Researchers from the Institute for Genomics and Evolutionary Medicine at Temple University in Philadelphia claimed that the Coronavirus outbreak began in China months before Beijing officially revealed the details. This revelation came after the scientists analyzed samples from thousands of COVID-19 patients.
The study findings also suggested that the virus "definitely" began in China. One of the researchers involved in the study told the Daily Mail all the genetic evidence made it clear that the SARS-CoV-2 first emerged in China. "The pattern of worldwide spread is also consistent with Chinese viruses seeding epidemics in other countries," he added.
The outcome of the study also challenged Beijing's attempts to divert attention to other nations as a source of the Coronavirus pandemic. However, the findings came at a time when a team of experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) started their investigation in China to untangle the origin mystery of COVID-19.
The team of experts visited two disease control centers in China on Monday, February 1. The centers were responsible for managing the early outbreak in Wuhan, the initial epicenter of the pandemic. The WHO team arrived in Wuhan in January. They have already visited the Hunan seafood market and hospitals in Wuhan where early COVID-19 cases were detected.
They went to the Hubei Provincial Center for Disease Control and its Wuhan city office to find clues about the pandemic, amid strict Chinese controls on accessing virus-related information. As reported by AP, a WHO team member Peter Daszak, said that it had been a "really good meeting, really important"—that's all. No other information was revealed.
The WHO-led investigation in China has been plagued by delays and concerns over the access of the experts. But now, as the team has already started their investigation, whatever details they will accumulate, will help the scientists to provide a conclusion about the virus's origin.
But the process of finding the animal source is quite complicated as it requires massive amounts of research involving the collection of animal samples, genetic analysis and epidemiological studies.
However, despite the fact that China took major steps initially to curb the domestic transmission of the virus, in January the country reported more than 2,000 new domestic cases of COVID-19. This is the highest monthly total cases since the final phase of the initial outbreak in Wuhan last year in March. According to reports, two people also died in China due to Coronavirus infection in January. These are the first reported COVID-19 deaths in the country in several months. Due to the emergence of new cases, schools in China have gone online and travel has been restricted during the Lunar New Year holiday.