Health 20:26 15/02/2021 World

WHO scientists traced 13 COVID-19 strains to Wuhan from late 2019

Investigators from the World Health Organization (WHO) looking into the origins of coronavirus in China have discovered signs the outbreak was much wider in Wuhan in December 2019 than previously thought, and are urgently seeking access to hundreds of thousands of blood samples from the city that China has not so far let them examine, CNN reported. 

The lead investigator for the WHO mission, Peter Ben Embarek, told CNN that the mission had found several signs of the more wide-ranging 2019 spread, including establishing for the first time there were over a dozen strains of the virus in Wuhan already in December. 

The WHO food safety specialist added the team had been presented by Chinese scientists with 174 cases of coronavirus in and around Wuhan in December 2019. Of these 100 had been confirmed by laboratory tests, he said, and another 74 through the clinical diagnosis of the patient's symptoms.

Ben Embarek said it was possible this larger number -- of likely severe cases that had been noticed by Chinese doctors early on -- meant the disease could have hit an estimated 1,000-plus people in Wuhan that December.

Ben Embarek said the mission -- which comprised 17 WHO scientists and 17 Chinese -- had broadened the type of virus genetic material they examined from early coronavirus cases that first December. As a result, they were able to gather for the first time 13 different genetic sequences of the SARS-COV-2 virus from December 2019. The sequences, if examined with wider patient data in China across 2019, could provide valuable clues about the geography and timing of the outbreak before December.

 


Source Panorama.am
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