But it was made using already well-known data, and therefore, explains Ian Lipkin, a virologist at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, this is the same hypothesis as all other correct hypotheses. “I don’t think that we will ever know exactly what was there at the beginning of the epidemic,” says Lipkin, “two years have passed since then, but the picture is completely unclear.”

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Based on the article Dissecting the early COVID-19 cases in Wuhan; Michael Worobey; Science magazine, November 2021

Leonty Krivov

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