As the world continues to grapple against the coronavirus or COVID-19 with the number of cases nearing the 9.7 million mark, Spanish virologists have made a significant discovery regarding the origin of the deadly virus that can be a major breakthrough.

The virologists from the University of Barcelona have found traces of the novel coronavirus in a sample of Barcelona wastewater dating back in March 2019, which is nine months before the COVID-19 disease got identified in China. If the discovery is confirmed to be correct then it will turn out to be huge for scientists around the world as it will imply that the virus may have appeared much earlier than what the scientific community thought.

Coronavirus Outbreak Started in Spain?

Wuhan Coronavirus
Twitter / Imran Iftikhar

The team from the University of Barcelona who had been testing wastewater since mid-April for identifying potential new outbreaks also decided to run tests on older samples. They first found traces of the virus in a sample from January 15, 2020, after which they ran the tests of the samples taken between January 2018 and December 2019. This led to the discovery of the traces of virus from the sample collected on March 12, 2019.

"The levels of SARS-CoV-2 were low but were positive," Albert Bosch, the research leader was quoted by the university. The study has been submitted for a peer review. Dr Joan Ramon Villalbi who is from the Spanish Society for Public Health and Sanitary Administration was quoted by the Reuters saying that it was early to draw conclusions.

"When it's just one result, you always want more data, more studies, more samples to confirm it and rule out a laboratory error or a methodological problem," he mentioned. There are chances that of a false positive due to the similarities of the virus with other respiratory infections.

COVID-19 Crisis

The deadly virus outbreak has created a major stir around the world in recent times infecting nearly 9.7 million people globally and claiming the lives of over 491,000 people worldwide in more than 170 countries.

The virus has affected the US the most followed by Brazil and Russia and is currently spreading like wildfire. Scientists around the world are working to find a cure for the deadly disease that has forced most of the nations to impose strict lockdowns.