Dec 17 · Last update 1 mo. ago.

What was the origin of the COVID-19 coronavirus?

The COVID-19 pandemic is commonly thought to have passed from an animal source to humans in China in late 2019, but despite much of the world now recovering or suffering second and third spikes of the virus, the virus' source is still the source of a lot of controversy. The origin of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that caused the COVID-19 pandemic has fed into major political tensions between the world’s two foremost superpowers, the United States and China, as US president Donald Trump repeatedly stressed the virus came from China, calling it the “China virus” or “kung-flu”. However numerous studies are now casting doubt on whether a Wuhan wet market in China was in fact the source of the virus, with SARS-CoV-2 antibodies being found retrospectively in blood and sewage samples taken internationally far earlier than was previously thought. What was the origin of the SARS-nCoV-2 virus that started the COVID-19 global pandemic? What is the best evidence we have that indicates where the virus crossed over into a human population? Or are we unlikely to ever find patient zero, the first human case of COVID-19?
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Italy was one of the earliest and hardest hit countries in the world by the COVID-19 pandemic, and while this was attributed to the country's ageing population studies have indicated that the virus was spreading through population long before the world was aware of COVID. Sewage samples from Milan and Turin, dated from December 18th 2019, first gave some indication of this, when scientist found they contained genetic material from the SARS-Cov-2 virus. Likewise blood samples from Lombardy dated to September 2019 found SARS-Cov-2 antibodies were already widespread, and even earlier in the same month in the Veneto region (samples dated from 3rd September 2019). The picture may be much more complex than previously thought, but currently it looks like the earliest evidence found is from Italy.

reuters.com/article/health-coronavirus-italy-timing-idUSKBN27W1J2 newsweek.com/covid-spread-europe-months-before-china-reported-it-study-claims-1547658 canoe.com/news/world/sewage-study-suggests-covid-19-was-in-italy-before-china-reported-cases msn.com/en-us/health/medical/covid-spread-to-europe-months-before-china-reported-it-study-claims/ar-BB1b3yIy

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